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I want to know whether using unnecessary "No"s and negations paints individuals with a negative/insulting attitude.

Examples from my dear workplace.

Example 1:

1: "Hey Eric, today is so warm."

2: "No. it's not warm."

vs

1: "Hey Eric, today is so warm."

2: "Really? It's cold."

Example 2:

1: "Well, what I did was implement A and B to get C."

2: "No. Don't use A and B to get C. No."

vs

1: "Well, what I did was implement A and B to get C."

2: "Using A and B to get C isn't the best method."

Example 3:

1: "Okay, I'll finish this first, and then do that."

2: "No. Do that first."

vs

1: "Okay, I'll finish this first, and then do that."

2: "Do that first."

closed as primarily opinion-based by FumbleFingers, Kristina Lopez, Edwin Ashworth, Mitch, aedia λ Apr 24 '14 at 22:32

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    No, I don't think it's inherently insulting to begin a response with "no". But I do think that's just my position, and that the question itself is thus Primarily Opinion-based. – FumbleFingers Apr 24 '14 at 15:14
  • I see what you did there. But why do people feel the need to put a big, fat "NO" in front, when their following phrase clearly demonstrates their disagreement? Like you could've just said "I don't think it's inherently insulting to..." – NoName Apr 24 '14 at 15:18
  • Yes, I see what you mean. Sometimes I wonder why people feel the need to disagree at all - haven't they noticed that I'm always right? :) – FumbleFingers Apr 24 '14 at 15:52
  • It adds a certain clarity to start out by indicating disagreement and then define whys or hows later when presumably the first speaker is paying attention. – Oldcat Apr 25 '14 at 0:01
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No. The premise of your question is wrong. The initial 'no' is not unnecessary, you are not accounting for time. You begin to explain yourself from simple to complex, in order to allow for better comprehension and interaction within a conversation. Saying 'no' twice as well is not unnecessary but signals additional certainty, because there are no true absolutes within natural languages. The probability value of 'no' is by convention about 0.08678, so saying no twice is P(!A)/2 = 0.04339 which is twice as certain but still pretty probable to not be true.

So, depending on the context, not using no as often might weaken the certainty of your statements and it might make it look like you want to hold a monologue by using a less interactive conversation style (that is, not provide information divided into units of recursively increasing complexity but rather as a single stream of less-interruptible illustration), or it might do something entirely different, because everything is more complicated than you inquire.

  • Damn.......................... Must be right. I will not question it. I will just walk blindly through life and believe. – NoName Apr 24 '14 at 15:59
  • Your answer doesn't make any sense to me. What does probability have to do with connotation? – Joe Z. Apr 24 '14 at 19:53
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Direct contradiction can be seen as confrontational, or just emphatic. It's often more polite to phrase a disagreement in a way that shows some respect for the original thought, but diverges from it.

In your first example, "No. It's not warm." gives the first speaker no credit for a valid opinion, though I think your alternate response, "Really? It's cold." may actually be more aggressive. "Really?" can mean "Is that really true?" when the speaker has just learned something surprising. But "Really?" when rejecting something as false sounds more like "Can you really think that?" or "Can you really expect me to believe that?" It sounds pretty harsh. I'd propose a third option, "I find it rather chilly." This response, and similar phrasings, express the same thought, that it isn't warm, but by personalizing the disagreement leaves room for both opinions to be valid.

In your second example, I think the difference is emphasis. Both are telling the first speaker that their plan is a bad one, but the first response, "No. Don't use A and B to get C. No." suggests that the plan is a terrible, horrible idea and should not be considered. The final "no" seems unnecessary to me, but does add emphasis. If the first speaker was proud of their plan, then a particularly sound rejection of it might be hurtful. The second response, "Using A and B to get C isn't the best method." suggests that the plan might be okay, but there's a better one. In this case, the circumstances should determine which is better. If the plan really is that bad, a strong rejection might save a lot of hassle down the road, where someone might decide to stick with their original plan in the face of the less emphatic response.

In your third example, I see much less difference, though the first one is possibly clearer. It makes it immediately clear that the second speaker is objecting to the plan. In the second example, someone could actually be confused about the meaning of "Do that first." if they aren't sure that "that" is the same "that" from the first sentence. Depending on the context, it might not be.

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A famous American politician might refer to such people as "nattering nabobs of negativism".

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