In the Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms of the U.S. Dept. of Defense need-to-know is a criterion used in security procedures. It requires the custodians of classified information to establish, prior to disclosure, that the intended recipient indeed must have access to the information in order to perform his or her official duties.

Streaming: An act or instance of flowing; relating to or being the transfer of data (as audio or video material) in a continuous stream specifically for immediate processing or playback; first known usage 1980; online video streaming such as Megaupload, Pirate Bay; audio streaming such as Grooveshark, Pandora and Sogza.

The American parties to an agreement are in constant communication with each other, streaming relevant information as they receive it. There is no need to front-load the agreement with the details.

One of the most critical success factors in the U.S. business is speed. Parties to an agreement are more interested in getting started on carrying out an agreement than in defining and discussing its details.

Why we find it hard to say no

To learn to say no, we have to first understand what’s resisting us about it. Below are common reasons why people find it hard to say no:

You want to help. You don’t want to turn the person away and you want to help where possible, even if it may eat into your time.

Afraid of being rude. I was brought up under the notion that saying “No”, especially to people who are more senior, is rude.

Wanting to be agreeable. You don’t want to alienate yourself from the group because you’re not in agreement.

Fear of conflict. You are afraid the person might be angry if you reject him/her.

Fear of lost opportunities. Perhaps you are worried saying no means closing doors. didn’t want to say no as she felt it would affect her promotion opportunities in the future.

Not burning bridges. Some people take “no” as a sign of rejection. It might lead to bridges being burned and relationships severed.

From Celestine Chua of The Personal Excellence Blog.

When to say No

“When to say No”, from the Mayo Clinic website on stress management:

Focus on what matters most. Examine your obligations and priorities before making any new commitments.

Weigh the yes-to-stress ratio. Is the new activity you’re considering a short- or long-term commitment?

Take guilt out of the equation. Don’t agree to a request you would rather decline out of guilt or obligation.

Sleep on it. Before you respond, take a day to think about the request and how it fits in with your current commitments.

How to say no.

Say no. The word no has power. Don’t be afraid to use it. Be careful about using substitutes phrases, such as “I’m not sure” or “I don’t think I can.”

Be brief. State your reason for refusing the request, but don’t go on about it. Avoid elaborate justifications or explanations.

Be honest. Don’t fabricate reasons to get out of an obligation. The truth is always the best way to turn down a friend, family member or co-worker.

Be respectful. Many good causes land at your door, and it can be tough to turn them down. Complimenting the group’s effort while saying that you can’t commit shows that you respect what they’re trying to accomplish.

Be ready to repeat. You may need to refuse a request several times before the other person accepts your response. Calmly repeat your no, with or without your original rationale, as needed.

Definition of No

MerriamWebster writes: to give a negative answer or reply to a question or request, or offer in a way that shows a negative response; used to introduce a statement that corrects an earlier statement; used as a function word to express the negative or an alternative choice or possibility; used to express negation, dissent, denial, or refusal.

Middle English, from Old English nā, from ne not + ā always; akin to Old Norse & Old High German ne not, Latin ne-, Greek nē- . First Known Use: before 12th century. Its synonyms are never, none, nothing, noway, nowise.

So uncomfortable (unbequem) and unpleasant (unangenehm) for Americas ears and eyes – no, negation, dissent, denial, refusal.


Going back on an agreement is so common in American culture that there are many words and phrases to describe this action. Some of these include:

Abrogate – To end or cancel an agreement in a formal and official way; to fail to do what is required (such as a responsibility). From Latin abrogates: ab- + rogare to ask, propose a law. First known use: 1526. Example: The U.S. Congress can abrogate old treaties that are unfair to Native Americans.

Back Out – To withdraw especially from a commitment or contest. First known use: 1807. Example: She backed out of her offer to help with the wedding plans.

Bail Out – To parachute from an aircraft; to abandon a harmful or difficult situation. First known use: 1930. Example: If the negotiations don’t work, we may decide to bail out of our contract.

Cop Out – To back out (as of an unwanted responsibility; to avoid or neglect problems, responsibilities, or commitments. First known use: 1952. Example: Don’t cop out on your promise to pay for dinner.

Go Back On – To be treacherous or faithless to; betray; to fail to keep; renege on. First known use: 1859. Example: He went back on his promises.

Pull Out – Leave, depart; withdraw. First known use: 1855. Example: The company manager decided to pull out of her contract when it stopped being profitable.

Recant – To publicly say that you no longer have an opinion, belief, etc. that you once had. From Latin recantare: re- + cantare to sing. First known use: 1535. Example: Witnesses threatened to recant their testimony when the court released their names to the paper.

Renege – To refuse to do something that you promised or agreed to do. From Medieval Latin renegare. First known use: 1548. Example: My friend promised to help me move, only to renege the next day.

Take Back – to make a retraction of; withdraw. First known use: 1775. Example: I take back what I said about the business: they’re not as amazing as I thought they were.

