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

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,807 ratings  ·  147 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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 ·  1,807 ratings  ·  147 reviews

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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
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
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
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.
Jonas Saul
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent Book! Loved it and it really helped me.
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
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book not at all what I expected. It covered some case studies of commercial transactions where being persistent and asserting your rights will result in improved results.

Most of the examples covered people simply repeating what they wanted broken record style. I don't think this is effective in many scenarios as things need to be escalated to management, external regulators or through legal action.

There was on example of a parent with irrational fears about the safety of his daughter when s
Jennifer James
Sep 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
At first, I was excited about this book. As a woman who often finds it difficult to assert herself, systematic assertiveness training seemed like a wonderful idea. While the assertiveness system was probably good, the examples were so crazy that I couldn't take the book seriously, and ended up looking to see when it had been written. When I saw 1975 as the publishing date, it suddenly made sense why all of the examples were horribly misogynistic. In one example, a man drops a cake on his wife's ...more
Pamela Fernandes
Jun 24, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is about assertive therapy. The book starts out great which deals with why we feel guilty about saying no, the issue rooted itself in childhood and the reasons why we become guilty. I understand the terms fogging, negative assertion, free information and negative inquiry. The book shows through many dialogues how to stick to your guns. While the author says we use this to deal with manipulative people, I find the techniques described in the book equally manipulative. Why can't NO just ...more
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended to me. It is incredibly dated. None of the coping mechanisms which the author describes teach you how to say "no" or its variants any easier. Instead, most of the coping mechanisms are variants on how to brush somebody off while looking like an ass in the process. The only coping mechanism mentioned which has any lasting value in the real world is "self-disclosure," which is exactly what it sounds like. The other mechanisms are primarily useful in commercial and profess ...more
Jan 14, 2017 rated it liked it
It's classic book but now it's very outdated. The principles are still solid but examples just reinforce some ways of nonproductive and manipulative communication.

I won't recommend reading it if you don't have at least basic understanding of principles of assertiveness, listening, and emotional intelligence. Only if you do, you would be able to sift through the valuable information.
Extremely helpful book. My therapist recommended it. It was by far the best recommendation she gave. I loved how practical and helpful it was. I'm actively looking to work on the skills that this book discussed.
I hope I find more like it!
إسلام جمال
May 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Good techniques to deal with manipulative persons and situations.
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
I read this book after Anna Salamon recommended it, because it aligned nicely with my current interest in assertiveness (what is it? is it good? should I do it and if so how?)

Overall it was 1) kind of boring and repetitive and 2) painfully 70s, but maybe had some good points?

I'm often skeptical when people talk about being assertive: I think I feel like it might lead to lots of trouble/conflict, and I don't feel sold on why it's important or necessary. I'm the kind of person who, if I go to a re
Jun 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
I can pretty wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone—awesome assertiveness training, very straightforward with simple techniques and very good practical examples. FOGGING alone is worth getting into it. This is basically the antidote to codependency and manipulation.

From an integral POV it's very much helping us claim "autonomy," Kegan's 4th order. Some is a little "green" in the healthiest iteration of that meaning-making pattern: that we're the judge of our own character, not someone else, not
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.
Marcia Van Camp
Aug 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: self-help-work
There are a lot of good things about this book, but you can skim it. The main point I think is that, you have to decide what is best for you and not feel bad if you don't want to do what others feel is important. I think the author in some ways acts like this won't have any consequences though...which is frustrating. I think if you are going to start saying no to things, you need to have a better way of helping others around you understand vs. feeling like, it's not important for them to underst ...more
Aug 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Like other reviewers have said, the author starts off strong with explaining the importance of learning assertiveness in all your relationships. He gives a large variety of examples for the different techniques used with parent-adult child relationships, workplace relationships, friendships, and romantic relationship. As you read through the book, you'll notice the biggest issue is that the author sometimes gives examples that aren't actually assertive--instead some of these examples are unfortu ...more
Erin Bodishbaugh
Feb 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
I'm only about halfway through this book, but it's already evoking some pretty strong feelings. It's a good book, and important for someone like me who has a real problem with being easily manipulated, but some of the communication techniques outlined in here -- fogging (parrotting criticism back at the critic), broken record ("asserting" the same request over and over to the point of sounding autistic), etc. -- are better suited for therapeutic role-playing sessions than everyday life. Dr. Smit ...more
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?
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.
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, 5-star
Can't recommend this enough. Fantastic book! I think the author here really hits on a lot of the core issues in dealing with guilt, confidence, assertiveness, and many other factors. From my experience in reading Feeling Good, this was like night and day. If you struggled with that book like I did, 100% check this one out instead!

I didn't get too far into this book before other priorities took over, but in general, I'd recommend a slow read through anyway. There are a lot of concepts to get thro
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
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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.” 7 likes
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