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How to Say No

So, you might be thinking: What could be so hard about saying a simple word, made up of two letters? Why write a how-to on how to say it?

The answer: because too many people are “too nice.”

We’re in college; we’re worried about making friends and trying to get people to like us. We want to go with the flow and not be a burden to our friend group when deciding on something as a group. We say “sorry” too often, and “sure” and “yeah ok” come out of our mouths more often than not.

There’s nothing wrong with being nice, but if it gets to a point where you feel like people are walking all over you, you don’t have a voice or you’re stringing someone along, you need to learn how to say no.


1. Stop apologizing for every little thing.

You lightly brushed someone’s shoulder on accident while walking to class? Say “excuse me.” You didn’t hurt the person, and you didn’t do anything wrong. You don’t have to say sorry for things that aren’t your fault. As a society, and especially as women, we apologize too often. We apologize for speaking, for showing emotions, for accidentally doing something. None of it is necessary, and “sorry” is said so much it loses its power as a word of apology. Once you’re self-aware of the fact that you might be saying sorry too much, you can start to cut back. Ask a friend to help.


2. Stand up for yourself.

If you’re out with friends, and you’re deciding where to go next, if you have a strong opinion, voice it! Don’t just say “I don’t care, I’ll do whatever you guys want,” unless you actually do not have an opinion. But remember, you have every right to have a say in what the group does.


3. Stop being a people pleaser.

Not everyone in the world has to like you. You don’t have to put on a show to impress everyone. Be yourself, and the right people will flock to you. If you’re busy, and 3 different friends want to hang out, you don’t have to say yes to all or any of them. It’s the same with other tasks and fun activities. They can wait for you.


4. Don’t be afraid of confrontation.

Does your roommate do something that bugs you? Tell her. She’s not going to stop whatever it is until you say something. Be calm and kind, but be assertive.


5. Don’t lead people on.

If someone is crushing on you, and you’re not feeling the same way, don’t be “too nice” to not tell them. You might be afraid of breaking their heart, but you need to let them know, otherwise you’re just leading them on or stringing them along. Miscommunication can lead to situations where you feel uncomfortable.


6. Remember that you’re allowed to change your mind.

Don’t let the fear of others judging your choice stop you from doing what you really want. If you wanted one thing, but now you want another, you can say no to the first thing. It’s your life.

Rachel Kubik

Marquette '19

Journalism and writing-intensive English major from a suburb of Chicago. Avid flute player, artist and Netflix lover.
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