The Art of Saying NO: Book Summary

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“The Art of Saying No” is a self help book written by Damon Zahariades. We all know that “Most of our problems arise from saying YES too early and not saying NO soon enough”. We often feel stressed, and unhappy and suffer from anxiety only because we say YES to other people’s priorities ahead of our own. When you say NO, a simple word that can be a sentence in itself, you can release unwanted stress from your mind. In light of the negative connotations attached to the word “NO”, speaking it is as challenging as hearing it, and we all know there are many reasons we shouldn’t say it. Besides covering a wide variety of situations one might come across in everyday life, the book offers many awesome ways to say the necessary word when it’s appropriate.

Why is it hard to say “NO”?

To learn the art of saying NO We have been conditioned to say yes for most of our lives. As kids, we said NO to our parents and teachers and received negative feedback so we said YES more often. In school, we made friends by saying YES to requests to play and hang out. Moreover, when we started our careers we said YES to opportunity in the hopes of getting ahead. But the author says we continue to say yes when we’d rather say “NO” because we wrongly assume that our goals and interests are inferior to other people’s goals and interests. We also believe that prioritizing other people’s interests and saying NO to a friend or co-worker is selfish and will affect our relationship.

So considering all that, how do we find the courage to say NO? There are three important points that everybody must understand when it comes to saying “NO”.

  • Saying NO does not make you selfish

Saying no to people does not make you selfish. In fact, saying no to people so that you can take care of your needs actually increases your generosity.

  • Saying NO for the right reasons

Saying no for the right reasons can strengthen your relationship. If you know that saying yes can actually harm the person in the longer run, say NO.

  • Saying YES unnecessarily

When you are saying yes to please people, you’re also saying NO to something you value. The art of saying NO is necessary to avoid self-sabotaging mistakes.

Always remember the three P’s- People, Project, and Personal well-being. Imagine saying no to your family plans and seeing the disappointment on their faces, or the image of not having the satisfaction of completing that one project you’re passionate about. Or imagine seeing yourself a week from now burnt out and exhausted because you said YES to some other activity.

Also Read: Getting Things Done: Book Summary

How to say “NO” to people?

The art of saying “NO” is something that everyone needs to master. Hence, here are a few ways in which you will be able to refuse others without making them angry.

  • Categorical NO

So when you want to say no to something start with either “I am not” or “I stopped”. Let’s take a look at the examples. If someone asks you to give them a ride after office, just tell them, “I am not taking that route but I can ask someone else to drop you off or call you an Uber. If you want to turn down the request to grab a drink on weekdays then say that “I stopped drinking” or “I don’t drink on weekdays”. By doing this, you make your NO seem like an objective fact and not a personal rejection. You can only not use the word “NO” and still say no. For example- “I only do interviews on weekends”.

  • Reference a commitment

You can also say NO without being a jerk by referencing a commitment. When you reference a commitment, even a commitment to yourself, like “I’ve committed to workout every morning”. People generally understand this quickly and rarely push back. No one likes to break commitments so they will not pressure you into breaking your commitments. Here are a few examples- “I’m committed to a project right now so I need to turn down your request” or “I have made a commitment to spend time with my family this weekend so I won’t be able to come to the party”.

  • Propose a counteroffer

This can be one of the best ways of saying “NO”. You can propose a counteroffer. Instead of saying NO to someone’s request, just say NO to their initial request but counter with a smaller offer. Your counteroffer can include finding other people to help, getting them started, or doing something similar that takes a fraction of the time. For instance- “I will not be able to do it this time but I know someone who will be able to help you, I can put you in touch with them” or “I can’t help you with A and B but I will be available for task C”. Countering a request with an alternative that requires less time is a great way to protect your time and let the requester know that you value their relationship.

As Damian says-

You don’t owe the requester alternatives. It’s just an act of goodwill.

And that’s the end of the book summary of “The art of saying NO”. We hope you guys liked this summary and if you did, then you can check out other book summary articles as well-

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