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When I Say No, I Feel Guilty: How to Cope - Using the Skills of Systematic Assertive Therapy

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  1,378 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews
The best-seller that helps you say: "I just said 'no' and I don't feel guilty!" Are you letting your kids get away with murder? Are you allowing your mother-in-law to impose her will on you? Are you embarrassed by praise or crushed by criticism? Are you having trouble coping with people? Learn the answers in "When I Say No, I Feel Guilty," the best-seller with revolutionar ...more
Paperback, 324 pages
Published 1975 by Bantam Books
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Dec 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book is certainly dated, but I can't recommend it enough for those who struggle with asserting themselves in various situations. It offers incredibly helpful methods for coping with criticism, manipulation, and other relationship issues. Chapters 2 and 3, describing our assertive human rights, seem common-sense, but are often undermined by family, religion, and culture. Just reading them helped open my eyes to the ways I forfeit these rights to others, and helped me recall those rights duri ...more
Aug 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Classic assertiveness training manual

Take a trip back to the 1970s, when leisure suits, long sideburns and “assertiveness training” were all the rage. Psychologist Manuel J. Smith was a pioneer in the life-changing assertiveness training movement. Reading his bestseller about it decades later adds a new perspective. Some of his advice still feels relevant, particularly when he urges you to beware of those who try to impose their standards of “right” and “wrong” to manipulate you. Smith lists you
Jonas Saul
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent Book! Loved it and it really helped me.
Peter Sharpe
Jul 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I'll admit I was skeptical going into this book. After reading the preface and the "Bill of Assertive Rights" I thought that this book should have been subtitled - "How to be an obnoxious git and get away with it". After all, I grew up in the UK, we have a culture where you can't change your mind or tell people you don't care. Still, I saw the book mentioned more and more, so decided to give it a try.

My initial assumptions were totally wrong. This is an amazing book, one of those that makes you
Jan 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a book the delivers on its promise. While it has a bit of the usual padding that one finds in self-help books, even the padding serves the point of introducing the concepts of assertiveness. First you get the theory of assertiveness, then you get extremely practical techniques for being assertive.

I can't hold on to copies of this book because I keep giving it away to friends. Luckily you can often find it in the free bin at Your Neighborhood Used Book Store.

Some of the sample dialouges a
Jan 07, 2009 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all of my friends
Recommended to میترالبافی by: fahime
اغلب اوقات، بعضيها با اين باور غير واقع بينانه که آدم سالم کسي است که مسالهاي ندارد، به اين نتيجه میرسند که ادامه ندادن اين طور زندگي، بهتر است. اغلب بيماراني که هنگام معالجه با روحيهشان آشنا میشوم، اين باور منفي را در خود پرورش دادهاند اما گناه مسئلهها و دشواريها نيست. گناه احساس خودمان است که خيال میکنيم نمیتوانيم از پس مسايل و مردمیکه مسئله ساز هستند برآييم.

ارتباط کلامی و توانايي حل دشواريها تفاوت اصلي ميان بشريت و موجوداتي است که يا از بين رفتهاند يا نسل آنها در شرف انقراض و يا در نهايت تحت
Andy McKenzie
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: rationality_lit
I read this book because I think assertiveness and achieving your goals in the face of other's indifference and/or mild opposition is an important skill. Right off the bat, the first chapter of this book annoyed me, because I felt that there was a lot of speculation, especially about a) the causes of depression and b) the idea that childhood interaction patterns have an inordinately large effect on your adult life. Therefore, I practiced my assertive right to skip it -- and I recommend that you ...more
Robin Hansen
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A surprising and highly lucid take on assertivity. The author shows how all babies are born assertive, but that many of us unlearn this vital ability through upbringing and socialisation. He shows the vast and numerous problems that this causes. If you are among the many non-assertive people out there, it is essential to re-learn this ability and no longer feel guilty when you say "no".

The book contains a lot of transcripts of assertive dialogues. I found it a bit laborious to get through at tim
Mehrnaz Memar
I just picked up this book from our school library to see how I can be more assertive with my french tutor trying to impose his preconditioned ideas about teaching the language. Being a language teacher myself and having ideas on how to learn a language best,and on top of that knowing myself and my learning strategies;I need just a little more assertiveness to let him know that it should be me telling him how I learn best and not him telling me!

