We all have a professional life that has milestones, those key moments in which you glimpse an opportunity that can propel you forward and that growth comes as abundant and fertile rain. In the same way, there are times when that rain can turn into a storm and what seems like a magnificent opportunity becomes an unnecessary risk. Saying no in time can be the best answer for our professional career. Of course, for many, saying no is very difficult.

No is a linguistic entity whose morphosyntactic behavior is more complex than that of all adverbs. For neurolinguistics, denial is a failed instruction. The most compelling way to understand the use of the word "no," in any context, is through a couple of examples. This way we can realize when it is more convenient to use it and when it is not. If someone asks you: don't think about a blue elephant, what happens? Most likely, we have instantly thought of an elephant and visualized it as blue. This is because negation simply exists only in secondary experiences, i.e., in symbolic representations.

It is common that when we hear phrases of denial such as: don't get on the elevator or don't use the machine, to understand them, we must mentally experience what it feels like to be on an elevator, or form in the mind the images of a day using the machine. According to John Grinder, the father of neurolinguistics, the brain understands the yes word and positive instructions, as opposed to negative ones whose effect is a strange u-turn in the natural sense of thought. That's why many people have a hard time saying no and have a proclivity in their minds to say yes.

However, in a negotiation, in the face of a proposal, and at certain moments in our lives—personal or professional—cheerfully saying yes to everything may be the worst response. The no requires analysis, the yes is a more automatic response. How many times have we wondered what would have happened if we had stopped the car in time? The inertia of the yes vote can result in a mirage, a deception that brings more disadvantages and risks.

A no has an opportunity cost. We can visualize it in the following way: professional life is like that of a walker who is going forward along a straight path without obstacles. But suddenly, he comes to a fork. He must decide whether to go left or right. Any choice cancels out the other. It is the same when we are presented with professional choices: either you choose project A or B. You can't do both. Either you decide to live in Mexico City or Guadalajara. It's not possible to live in two parts at the same time. Either you study medicine in Monterrey or architecture in Puebla.

If A is chosen, B is overridden. If you say yes to Mexico City, the possibility of going to Guadalajara to take up residence disappears. If I take this job, I can't take the other. What are the evaluations of the no? These respond to particularities that are directly related to our most solid interests, to our deepest values, to what each one of us in particular calls success. So, no is complex to understand, the appraisals to say no are difficult, personal, and have very characteristic guidelines. The main one is directly related to analysis and evaluation.

It's not the best professional answer when the option presented is worse than the one we have in the bag. The thing is the world isn't that simple or so clear at first glance. Sometimes, we are offered a transfer, we are offered a better position, a job offer, or a cheaper transaction. Be careful, saying yes can get us into a whirlwind that, far from leaving us better, can bring us more harm than good.

A no must be a reasoned answer. If we are going to annul a path, the one to be discarded is the worst. For example, if we are offered a transfer from one city to another, we will have to assess the conveniences and inconveniences. If the position is of a better hierarchy, but in a department whose activity is not related to our career plan, or they make us a job offer with more money, but in a company that presents risks or they propose a transaction of a cheaper product, but of lower quality, the obvious answer is no. No thanks. These are complex propositions given that our first impulse — what Grinder says our brain understands — is to say yes, is to accept. We have the impression that "no" can be synonymous with discourtesy, lack of gratitude, and impropriety. How am I going to say no to a certain approach? The answer is simple: with arguments, with sincerity.

These explanations are built on solid evidence: it is not convenient for me because it is less favorable to me economically; it is more expensive to go and live in another city than to stay in the current one; I function well in a climate that is pleasant to me; It's not congruent with the meaning I want to give to my career; I don't know how to speak the language; I don't feel qualified to fill the position. Each of us has our reasons and our appraisals and we have to validate them. Our own interests must prevail and take precedence over those of others.

Of course, the word is not scary, although sometimes the automatic yes should give us more. A mechanical or involuntary yes can also bring us closer to risk and can be the pivot point for a bad decision. The funny thing is, we're not programmed to see it from that perspective. We need to figure out how to take good advantage of using "no" in communications with others. In professional life, many people use this knowledge to persuade others without them being aware of what is happening.

In order for an action to be carried out or executed effectively, we need to give clear guidance. It is necessary to understand and communicate effectively all the reasons that lead me to stop one course of action and prefer another. The first person who must have that clarity is myself.

A negative can be the best boost for our professional career. In tennis, when a player realizes that the ball hit by the opponent is coming so hard and fast that it will leave the court, he prefers to let it go to win the point.

This is what happens when saying no is the best thing for our professional career: we dodge opportunities that are not convenient for us and proposals that are not as good and wonderful as they may seem at first glance. To do this, we must control our natural impulse to yes, value, and understand our opportunity costs.

We all have a professional life that has milestones, those key moments in which an opportunity is glimpsed that can propel us forward and that growth comes as abundant and fertile rain. You have to detect them in time and know how to differentiate them from those that can turn into a storm before all hell breaks lose.