Release year: 2019

Author: Abbie Headon

Link to my handwritten notes

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Being negative and saying no are two very different things. Every time we say no, we say yes to something else, and vice versa. By saying no, we assert our independence and allow ourselves to live our life. The question is, how does “no” work?

This is a very short book, which I finished in roughly 2 days of casual reading. It goes right to the point: why we tend to say no too often, what we ought to say no to, and how to say it. My favorite section came at the very end, where 7 “no” situations are provided. The reader is asked to come up with their own reason for saying no, as well as the technique they will use to deliver that no effectively.

This was a powerful exercise where I could identify some of my own weaknesses, such as saying no to my boss(es) and my partner. With genius being the ability to distinguish strengths from weaknesses, I feel that learning how to embrace “no” will paradoxically lead me towards a richer and more meaningful life.

Now let’s see… Is there anything else I’d like to add to this review? No! 😄

Félix rating:

⭐ Star quotes

  1. (p. 12) Saying no and being negative are two very different things:
    • Negativity is a passive and enduring state.
    • ‘No’ is an active choice in a specific moment. We have weighed up our options and decided that another course of action is right for us.
  2. (p. 25) When making a big decision, look at it in terms of:
    • Internal factors:
      • Strengths
      • Weaknesses
    • External factors:
      • Opportunities
      • Threats
  3. (p. 28) Finding it hard to say no can be part of a broader hesitancy about expressing the full range of our emotions with honesty and openness.
  4. (p. 32) If someone tells you to sacrifice your opinion in favor of general harmony, their own motivation is unlikely to be very positive.
  5. (p. 43) Once you get used to setting boundaries, the people you spend time with will learn that you really mean what you say.
  6. (p. 49) If you have a sinking feeling (e.g. about a job) and you know it’s not just a blip, saying no to the status quo is essential for your happiness, even if it upsets the people around you at the time.
  7. (p. 54) Limit your commitment by saying something like “I can help at the BBQ, but I have to leave at 8 PM.” This shows you want to help, but your availability is limited.
  8. (p. 54) You don’t need to reel off a list of excuses when you say no – and in fact, the more reasons you give, the less convincing you are likely to sound.
  9. (p. 61) If you don’t want to say yes, you don’t have to.
  10. (p. 61) By avoiding “sorry” or “I can’t”, you’ll show that you won’t be talked out of your “no”.
  11. (p. 65) It’s precisely when you’re under pressure that self-care is most important.
  12. (p. 65) When you’re under pressure, focus on what must be done, and say no to tasks others can handle. Once you start letting go, you’ll be amazed at how many tasks fall into this category.
  13. (p. 72) You are not responsible for other people’s choices.
  14. (p. 107) If you’re given a big project, break it into manageable chunks. Not only is each smaller task easier to get done, but you may also be able to delegate them, and track progress without constantly having to look at the entire project as a whole.
  15. (p. 107) If your manager tries to give you extra work when you’re already at full capacity, use questions such as “I won’t have time to finish my current jobs if I take this on as well: which one are you happy to wait longer for?” Your manager is then obliged to take responsibility for the changed workload.
  16. (p. 128) Putting yourself first by using “I…” statements is really helpful in difficult conversations. E.g:
    • “I felt embarrassed when you laughed at me in front of the others.”
    • ^ that is more constructive and less likely to provoke a defensive reaction than:
    • “You embarrassed me in front of the others.”
  17. (p. 139) A good friendship is one where you trust each other, where being together lifts you both up.
  18. (p. 139) A toxic friendship is one where you feel worse when you’re together.
  19. (p. 148) When you say yes to others, make sure you are not saying no to yourself.