As I was looking at the date it was published I rea
East Bay J
Aug 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
When I Say No, I Feel Guilty is a clear, well written book about assertiveness training. My mom got this for me years ago and I carted it around with every intention of reading it. Having finally done so, I am really impressed with what Smith presents in these pages. He provides excellent descriptions of various aspects of assertiveness, explains how to adopt these methods and provides sample dialogues to show how to put these techniques into practice. Anyone facing difficulty in being assertive ...more
Marcia Johnston
Sep 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I thought I knew all about assertiveness. Then I read this book. What a world this would be if everyone had the skills that this book leaves you with. The examples make this a particularly useful and entertaining read. The principles have stayed with me and made a difference in all kinds of interactions. If you had to pick only one self-help book, this classic would be tough to beat.
Jalen Lyle-Holmes
Into it! Reading it I felt more equipment to deal with situations where I want something but don't feel confident standing up for it. I'm still unsure of where the line comes between applying these techniques to be assertive and being an asshole though.
Dec 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
More broad scope than the title would suggest, this book teaches communication skills everyone needs to learn. Properly employed, these skills allow you to be polite in society while at the same time being up front about your own needs.
K.R. Patterson
Dec 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
There were several of the author’s points that I didn’t agree with, and I started out really doubting this book altogether, but I actually ended up taking away some really good assertiveness skills from this book and I am super glad I read it.
Aishwarya Ghumekar
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
‘When I say no I feel guilty’ is one of the many self-help books which helps to understand how to get your own way by not feeling much guilty after saying the word no and eventually contradicts thetitle of the book by framing it to ‘When I say no, I don’t feel guilty!’The author of the book Manuel J.Smith was a psychologist and renowned author of many other self help books like this one and hiscatchy titles eventually would make you end up reading at least the summary of the book.
To summarize, t
Niamh Dempsey
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is really worth the read- actually I listened to it on Audible which I recommend because much of the learning is in the dialogues.
I loved the content, the verbal skills but most of all the irreverent personality of the author and his refreshing 70's lack of political correctness and hilarious delivery.

This book was much needed for me personally, and I have never come across this material before nor any references to systematic assertive therapy. It's no longer fashionable it seems, but boy
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome book!
My number one take away: fogging!

Definition of assertiveness:
To assert is to state positively with great confidence but with no objective proof - websters dictionary


1. I: You have the right to judge your own behavior, thoughts, and emotions, and to take the responsibility for their initiation and consequences upon yourself.
2. II: You have the right to offer no reasons or excuses for justifying your behavior.
3. III: You have the right to judge if you
Mohammad Ali Abedi
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
It’s a bit of an old book, 1975, but the information is relevant. I enjoy that the book was written by a psychologist who really knows what the hell he is talking about, rather than written by some business guru. It’s therefore a bit duller to read than contemporary, guru self-help books, but it’s not necessarily dry either, since the author tries to keep it as layman as possible.

The book first gives us a brief idea of how non-assertive came about in some of us (blame your parents) and then tell
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pažiūrėjus į knygos viršelį ir perskaičius pavadinimą atrodo, kad knyga bus eilinis savimotyvacinis šlamštas, ar ne? Nežinau, ką leidėjai turėtų daryti, kad nesudarytų klaidingo įspūdžio, bet šįkart tai visai rimta, ir kartu labai praktinė knyga, netgi sugebėjusi sukelti mini revoliuciją mano mąstyme. Neslėpsiu, nuolatinis kaltės jausmas yra nemenka mano problema, gal dėl to taip stipriai buvau paveikta ir duodu aukščiausius įvertinimus. Tiesiog man ši knyga buvo labai reikalinga ir naudinga.
Tarek Omran
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Best book thus far on the topic of being assertive...

I really love it when an author has found a universal framework that just works in all situations. Regardless of where you are and who you are dealing with. The universality of assertiveness simply works with humans *PERIOD*!

I like how the book starts by telling how you have the right to say no, to be wrong and not obliged to answer all questions.

