Wednesday, November 25, 2015

How to Say No by Connie Hatch and Patti Breitman

Reviewed by Jeanne

While I was at a meeting, a friend said he had just finished a book that was making life easier:  How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty by Connie Hatch and Patti Breitman.  When he offered to let me read it, I just couldn’t say no. 

Obviously, I needed this book.

And I did.  I often feel I need to accommodate others even when it’s inconvenient.  I end up with too much to do and I’m cranky and a bit resentful.  The authors understand that and gently talked me through it. The book is plainly written and a quick read, but still manages to make the reader consider the whole process from different angles.  The most important thing, they say, is to buy time when faced with a request and offer suggestions as to how to do that.  I’ve been rehearsing my lines.  “I think I have plans, why?” is probably the one I really need to work on.  That was one of the book’s strengths for me: making specific suggestions of things to say in response.

Another thing I really liked about the book is that it made me think about both sides of the question.  Would someone who asked me to go white water rafting in December really want me to be miserable or is that person asking because he just wants me to feel included?  Maybe he’d be just as relieved not to have a novice—a grey-faced, terrified novice!— go along.  The authors also offer advice on making alternate suggestions of activities, compromises, or the like in order to lessen possible feelings of rejection.  After all, that’s why we have trouble saying “no” in the first place.  

They point out that honesty is important on both sides of the question.  Sometimes a “no” can actually improve a relationship. 

What if someone you know is always hitting you up for money? (One of my favorite suggested responses:  “Wow, that’s a coincidence.  I was just about to ask you for the $5 you borrowed from me last week.”) Or you’ve been asked to be a bridesmaid for the fourth time this year?  How do you say no to your child? They cover all these scenarios and more. 

However, it’s not all about “No.”  The authors also encourage you to think about the offer before offering an automatic refusal.  What are the reasons to say no?  What are the reasons to say yes? Maybe you should move out of your comfort zone and try something new. 

Like reading this book, for example.  I’m very glad I did! 

Flora, Queen of "No."

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