The Art of Saying No – Damon Zahariades Book Summary

The Art of Saying No – Damon Zahariades | Free Book Summary

The Art of Saying No – Damon Zahariades

The Art of Saying No, written by Damon Zahariades, is a self-help book published in 2017.

The book provides a step-by-step, strategic guide for setting boundaries and developing the assertiveness needed to say no when it’s appropriate. The book emphasizes the importance of being honest and direct in communication, and discusses the personal and professional price of procrastination.

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You’re about to learn the unhealthy reasons you dread saying no.

Recognizing them – some are less obvious than others – is the first step toward freeing yourself from the fallacious belief that saying no is mean, cold-hearted, or selfish.Free book, podcast summaries

10 Strategies For Saying No

The biggest challenge you face when learning to say no is overcoming the feelings of guilt, fear, and shame that surface when you disappoint people. That’s no small task. In many cases, it requires unraveling years of training.

The good news is, anybody can do it. If you’re willing to apply the tactics

You’ll gradually curb your people-pleasing tendencies. As you say no more and more often, you’ll discover that doing so gives you the freedom to spend your time pursuing more productive and rewarding endeavors.

Strategy #1: Be Direct And Straightforward

Being straightforward when turning down requests doesn’t mean you’re being discourteous. In fact, your candidness is likely to be appreciated by the requestor, who’ll know that trying to persuade your accommodation will be a waste of time. The individual can spend that time more wisely looking elsewhere for assistance.

Consider the following two responses to a request for help…

“I don’t have time to help you.”

“I don’t have time to help you because I’m working on a crucial report that’s due in two hours.”

The first response prompts the requestor to wonder whether your refusal to help is a personal rejection. That can lead to a confrontation, which helps neither party.

The second response eliminates rejection as a possibility. Instead, it justifies your decision as reasoned and practical. The requestor may dislike your decision, but will be more likely to accept it at face value.

Strategy #2: Don’t Stall For Time(Postponing)

Stalling is a bad idea for a few reasons. First, it strings the requestor along. It encourages him or her to hold out hope for your help even though there’s little chance you’ll be able to deliver. When the requestor realizes you’re unable to offer assistance, and his or her time has been wasted, he or she is likely to become irritated.

Second, stalling makes you appear indecisive. When you fail to respond with a direct “no,” the requestor may become more assertive, believing you can be persuaded to acquiesce.

Third, stalling for time reduces your productivity by prolonging the situation. It forces you to spend more time than necessary declining the request.

When someone asks you for help, and you know you must turn down the request, don’t stall. Be direct and clear.

Strategy #3: Replace “No” With Another Word

The good news is that it’s possible to decline requests without saying the word “no.” It’s just a matter of finding different ways to communicate the same message.

For example, suppose a family member asks you to take him to the airport. You could simply say no and provide a sincere reason. If he’s sympathetic to your circumstances, that should suffice.

But let’s say you know from past experience that he’s not sympathetic. He’s inclined to hear “no” as a personal rejection, and likely to be angered by it. To avoid this reaction, how else might you decline his request?

Strategy #4: Resist The Urge To Offer Excuses

Excuses are an attempt to deceive the person asking you for help. When you give excuses, you face two problems:

  • First, you’re likely to feel guilty for misleading the requestor. Worse, the requestor will probably be able to recognize your deception. None of us are as discreet as we imagine. The result is that we risk earning a reputation for being untrustworthy.
  • Second, it opens the door to negotiations, which require time and effort. For example, suppose your neighbor asks you to help him build his deck this afternoon. You decline the request, explaining that you promised to take your kids to the movies. He responds by saying, “That’s fine. Can you help me tomorrow?”

Strategy #5: Take Ownership Of Your Decision

  • We often avoid taking ownership of our decisions by saying “I can’t”
  • Instead, we should express our decisions as a personal choice by saying “I don’t want to”
  • Giving a reason can help defuse any potential conflict
  • Owning our decisions helps us feel in control and empowered

Strategy #6: Ask The Requestor To Follow Up Later

This isn’t a stalling tactic. Rather, it’s a way to revisit a request when you have more time to think about it. It also allows you to put the onus on the requestor while gauging the urgency of his or her request.

For example, let’s say a harried coworker bursts into your office and exclaims, “I really need your help on this project.” Because you’re busy with your own tasks, you’re unable to accommodate him at that moment. But you might be able to lend a hand later, after you’ve completed your work.

To that end, you respond:

“I don’t have time to help you right now. But check in with me after 4:00 p.m. Things will be less crazy then.”

Strategy #7: Avoid Lying About Your Availability

Someone asks you to do something you’d rather avoid. As an honest person, you’d like to tell them as much. The problem is, you fear that honesty is likely to cause him or her to feel offended, upset, or resentful.

So you lie.

It’s a small, harmless lie. You tell yourself that it’s not as if you’re hurting someone. There are far worse sins than lying about your availability.

By telling the real reason, you’re being direct, which shows respect. You’re showing the requestor that you hold him or her in high enough regard to be candid. You trust that he or she will respect your feelings, and honor your wishes on the matter.

But most importantly, you train yourself to trust your own authority. Rather than lying about your availability and feeling guilty for doing so, you develop a strong sense of personal agency. You learn to rely on your own reasoning when deciding whether to consent to, or turn down, requests and invitations.

Strategy #8: Offer An Alternative

No one likes to be left hanging. When you say no, give the requestor another option. It’ll go a long way toward mitigating his or her disappointment at your inability or unwillingness to lend a hand.

If you’re currently helping the requestor with another task or project, options can also take the form of an either-or decision. For example:

John, I’m barely keeping my head above water helping you with Project ABC. I can continue to help you with that one or help you with this new one. But not both. Which one would you prefer me to work on?”

This approach doesn’t only work in an office environment. It works with friends, family members, neighbors, and even strangers. By offering the requestor an alternative, you’re showing him or her that you care. You’re also lessening the requestor’s disappointment at hearing you turn down his or her request.

Strategy #9: suggest another person who’s better qualified

You’ll sometimes receive requests that are better handled by other people. Declining these requests is good for all parties.

You’re able to save time, and can focus on your own projects and interests; the requestor receives the specialized help he or she needs; and the person to whom you refer the requestor will have an opportunity to show his or her proficiency.

There are many reasons to refer requestors to other people. For example, you might do so because you know someone who has more experience than you in the matter.

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