One point that was a complete eye opener was how common manipulation is. Our parents, friends and
Welp. Another book for the 'reread every year' category (note to self: make a 'reread every year' category).

You have the right to be your own judge. Easy to say, not to easy to grok. When you truly believe you are your own judge, you don't feel the need to be defensive or justify your actions. Apparently. I have a lot of work to do before I get there.

When you give up the need to be perfect, you can agree with the criticism of others. The benefit of this is that it quickly takes the fight out of
Apr 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
Aggressive condescending macho style. Probably because it's outdated (though still continues through people like Jordan Peterson nowadays). There are good insights but there are also some dangerous bull, a pain to read. Not a kind of a book that makes you feel understood, comforted and enriched. As someone who is planning to be a psychologist some day, this type of relating to clients is a huge no-no for me. When you encounter such a psychologist, run.
Jun 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Helpful explanations of negative assertion, negative inquiry, and broken record techniques to use when you are being manipulated. A lot of the example dialogues are repetitive and tiresome after reading a few. Some of the tactics feel like they're the basis of 'pickup artist' techniques in the sense that the person using the techniques should not take no for an answer to what they want... which, confusingly, also feels manipulative?
Courtney Skelton
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book has a good core, underlying message that is mostly lost in a very thick almost unreadable content. The dialogue portions were much easier to read. I did learn some good things to try if/when I get in a place I have to defend my own stance. As far as the rest, very sluggish and felt like it was written by someone who found the subject as boring as I do.
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
It's ever so slightly dated, but a godsend for, well, I suspect more people than they'd be willing to admit. The problems and their techniques in this book are pretty ageless, actually. I think it would be a nice book to consider for just about anyone.
Jul 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: life-changing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Lots of examples. And who doesn't like examples?

Practical and unique techniques and information.
M Mandeel
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Love it,
well written book, gives assertive skills that can be applied immediately, It provides tools that help in real life without all the "be Charismatic" thingy's.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this many years ago and still remember the principles which I continue to use.
Chetan Desai
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Probably the best book I have ever read on assertiveness in terms of its practical applications.
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Paths to Wholeness: Assertiveness 1 9 Dec 30, 2016 06:59PM  
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  • Dealing with the CrazyMakers in Your Life: Setting Boundaries on Unhealthy Relationships
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  • Change Your Voice : Change Your Life : A Quick, Simple Plan for Finding & Using Your Natural Dynamic Voice
  • The Assertiveness Workbook: How to Express Your Ideas and Stand Up for Yourself at Work and in Relationships
  • Born To Win: Transactional Analysis With Gestalt Experiments
  • Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You
  • A Life of One's Own
  • Dealing with People You Can't Stand: How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst
  • My Mother/My Self: The Daughter's Search for Identity
  • The Mindful Path through Shyness: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Help Free You from Social Anxiety, Fear, and Avoidance
  • The Truth Will Set You Free: Overcoming Emotional Blindness and Finding Your True Adult Self
  • Receiving Love: Transform Your Relationship by Letting Yourself Be Loved
  • Boundaries and Relationships: Knowing, Protecting and Enjoying the Self
  • Love Is a Story: A New Theory of Relationships
  • Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings
  • The Survivor's Guide to Sex: How to Create Your Own Empowered Sexuality After Childhood Sexual Abuse
  • Lifeskills for Adult Children

I: You have the right to judge your own behavior, thoughts, and emotions, and to take the responsibility for their initiation and consequences upon yourself.

II: You have the right to offer no reasons or excuses for justifying your behavior.

III: You have the right to judge if you are responsible for finding solutions to other people’s problems.

IV: You have the right to change your mind.

V: You have the right to make mistakes—and be responsible for them.

VI: You have the right to say, “I don’t know.”

VII: You have the right to be independent of the goodwill of others before coping with them.

VIII: You have the right to be illogical in making decisions.

IX: You have the right to say, “I don’t understand.”

X: You have the right to say, “I don’t care.”

“Giving reasons during conflict to justify or defend a viewpoint is just as manipulative as giving reasons to attack that viewpoint. Neither of these routes is an honest assertive I want that can lead to a workable compromise of interests to quickly resolve the conflict.” 6 likes
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