A Guide to ‘No’

Why people should only have to say ‘no’ to you once. Why it’s not just about words. Tips on how to say it.

Sometimes we get asked to do something that we really don’t want to do. If it’s something that makes us feel unsafe or scared-in-a-bad-way or something we think is wrong then we can say no. In an ideal world we would only have to say no once and people would listen and back off. However sometimes we need to do more to make ourselves heard – which is annoying.

If someone says no to you

Bish guide to no someone should only need to say no onceBelieve them. Persistence isn’t romantic or sweet. It doesn’t show you really care, it just shows that all you care about is what you want. Also you don’t know what someone really wants. So do everyone a favour – if someone says no to you, accept it and move on.

Our bodies say no too

Bish guide to no wordsEven if someone isn’t saying ‘no’ to you, if they are shaking their head, folding their arms, turning away or looking unhappy – they probably don’t wanna do the thing you want them to do. So take the hint yeah?Sometimes it’s hard for people to say no, but that doesn’t mean that they are being coy. Sometimes people haven’t had a great experience of saying no or might fear being rejected if they do.

If you’re wanting some advice on how to say no try some of the following:


Bish guide to no RepetitionSome people just harass constantly. They might think that it’s good to be persistent to try and get what they want, but if this isn’t what you want they might not listen. Idiots. It might be boring and annoying to keep saying no over and over again but sometimes it works.

Show you’ve listened

Bish guide to no show you've heard themSo that they can’t say ‘you’re not even listening to me’ you can repeat what they’ve asked you to do and say to them that you don’t want to do it. If you can establish eye contact and say it firmly, even better.

Turn it around

Bish guide to no turn it aroundSometimes people might try to use your relationship against you. Saying things like ‘if you loved me you’d do this.’ Or, ‘I thought we were going out with each other.’ No matter what relationship you have with someone you don’t have to do something you don’t want to do. Friends, lovers, partners shouldn’t do this to each other. End of.

Use humour

Bish guide to no use humourIf you’re into this, using humour can give you a bit of status but also let them know that you’re not interested. Being random may also confuse them a little bit and help to change the subject. Sometimes this can help to avoid things escalating or getting into a battle of wills.

Have a saying ready

Bish guide to no have a sayingWhen under pressure it can be hard to say something which is really clear. If want to get a bit better at saying no you could have a phrase that you always use which you can practice. Think of it as one of your personal catchphrases. Then it’s easier to blurt out when you’re being harassed into something.

Yes to you, no to them

Bish guide to no yes to you no to themRemember that when you say no to someone else, you’re also saying yes to you. Sometimes it’s good to give to other people but often we forget to give to ourselves. This is important. Ultimately if we can’t give ourselves the things we need then we’re always going to go around making other people happy in the hope this will make us happy too. Saying no to them but yes to you can be tough – we’re not taught to do this very well. So give yourself pat on the back if you manage it, and don’t be tough on yourself if you don’t.

Focus and get tough

Bish guide to no get toughIf someone really isn’t taking no for an answer then you might have to get tough with them. It’s a four stage process

  1. Point out their s****y behaviour
  2. Say what it’s making you feel
  3. Tell them what you want (ie stop)
  4. And what will happen if they don’t.

Sometimes you might need to get help for the last bit. Friends, teachers, parents, youth workers or even Police.

© Justin Hancock, 2015

3 thoughts on “A Guide to ‘No’

  1. Thank you. I was being forced to do things sexually that I didn’t want to do, and now, if it happens again, I will know what to do.

    1. I’m glad the article helped. Sorry you had that experience though. Hopefully other people will be better at treating you consensually in the future.

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