Latest News

Jason Rantz

The ‘Seattle NO’ does not exist

KIRO Radio's Jason Rantz says having a hard time telling people no is not unique to Seattle. (AP Photo/file)

Taken from Friday’s edition of The Jason Rantz Show.

There’s been this blog post that’s been going viral. I’ve been seeing this on Twitter and Facebook everywhere.

It seems like everyone is reading this, although I suspect because it’s seven pages long and it’s very repetitive, that really they’ve only read the first three paragraphs because really that’s all you need to know to get the gist of this story. It’s called: “The Seattle NO: Liars or charmers? Decoding the maybespeak of Javatown.”

Author Amie Ryan writes:

“If you ever plan to visit Seattle or interact in any way with someone from the Pacific Northwest, it might be helpful to learn about the Seattle NO. In Seattle, for whatever reason, people shy away from directly expressing a No in any situation. Those of you not from the area may be confused: how can someone avoid saying No?

Well, it’s tricky. Often we mean No and whatever we do say instead of No, we assume the listener knows that what we mean is NO. If you invite someone from Seattle to an event and they respond, “Hmm yeah that sounds interesting, I’ll have to check,” that means NO. If they say “Maybe” and then you don’t hear from them for a while, that means NO. If they say “I don’t know” that means NO.”

I have definitely struggled with this, not deciphering if someone means no when I’m asking them to do something. I’m struggling and have struggled with saying no, without actually saying no.

There have been so many times where people ask me to do something, to hang out with them, to go to a movie, to go to a concert, to go to a speech, to go on a little mini vacation, a day trip, and when people ask me those things I am so incredibly thankful for these people in my life, that they actually care enough to want to hang out with me, so I’m sort of flattered, I like that, I like the attention. But man, do I almost never want to do what they suggest.

I definitely am someone who likes to be the planner of the event. I want to have the control. I don’t want you picking the movie we want to go see. I want to pick the movie, I’ll invite you. But at the same time I want to be invited.

So I’ve definitely done what this blog post says. I’ve definitely done the ‘Maybe, yeah let me see what I’m doing that day,’ and never get back to the person. I’ve done the whole ‘Yeah, that seems really interesting, let me see what I’m doing on my schedule, my calendar’s not loading, I’m sorry, I’ll figure it out and I’ll get back to you,’ and then sometimes I don’t. Or sometimes I wait until after the event has passed and then send them a text. I’ve totally done that before.

But here’s the thing, I don’t think that the ‘Seattle NO,’ I don’t think that exists. I think it’s sort of the ‘West Coast No.’ I think that’s just how people on the West Coast are. We’re sort of chill. We’re sort of low key and we don’t necessarily want to say no because it’s kind of rude. I think for the most part, we’re a pretty thoughtful bunch of people. I think we’re mostly polite and we don’t want to just say no. We don’t want to downright reject you because also it’s about our ego, we want you to keep asking us.

So when I see something like this – the ‘Seattle NO – I kind of get a little annoyed that an author from Seattle is sort of perpetuating this myth that we are completely wanting to avoid any conflict, that we are people who sort of lie, and purposefully confuse because we kind of have that reputation. We certainly have the reputation of the Seattle Freeze, where people from out of town they come up here, they say hi and try to be friends with people in Seattle and it’s very cliquish. You’re sort of just given the ice factor. That does exist and that is different from other cities on the West Coast.

But the ‘Seattle NO’ does not exist. This is something we all do. I’m not entirely sure why we do it. I know why I do it. But it’s not the ‘Seattle No.’ It’s the kind-of-low-key-we-don’t-want-to-let-you-down-but-we-want-you-to-keep-asking-us-to-go-out NO.

Taken from Friday’s edition of The Jason Rantz Show.


Jason Rantz on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM

  • Tune in to KIRO Radio weeknights at 7pm for The Jason Rantz Show.


comments powered by Disqus
Latest News