I recently read a post by Seth Godin called No. It expressed exactly where I’d been for about a week. And I was feeling guilty about it. You know, “the customer is always right,” “turn the other cheek,” “grin and bear it,” “don’t sweat the small stuff,” be the “bigger person”?

In the customer service industry, and especially when providing spa services, it is my job to please, to provide comfort, to accept people as they are, to go the extra mile, and to provide a calm environment.

But what is also true is that part of my brand is authenticity: to show up real, to relate truthfully, and to provide luxurious services from a place of personal peace, joy and contentment.

But what happens when I am in a challenging place? When I don’t have extra to give? When people push my already challenged boundaries or act disrespectful? Do I suck it up? Do youalways?

Remember when you were two – or so? You learned that you could choose, you could have an opinion, you could say no. I once dubbed one of my kids “Mr. Opposite” because of his habit of saying no to almost everything.  (Sorry, probably not my best parenting moment.) But I raised my children to have a voice, to be able to articulate their needs and boundaries, to be in “choice,” to take personal responsibility, and to be honest.

Hopefully if we “get” to say no in these developmental years, we will be able to do so as adults. That’s not to say there is never a time or place to put aside our own personal comfort, opinion, or desire.

One of my favorite quotes is from Dag Hammarskjold (Swedish Statesman and United Nations official): “Never for the sake of peace and quiet, deny your own convictions.”

When you think about it, you’re not just saying no; you’re also saying yes. Yes to what you would rather have. Yes to what would work for you. Yes to honoring your own limits, boundaries, and things that are important to you. Yes to what you perceive as a healthy interaction or way of doing business.

Truly, there needs to be “no” if there is ever going to be “yes.” Just like the day needs the night, light needs the dark, black needs white, love needs hate. It is the yin and yang of the universe. Saying no to even the good thing allows you to say yes to the best thing.

Now, I’ll admit, as a customer, I want businesses to say yes to me, even when I’m wrong, even when I’m asking for more than they really want to give. It’s the American way, right? And some may say, “If they won’t give me what I want I’ll do business elsewhere.”

That’s not how I do it, and I hope my customers  feel the same. If I like a place, product, or service, I’m going to allow for give and take. It’s not much different than my personal relationships, really. Each party gets to choose, each gets to say yes and no. Reciprocity is my desired model of interaction.

In the end, let your yes be yes and your no be no.  Practice saying yes to more of what you want. And when you say no, be still and breathe. It’s OK. Really.

See you at the spa!