Weasel Out – To evade a responsibility, especially in a despicable manner; renege. Example: I agreed to help my neighbor, now I just need to find a way to weasel out of it.

Withdraw – To remove (money) from a bank account; to take (something) back so that it is no longer available; to take back (something that is spoken, offered, etc.). From Middle English: with + drawn to draw. First known use: 13th Century. Example: After difficulties with communication, the customer decided to withdraw from his contract with the company.

Arrested Development

The American television show Arrested Development which aired from 2003 to 2006 and was revived in 2013, follows the story of a wealthy family that recently lost their money in a scandal involving the family’s real estate business.

In the first episode Michael Bluth becomes CEO and President of the Bluth Company after his father is arrested for crimes involving the company. Immediately all of their assets are frozen, and they have to get by with very little money. Most of the family moves into one house together, and Michael sells their car and jet in order to have a little money.

Despite their sudden loss of funds everyone except Michael tries to keep living extravagant lifestyles, and whenever Michael finds out about his family’s excessive spending and low-income, he tells them ‘no.’

For example, Michael refuses to buy his brother Gob small items like desk lamps or frozen bananas, and he doesn’t support his career as a magician. He also refuses to let Gob live in the family house, and tells him that he can’t live in the family boat or at the company office either.

Whenever Gob has ideas about the company (most of which are illegal) Michael tells him no. When Gob tries to escape from prison by jumping from a balcony (around 30 feet in the air) onto Michael to break his fall, Michael also tells him no. And this is only a small sample of the times Michael tells Gob no, not to mention the numerous times he uses this word with the rest of the family.

Despite his efforts to help save the family and their business (and turning down good job offers to do so) his constant ‚no’ keeps the family from appreciating him. The other members of the family often describe him negatively, calling him such things as selfish, robot, and chicken, and at one point, Michael and his sister Lindsay discuss Michael’s helpfulness:

Lindsay: “You’re, like, the least charitable person I know.”

Michael: “I don’t do anything for myself; everything that I do is for this family.”

Lindsay: “You don’t do it for us. You just do it because you love being the guy in charge, because you love saying ‘no.’”

“Don’t jump on me!”

Can-do people

Can-do: Marked by willingness to tackle a job and get it done; characterized by eagerness to accept and meet challenges; a can-do kind of person; first Known Use of Can-Do: 1945.

Perhaps the most famous fictitious can-do American and cultural icon is Rosie the Riveter. Rosie represents the American women who labored in urban factories and replaced men who had left to fight in the Second World War. Rosie represented the ideal American laborer: loyal, efficient, patriotic, and pretty. Throughout history and up to the present, Rosie the Riveter is traditionally used as a symbol of women’s economic prowess and feminism.

Seldom does an American feel comfortable saying no to a customer, a boss or to a colleague. A no signals either lack of ability or lack of effort or both. Responding with a no to a request leads to that person – customer, boss, colleague – turning to others for assistance. And that means a loss of business.

Westinghouse Company’s War Production Committee commissioned Pittsburgh artist J. Howard Miller in 1942 to create a series of posters to boost public support for the war effort. The “We Can Do It!” poster came to be associated with “Rosie the Riveter.”

Nike Inc.’s “JUST DO IT.” trademark normally appears alongside the Nike logo, the Swoosh. Nike’s share of the domestic sport-shoe business rose from 18% to 43% from 1988 to 1998.

IBM’s slogan is a playful use of IT as in Information Technology and the pronoun “it.” The slogan boasts competence and forward movement in the world of technology.

Dell Computer’s slogan advocates for seizing the day, or “carpe diem,” and exploiting it. It argues for deriving more function and greater satisfaction from the present moment.

“At any given time“

Americans like their way of entering into and managing agreements. Flexibility is critical. They move fast, change directions just as quickly. Americans reassess constantly, initiate and react. All this, often with many people involved: colleagues, business partners, customers.

Fluid, flexible, fast. So, too, the agreements Americans enter into. Agreements change. High priority, low priority. Now, later. This way, that way. Yes becomes no. No becomes yes. Whatever gets the job done.

Americans are practical and pragmatic. At times uncoordinated, sloppy, ill-planned, impatient. It’s a big country. There is a lot going on. Agreements are what they are, at any given time.


The first volunteer firehouse was developed in 1736 by founding father Benjamin Franklin. Many early American presidents served as volunteer firefighters, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Buchanan.

People who witnessed fires but didn’t help to extinguish them were often mocked and ridiculed. In the early 1800s, Marina Betts, serving as a volunteer firefighter, would dump buckets of water over the heads of bystanders who watched the fires instead of helping to end them.

Full-time paid firefighters didn’t exist in the US until 1850. There still aren’t many people who are paid to do this job, and today, more than 70% of all American firefighters are volunteers. In fact, volunteer firefighters are considered so prestigious that firefighter is the 6th most common answer that American children give to the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”