Just say iNo


Spoiler alert!I can’t tell if this app is a gag, or seriously intended to help people find ways to say “no,” when they don’t know how to back away from an awkward request. If you do use it, you should probably assume the warranty comes with the terms caveat emptor.


Here’s the one thing I know about saying “no.” Don’t count on anyone believing you. In my experience you can pretty much say “no” politely, assertively, aggressively or with a legal contract spelling out the terms of your refusal. If the other person has already decided you can’t possibly say anything other than “yes,” the only answer they will hear is “yes.”

This includes best friends, family, spouses who should know better by now, colleagues, Mormons, Baptists and Jehovah’s Witnesses, bleeding-heart liberals who believe the best in everybody, stone-hearted conservatives who know damn well nobody in their right mind would say “no,” and bosses. Especially bosses.

And spouses who should know better because you’ve let them down so many times before when you said “no” and they knew you couldn’t possibly mean it. And yet, somehow, they know that you love them so much you couldn’t possibly mean “no” this time.

And bosses. Especially bosses.

I first learned this lesson being raised Baptist Preacher’s Kid. In Baptist Preacher’s Families (BPFs) no one could possibly refuse a request because they wouldn’t have made the request if Jesus didn’t want them to ask to start with. After all, the Bible says Jesus speaks to each of us personally, so if you don’t agree with a request it’s because you weren’t listening to Jesus.

I thought this was unique to BPFs, but as I grew older I found out I couldn’t have been more wrong. The perception of your “no” remains the same; the reason is different. In the case of lovers and spouses you couldn’t possibly mean “no” because you wouldn’t really say that if you loved them.

Then I discovered that best friends feel the same way, except that best buds don’t love each other, we’re just thick as thieves. And colleagues feel the same because their jobs are more important than yours.

Bosses, of course, don’t hear you say “no,” because you’re just an employee. And, if you think your “no” means anything to the boss, you really don’t understand the workplace.

I mention this last point because I was looking at the ways to say “no” to your boss in the iPad app iNo and I decided that this was one of those apps with a marvelous since of humor, but you should never take it seriously. Trust me, if you say “no” to your boss using any of the suggestions provided by iNo, you will be out on your ass on the street saying “no” to creditors who want what little money you can cough up.

Good for a few laughs

iNo presents itself as a catalogue of ways to say no to persistent requests or in uncomfortable presentations. Perhaps they were even serious, and if they are, you shouldn’t be. A good many of the answers are decent wisecracks, but hardly likely to get you out of anything.

The iNo interface is almost self-explanatory. The opening screen provides a series of categories to help you begin narrowing your search down to the perfect “no.” You can search based on who’s making the request, what they are requesting, or even the circumstances under which the request is made.

Pick the best situation for you you. You may need to find a no for a specific person, or even a specific request.

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Once you launch your general category, the iNo leaps to a selection wheel with a list of names, places or questions. This should get you to the possible no’s that will best address your current dilemma.

Narrow your search down with the iPad selection wheel.

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Finally you reach a series of possible responses that should, theoretically, help you wiggle out of whatever obligation you friends, co-workers or church members are trying to coerce you into.

The app provides a few additional wrinkles. If you just want to find a random “no” (kind of like those 8 Balls kids shake for random advice), you can punch the random button. You can even submit your own no’s for possible inclusion in the app.

I submitted this to iNo because it was the only “no” that even realistically addressed the situation in any of the places I worked. It didn’t actually communicate “no” to the people making the request; it simply provided them with a factual assessment of the situation that they could still choose to ignore.

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My “no” was accepted for the app yesterday. It is a good answer. Good luck with it because it never actually worked for me.

A lesson in social etiquette

Here’s the problem with apps like iNo. People who lack the social savvy to extract themselves from difficult requests, often lack the social savvy to discriminate between the few good answers provided by iNo and the answers that will help them dig holes so deep they might as well cover themselves in dirt.

Some of them, by the way, seem like they were written for sit com dialogue. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. Put those in the category of “things you wish you’d said (but then, on second thought, were glad you didn’t because your poor impulse control might have actually inspired you to say them).” A number of them deal with a sense of irony or sarcasm that will be lost on the most obtuse requester, and insulting to the more astute ones. A few might even get you fired, or divorced.

iNo offers this as a good way to tell your boss “no” when he or she makes a request. This totally ignores the fact that when Bosses make requests they aren’t really making requests.

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Consider the answers iNo offers for you to give when you say “no” to bosses. All of them beg the question of whether or not you can safely say “no” to a boss. In my experience, bosses never really make requests, they simply issue orders politely. At least the bosses who care about employee’s feelings do.

I also suspect the developers didn’t have the money for an editor to make sure the answers were actually filed in the right category. The last answer provided to use for requests at a tea party rally is probably better suited for the next category—tree huggers.

Provide this excuse at a tea party rally and you’re likely to end up as the target of a viral video.

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Call me overly paranoid, but I can’t imagine these answers won’t get you into even deeper trouble.

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As I was writing this blog, I realized that carrying around an iPad and spinning the wheels when someone made a request seemed pretty dumb. Perhaps you could pull it off with the iPhone, but with your iPad?

I guess you could say, “Let me check my calendar app,” and then hold it in front of your face so they couldn’t see what you were doing. But that seems just as clumsy and awkward as coming up with an excuse.

I got a good laugh from many of the answers offered in iNo. But when I actually considered whether I could actually use any of the answers and actually get off the hook without insulting someone, I had to just say iNo.

Jenny Manytoes rates iNo

Jenny Manytoes would take a nap next to iNo. But Jenny never feels the need to excuse herself from any request. I usually just say no, and know damn well whoever’s asking won’t believe me.

The Jenny Manytoes Rating System

Jenny Manytoes, our polydactyl cat
  • When Jenny makes biscuits on a product she thinks she’s in heaven.
  • When Jenny purrs over a product she’s very happy.
  • When Jenny naps next to a product it’s okay with her.
  • When Jenny bunches her tail she can live with a product, but she has higher expectations.
  • When Jenny leaves it in the litter box….I don’t think I need to explain this one.

Contact me at Email iPad Envy, or
Email The Hidden Grimoire.

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About Phillip T Stephens

Phillip T. Stephens disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle twenty years before he was born, creating a time travel paradox so confusing it remains unspoken between physicists and sci-fi writers to this day. Follow @stephens_pt
This entry was posted in 3 Stars - nap, Entertainment, Time Wasters and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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