The Art of Saying No Book Summary I How To Say No?

Share with:

Book – The Art of Saying No (Summary)

Author – Damon Zahariades

Genre – Self-help Book

Published in – 2017

As they say “Most of our problems arises from saying Yes too early and not saying NO soon enough”

Since the word “NO” carries a negative connotation, it is as difficult 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 as a result of constantly putting other people’s priorities ahead of your own? Then The Art of saying NO can be of great help.

The book not only covers various possible scenarios one can encounter in personal or professional life but also suggests awesome 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 sense of confident calm that may seem alien to you at this moment.

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 4 parts. It is easy to surf, read and refer later while inculcating these tactics to get better at saying NO.

PART I- The People Pleasing Habit

I like the phrase with Damon starting this section introducing himself as recovering people pleaser.

We often put others’ needs and request 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 with grace, how requestors react to it is neither in your control nor your responsibility.


  • Aggressiveness is quarrelsome. An aggressive individual communicates in a way that’s rude, dismissive, and even threatening, which definitely fast track to failure.
  • As they say 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 end of this section in the book so that you can apply the strategies in Section 3 to master them.

Here are a few reasons from 11 listed in the book –

Woman with Angry face

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. Hence, 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, be everywhere at all times. We are often afraid of missing out on an opportunity if at all we say NO.

IV) Desire to Help Others

We all have a desire to help others. It gives immense pleasure in knowing that we were of help and often people help others to boast about it later. What we don’t realize is 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 response that send mixed signal to requester. Being direct sends clear message.
  • You may consider sharing why you’re turning down request of help. The best approach is to be direct, honest, and respectful.

II) Replacing NO with Another Word

  • This is my favorite. It is always important to use right words. Telling what you are going to do instead of what is asked is much better than direct no, as not many people are good in handling NO.
  • Like when colleague asks you to join for drink, Instead of you saying direct no you may say you guys go ahead I have dinner plan with family or whatever is your reason for not joining for drink.

III) Ask the Requester to Follow up Later

  • This works better at office space. Instead, or outright NO, you may ask requester to check later at a certain time to check if you can accommodate him.
  • It shows your willingness to help and ball is in requester’s court whether he can wait till than or approach other 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 amazing if you’re looking for situation-based solutions to turning down requests of your family, friends, neighbors, bosses, children and gain their respect in the process.

Excerpts from this section –

I) How to Say NO to Friends

  • As, they say friend in need is friend indeed. This makes it real problem refusing to help friends and boundaries with friends do get blurry.
  • Yet it’s important to set right expectation and share your reason. True friend will understand your reason and respect your decision.

II) How to Say No to Co-workers

  • As most of us spend 1/3 of our day at work, maintain healthy relations at office if prerequisite. Though with strategies given in part II will be of great help in turning down requester 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. Being able to resist them – essentially, saying no to ourselves – is key 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 difficult to decline others’ requests. Second, you’ll know how to do it without feeling guilty, and in a way that increases the respect, others have toward you.

You may download The Art of Saying No E-book here. If you liked this book, you may also enjoy the book Think Straight.

You may consider following the author Damon Zahariades and his work at

Please share your suggestions/feedback in the comment or if you have any questions and I will be glad to respond.

Thank you for Reading.


Share with:

Leave a Comment