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How to Say “No” Without Saying No

(Wielding a pitchfork will otherwise suffice)

By emPublished 4 months ago 4 min read
Top Story - May 2023
How to Say “No” Without Saying No
Photo by Daniel Herron on Unsplash

A verbal slap. An emotional dropkick. An intangible war zone. Saying no is a cataclysmic concept. It stings, it scars and it’s friggin’ scary, right? And yet, we’re all faced with the need, the desperation, to say it.

But we just don’t know how.

It’s weird when you think about it because it’s probably the one thing that binds us as a species the most: the autonomous desire to refuse. To deny. To turn down. Most of us, most of the time, want to say no to something for some reason. But we falter, we hesitate, we feel bad: and so we say yes.

Well no more.



Not today. Not on my watch. Not in my house. No longer will we succumb to our polite and societal conditioning that “saying no” is a no-go. It’s not taboo. It’s not forbidden. It’s not wrong to disagree or shake your head.

But I get it, it’s tricky. It feels sticky and uncomfy and a little ghkghldfhugslju saying no to somebody. It’s hard and unheard of and we’re wildly unfamiliar with the execution (which is exactly what it feels like. An execution).

So. Let’s practise, shall we?

Try these out for size:

  • No, I don’t want to meet up today — sorry, I’ve got carpal tunnel and I can’t open my front door.
  • No, I don’t want to FaceTime — I can’t, my nan is seeing demons again.
  • No, I don’t want to pop out for a pint — ah man, I only drink in metric units.
  • No, I won’t be buying your product — yes. And on a completely unrelated note, today is Opposite Day in my culture.
  • No, that dress does not go with those shoes — have you considered staying home today?
  • No, I’m not free tonight (I mean, I am, but not for you) — my psychic told me I’d die last Tuesday, so I’ve got a couple funeral arrangements to cancel.
  • No, I don’t want to marry you — *severs all fingers rendering it impossible to wear a ring.*
  • No, I haven’t done the assignment — my homework ate my dog. Honestly, it was a nightmare. Sticky notes engulfed him whole. I could hear him choking on the bibliography. The spiral spine from my notebook wound around his neck, paper cuts tore into his fur, his whimpering was masked only by the sound of the stapler sealing his mouth closed. It was a massacre. I just…. I mean…. I might need an extension and possibly three months of counselling if at all possible?
  • No, it’s not a nice lasagna — did I mention that I only eat vertically arranged foods?
  • No, I don’t want to come in for a cuppa — I cannot pass over the threshold unless invited in by the founder of these here lands.
  • No, I don’t think Game of Thrones is a good show — my opinions mean nothing in the context of the great and vast cosmos in which we shall all one day meet our existential demise. You know?
  • No, I don’t want to attend your baby shower — I’ve only got experience with baths.
  • No, your stand-up performance was not good — *grunts whilst on a pogo stick to mimic the sound of laughter.*
  • No, I don’t want to try your homemade pâté — I’m sorry, the only spreading I do is of my legs.

Granted, these suck.

These are stupid. Unrealistic. Will likely make the situation worse.

But just think! If you can survive a couple of these, then you can definitely say no to that mini golf invite you’ve just received in aid of staying home to shampoo your chinchilla (not a euphemism. But it should be).

These are silly, whimsical but hopefully prompting examples of how to say no without having to say no. Because though that minuscule but mighty word can leave quite a resounding wound in its place, it’s not a bad thing. If you figure out alternate ways of saying it, you’ll see.

You’ll realise.

You’ll know.

Fancy giving them a go?

(This is the part where you nod your head along the horizontal access. Well played, son).

self helphow tohappinessadvice

About the Creator


I’m a writer, a storyteller, a lunatic. I imagine in a parallel universe I might be a caricaturist or a botanist or somewhere asleep on the moon — but here, I am a writer, turning moments into multiverses and making homes out of them.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (51)

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  • Eiman Fatima2 months ago

    Hey em! That was a great article. In the beginning, I was also so polite that I could not say no to anybody! But from now on I will listen to my brain not my heart! I will not think about what it will make them feel about me, I will think what it will what it will makes me feel. Looking forward to you for more articles like this. Keep it up em!!

  • lissa jade3 months ago

    such an unexpected turn, I clicked on the subscribe button immediately ;)

  • Medjine Louissaint4 months ago

    Now that was clever… lol I loved it!

  • Raghavendra S Rao4 months ago

    Nice story. Fun to read.

  • Sarah Glass4 months ago

    I love the way this flowed! It was very entertaining! Great job! 😃

  • Nida khan Durrani4 months ago

    Interesting......congratulations on top story...

  • GOOD TOPIC..............

  • The Dani Writer4 months ago

    This is PURE genius!!!

  • Babs Iverson4 months ago

    Congratulations on Top Story too!!!💖💖💕

  • Babs Iverson4 months ago

    Spectacular!!! Left a heart ♥

  • Canuck Scriber4 months ago

    Good topic, nice writing. Congrats on Top Story!. Subscribed to your owkr now.

  • Judith Stephanie4 months ago


  • Simon George4 months ago

    Loved the bullet points. I haven't come across many writers that can make me laugh. Nice work, Em. 👍

  • Heather Hubler4 months ago

    Congratulations on Top Story! This was an absolute joy to read, and I loved the humor in your excuses. I also appreciated the message woven throughout with a bit of humor and levity, that sometimes, you just need to say no :)

  • Gerald Holmes4 months ago

    LOL!! "my homework ate my dog." Loved this part so much I read it three times. Couldn't stop laughing. Excellent work. Congrats on the Top Story.

  • Evil4 months ago

    This is genius!! i really like it <3

  • Mariann Carroll4 months ago

    The hard part of it all is : When you mean No but your action says otherwise. Excellent FYI. Congratulations on Top Story 🥳

  • Paul Stewart4 months ago

    This is genius, Em! Hilarious, but with a very good point! Loved the line about legs haha and, can't cos my nan is seeing demons again. It's the again part that made me laugh most haha! Congrats on well deserved Top Story!

  • Mateusz4 months ago

    Well done!

  • Nwokeke chinwe4 months ago

    For us that keep saying no lol. Thanks em very insightful

  • Godwin Miracle 4 months ago

    The Words are nice, went straight.

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