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When Did We Lose The Ability To Say No?

My daughter and I were shopping for clothing the other day.

As a mom of 2 teenage girls, you can imagine how much shopping happens in our household. As we got to the counter to pay for the clothes, as I’ve done hundreds (if not thousands) of times before, the cashier said, “email address.” It wasn’t even really a question. It was a statement implying that I needed to give her my email address. I’ve heard it said in different ways as well. Comments like “Can I please have your email address” but always implying that it is necessary. We must give them our email address in order to proceed.

And how do we always respond? We give them our email.

Somehow it never clicks in our brain that we can say no. “No thank you, I don’t want to give you my email address” or “No thank you, I just want to buy these jeans (with 1000 holes that are more expensive than jeans with no holes… but that’s a whole other story ????).” Instead, we readily comply, give them our personal information and then complain later about how we get so much junk email.

I started wondering, did she phrase it that way intentionally so that I forgot I had a right to say no? Or was it just an innocent thing to say that she was taught management?

Do we even believe we can say no? Do we think if we don’t give away our private information, we won’t get what we want? Or more alarmingly, do we just not care anymore?

Why is that? Where did we forget how to say no? And how far does that carry into our lives in other ways? Why is it so much harder to say no if we are face to face with someone, instead of hiding behind a screen?

For example, think about if someone is asking you to donate to charity when you don’t want to. If you are at home and a pop-up comes up saying “do you want to donate a dollar to charity?” most of us will click no without even batting an eye. Alternatively, if you are in a store and it comes up on the screen “do you want to donate a dollar,” you may feel a little put on the spot, but you will probably still click no. But, if you are face to face with a cashier and she asks you “would you like to donate to charity?”  all of a sudden it’s an instant yes, even if you don’t want to.

We forget that face to face we have the same choices that we have when we are hiding behind a screen.

When you lose the power of “no” it becomes a dangerous slope. We are in a day and age where our information is valuable, but we don’t regard it as such.  We freely give it away to people who are not careful with it.

The more time goes by and technology advances, the more careful we are going to need to be. So, the next time someone asks you for information about yourself – remember, you can always say “no thank you.”

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences of the good you have found with technology. Please email me at with your thoughts.

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