Book – The Art of Saying No (Summary)
Author – Damon Zahariades
Genre – Self-help Book
Published in – 2017
As they say, “Most of our problems arise from saying Yes too early and not saying NO soon enough.”
Since the word “NO” carries a negative connotation, it is as challenging to utter as it is to hear, and there is a long list of reasons for us all to refrain from saying NO.
Do you regularly feel unhappy, stressed, and exhausted due to constantly putting other people’s priorities ahead of your own? Then, The Art of saying NO can be of great help.
The book covers various scenarios one can encounter personally or professionally and suggests fantastic ways to say NO when it is supposed to be NO.
About the Book –
Saying NO to people is one of the most important skills you can develop. It frees you to pursue your interests, both personal and professional.
To that end, it’ll boost your productivity, improve your relationships, and fill you with a confident calm that may seem alien to you now.
As the book subtitle suggests, How to stand your ground, Reclaim your time and energy, and refuse to be taken for granted. (Without feeling Guilty).
The book is divided into four parts. It is easy to surf, read, and refer later while teaching these tactics to get better at saying NO.
PART I- The People Pleasing Habit
I like the phrase with Damon starting this section by introducing himself as a recovering people pleaser.
We often put others’ needs and requests above our own, and that’s where we go wrong. As the Flight attendant announces in safety guidelines, put your oxygen mask first and then help others.
It’s not only important we say no as and when we know we need to say it, but also how we say it makes the difference and determines its acceptance. We need to be assertive but not aggressive.
1) Assertiveness & Aggression –
Damon distinguishes assertiveness and aggression.
- Assertiveness is declaring your point of view without needing others’ approval or validation. So long as you are being respectful and saying no gracefully, how requestors react to it is neither in your control nor your responsibility.
- Aggressiveness is quarrelsome. An aggressive individual communicates rudely, dismissively, and even threateningly, which fast track to failure.
- People may forget your “NO,” but they will never forget how you said it.
PART II -Reasons We Struggle to Say No
There are as many reasons as there are people, and Damon has condensed them into 11 reasons. As you read the book, I am sure you’ll find yours. Read them all and take the test at the end of this section in the book to apply the strategies in Section 3 to master them.
Here are a few reasons from the 11 listed in the book –
I) We Want to Avoid Offending People –
Most people take no as a personal rejection and do not understand that denying a request is not the same as rejecting the person. Very few people are willing to stand their ground and bear the consequences.
II) We Want to Avoid Seeming Selfish –
We care how others perceive us and often consider others’ opinions of ourselves more important than our own. Hence, being considered selfish is the last thing we want. Therefore, we often say yes to being liked by others.
III) Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) –
We live in times of too many choices. We want to experience everything, do everything, and be everywhere. We often fear missing out on an opportunity if we all say NO.
IV) Desire to Help Others –
We all have a desire to help others. It gives immense pleasure to know that we were of help, and often, people help others to boast about it later. We don’t realize that often helping others leads to ignoring our responsibilities.
PART III – 10 Strategies To Say NO (Without Feeling like a Jerk)
The biggest challenge in developing the habit of saying NO is to overcome feelings of guilt, shame, and fear that surface when you disappoint people.
The good news is it can be done. Here are a few strategies –
I) Be Direct and Straight-Forward –
- Direct yet respectful no is much better than giving a response that sends mixed signals to the requester. Being direct sends a clear message.
- You may consider sharing why you’re turning down requests for help. The best approach is to be direct, honest, and respectful.
II) Replacing NO with Another Word –
- This is my favorite. It is always essential to use proper words. Telling what you will do instead of what is asked is much better than direct no, as few people are good at handling NO.
- When a colleague asks you to join for a drink, Instead of saying directly no, you may say You guys go ahead; I have dinner planned with family or whatever your reason for not joining for a drink.
III) Ask the Requester to Follow up Later –
- This works better in office space. Instead, or outright NO, you may ask the requester to check later at a particular time to see if you can accommodate him.
- It shows your willingness to help, and the ball is in the requester’s court whether he can wait till then or approach others for help.
IV) Offer an Alternative –
This one is for the office as well. Instead of outright NO, you may ask to suggest an alternative medium to seek help/guidance since you are occupied with your work or you have someone better in mind who would be better to ask for help.
PART IV – Situation-Based Examples for Making NO Simple to Inculcate in Daily Life
This section is short, crisp, and unique if you’re looking for situation-based solutions to turning down requests of your family, friends, neighbors, bosses, and children and gaining their respect.
Excerpts from this section –
I) How to Say NO to Friends –
- As they say, a friend in need is a friend indeed. It is a real problem to refuse to help friends, and boundaries with friends get blurry.
- Yet it’s essential to set the right expectations and share your reason. True friends will understand your motivation and respect your decision.
II) How to Say No to Co-workers –
- Most of us spend 1/3 of our day at work, so maintaining healthy relations at the office is necessary. The strategies given in part II will greatly help turn down requesters gracefully.
III) How to Say NO to Ourselves –
- At any given time, we’re subject to temptations that threaten to consume our time, money, labor, and other resources.
- Such temptations usually distract us from our goals. Resisting them – essentially, saying no to ourselves – is critical to living a healthy, rewarding life.
You will walk away with two important lessons at the end of this book. First, you’ll know precisely why it’s so challenging to decline others’ requests. Second, you’ll learn how to do it without feeling guilty and in a way that increases the respect others have toward you.
If you liked this book, you may also enjoy Think Straight.
You may consider following the author Damon Zahariades and his work at ArtofProductivity.com.
Please share your suggestions/feedback in the comments, or if you have any questions, I will gladly respond.
Thank you for Reading.