kNOw BS The Need to Say No: How To Be Bullish and Not Bullied


Thanks to Ted Cruz, Rebecca Sedwick, Jonathan Martin and even Ron Perelman, adult bullying is now a topic of conversation. When I had proposed the book “The Need to Say No: How to be Bullish and Not Bullied”  to Hatherleigh/Random House over a year ago, it was not on the media map. However, fear of losing jobs and status is bringing out the worst in people and a discussion on how to manage bullying whether it is a boss, politician, sibling or even spouse is long overdue.



To succeed, you need to kNOw BS.


The global marketplace’s fierce competition is bringing out the worst in people and forms of adult bullying are rampant.  Studies report that one in four people at work have experienced a form of bullying.


In her new book -– The Need to Say No -How to Be Bullish and Not Bullied  author Jill Brooke, a former CNN correspondent and editor in chief of Travel Savvy, Avenue and,  provides actionable advice on how to recognize and manage the stampeding bulls  — family, friends, politicians, kids and co-workers — who will stomp on your good nature as though auditioning for a role in in Riverdance and try to bully or guilt you into saying yes to requests that hinder your success and happiness. 


Even before the tragic suicide of Rebecca Sedwick, the National Institutes of Health (NIH)  tracked how cyber bullying is on the rise. Complicating matters, although every state (except Montana) has anti-bullying laws, these laws direct schools to enact bullying policies and most just report the abuses to the offending kids’ parents who not surprisingly, are often bullies themselves. Many are in positions of power as coaches or school committee members who then utilize their prestige to neutralize the complaints.



With the help of the Joseph Campbell Foundation, Brooke researched mythological, historical and contemporary bull stories and uses them to identify the 10 types of bulls you often encounter and how to partner or steer away from them. (Campbell’s work inspired George Lucas’ Star Wars franchise and Dan Brown’s character of Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code.)


Brooke says: “Women have been programmed to say yes and be accommodating as the only way to nudge into the corporate door or succeed in relationships and work.   No is not selfish but protective and there is an art to say it effectively. Learning to say no to the daily avalanche of requests enables you to have more time to devote to study and practice, the raw materials of achievement. It also gives you more opportunities to focus on the causes and people you care about.”



Furthermore, in our culture “yes” is perceived as moving forward or rushing to an opportunity while no is considered a stumbling block, a big blaring stop sign to progress. In actuality, saying “No” doesn’t always stop movement. In fact, when looked at in a fresh way, saying “No” can be like pressing a pause button to consider alternative routes that can offer a better and more enriching outcome. Saying no to using technology at dinner to enhance quality family time, saying no to invading Syria without a winning strategy, saying no to agreeing to a policy just because it belongs to one political party, saying no to an assault on your integrity, saying no to the belief that change is impossible.”


There is also merchandise that accompanies the book, with the trademarked kNOw BS attached to it.


Because to succeed, you need to kNOw BS and learn to say no to…


— co-workers who undermine or ask you to do tasks not in your job description

— siblings who tell you to take care of doddering dad because “you’re better at it”

—kids who scream so you’ll cave in

—romantic partners who expect you to say yes to all requests

—countless charity and internet pitches that you have no connection to

—your friends who ask a million favors and then vanish the second you need one



Brooke traces the history of  bulls, often aligned with power and resourcefulness throughout history — from  Buddha to ancient Egypt to Wall Street. She also explains the terms bull’s eye, bullish, bully pulpit, bull market and the true history of BS. “Bullies respond to resistance. You have to be able to build shields of protection and learning to say no calmly and confidently is essential for success and happiness.”


Who are the 10 bull archetypes that often populate your life?


1)     The Teddy Bear Bull – A bull inspired by President Teddy Roosevelt who created a bully pulpit for welcoming opposing viewpoints and was patron of TED conferences

2)     Bullet Point Bull – A bull inspired by President John Adams who used bullet points and research to sift through BS and find truth and success

3)      Yell-ow Bull – Like Steve Jobs is brilliant and builds winning teams despite being abusive and unappreciative.  

4)     Brad Pitt Bull and Sandy Bull-ock – They use charm as a weapon and never fall off the pop culture food chain

5)     Sitting Bulls – They know that you can be effective by sitting, waiting and learning before asserting ideas and opinions  

6)     China Shop Bull – Is reckless and to be avoided

7)     Bob the Bully – Uses exclusion as a tactic to lure lieutenants who are grateful for his attention. Creates the illusion he has support of the majority, which instills fear of speaking out against his cruelty. Demeaning and demoralizing people is a blood sport. Engages in verbal violence

8)     Brahman Bull – Makes you feel reluctant to say no because they always trot out their pedigrees to overwhelm you.

9)     Henry the Hoofer –  Plays it safe and never sticks up for anyone. Will drown any project in procedural molasses and as a boss, wants to be agreed with even if it hurts the company’s bottom line. Often Bob the Bully’s lieutenant.

10)  Standing Bull – Stands up for principles and battles labels branded on him. He patiently waits for his strength to be recognized and despite being knocked down, gets up, perseveres and triumphs.


jill_brooke Jill Brooke, is also the playwright of “What’s Eating You?”  the author of the best-selling book, “Don’t Let Death Ruin Your Life” (Penguin) and a columnist for Westchester Magazine.  Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Forbes, Chicago Tribune, Harper’s Bazaar and New York.


The Need to Say No is a helpful little handbook for anyone who has trouble saying no, is sick of all the BS and yearns for those around them to have more substance. A portion of the products profits will also be given to anti-bullying organizations.