When I Say No I Feel Guilty Summary


“When I Say No I Feel Guilty” is a self-help book Manuel J. Smith that explores the concept of assertiveness and the challenges individuals face when expressing their needs and setting boundaries. The book provides practical strategies and techniques to overcome the fear of rejection, guilt, and anxiety that often accompany saying no.

The author begins highlighting the importance of assertiveness in maintaining healthy relationships and personal well-being. He emphasizes that individuals have the right to prioritize their needs and set boundaries without feeling guilty or selfish. Smith explains that assertiveness involves expressing oneself honestly, respecting others’ rights, and finding a balance between passivity and aggression.

Throughout the book, Smith delves into various scenarios and provides step--step techniques to effectively say no while maintaining positive relationships. He explores the four different types of responses people typically exhibit: passivity, aggression, passive-aggression, and assertiveness. By identifying these responses, readers can understand their own behavioral patterns and work towards developing assertiveness skills.

The author also addresses the underlying beliefs and emotions that often hinder assertive behavior. He explores the fear of rejection, the need for approval, and the desire to avoid conflict, offering practical exercises and strategies to overcome these barriers. Smith introduces the “broken record” technique, which involves calmly and persistently repeating one’s stance, as a powerful tool in asserting oneself.

Additionally, Smith discusses the impact of external factors such as societal norms, cultural influences, and gender roles on assertiveness. He offers insights into how these factors shape our behaviors and provides guidance on navigating these challenges.

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The book concludes emphasizing the importance of self-acceptance and self-esteem in developing assertiveness. Smith encourages readers to practice self-care, self-compassion, and positive self-talk to build confidence and overcome the fear of saying no.


1. Why is it difficult to say no?
Saying no can be challenging due to the fear of rejection, guilt, and the desire to please others. Many individuals fear damaging relationships or being perceived as selfish.

2. How can I overcome guilt when saying no?
To overcome guilt, it is important to recognize that setting boundaries and prioritizing your needs is essential for your well-being. Practice self-compassion and remind yourself that saying no is not inherently selfish.

3. What are some practical techniques to say no assertively?
The “broken record” technique, where you calmly and persistently repeat your stance, is an effective way to assert yourself. Additionally, using “I” statements to express your feelings and needs can help you communicate assertively.

4. How can cultural influences impact assertiveness?
Cultural norms and expectations can vary greatly, influencing how individuals perceive and express assertiveness. It is important to understand and navigate these influences while maintaining authenticity.

5. Can assertiveness be learned?
Yes, assertiveness is a skill that can be learned and practiced. By understanding your own behavioral patterns, challenging limiting beliefs, and utilizing assertiveness techniques, you can develop your assertiveness.

6. How can assertiveness improve relationships?
Assertiveness promotes open and honest communication, fostering respect and understanding in relationships. It allows individuals to express their needs and boundaries, leading to healthier and more fulfilling connections.

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7. Is assertiveness always the best approach?
While assertiveness is generally beneficial, there may be situations where a different approach is more appropriate. It is important to consider the context and individual circumstances when determining the best course of action.

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