Why You Should Stop Saying "Sure" When You Actually Mean "No"
When’s the last time you responded to a question with the word “sure?” I’m sure you can think of a few instances in the past day—maybe even the past hour—when you let that little word fall out of your mouth.
You’re not alone. We all likely use it far more often than we should. It’s our half-hearted, noncommittal way of saying yes. It’s agreeable and somewhat positive, while simultaneously demonstrating that you’re not completely thrilled with the opportunity in front of you. The subtext is almost always,“No, I’m not particularly interested. But if you’d like me to, I can do it.”
Recently, I read this article by Andela’s VP of Learning Adam Lupu, about how he’s decided to completely cut the word out of his vocabulary.
“I even see many people saying ‘sure’ to some of the biggest decisions in life,” he says in the article, “New job? ‘Sure.’ Get married? ‘Sure.’ Have kids? ‘Sure.’ Is this what any of us are here to do? Simply say ‘sure’?”
Lupu has a worthy point—and one that inspired me to do some thinking: Why are we all so quick to lean on this indifferent word? What would happen if we would all drop “sure” in favor of more cut and dried answers? Think about it: The answers could be an enthusiastic “100% yes!” or a simple “No.” Or, in professional instances, in which we’re asked to take on a task and can’t just say “No” and walk away, the truth: “I can tackle that project, but I’m not particularly excited about it and think someone else may execute it better.” (Obviously, there are situations in which you have to say yes, regardless of your excitement levels and I trust you to know the difference.)
Wouldn’t we all be happier—not to mention more decisive if we said what we really meant, if we could all be on the same page and not guessing what the other person really thinks?
Now, let’s switch gears a little bit. Think about the last time you said, “Absolutely, definitely, 100% yes!” to something. Chances are, a smile just instantly spread across your face. Why? Well, you’re likely reflecting on an opportunity that you were so certain about, so passionate about, and so excited about that you knew a simple “sure” just wouldn’t do it justice.
That was a great feeling, wasn’t it? So, then why are we all so willing to settle for much less than that on a daily basis? It’s for this very reason that I’m following in Lupu’s footsteps and attempting to completely eliminate the word from my vocabulary. If I wouldn’t respond to a request or opportunity with a resounding, “100% yes!” then I’m going to make a concerted effort to turn it down—rather than replying with an apprehensive and lukewarm, “Well, I guess, sure.”
I know it’ll be challenging—particularly since I’m self-aware enough to know that I fall back on that noncommittal four-letter word far more than I should. But, while I’m a little intimidated by the challenge, I’m also excited to see how it impacts my decisions. I can only imagine that it’ll make me much more intentional about how I spend my time and energy.
As for you? Well, I don’t want to be in this alone. So, I recommend that you hop on board, take a page from Lupu’s book, and find your “100% yes” with me—and then refuse to settle for anything less.
Are you cutting out the word “sure”? Let me know on Twitter how it all plays out for you!
Photo of woman and man talking courtesy of Portra Images/Getty Images.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, self-development, and the freelance life. In addition to writing for The Muse, she's also the Career Editor for The Everygirl, a columnist for Inc., and a contributor all over the web. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her rescued terrier mutt or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author