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on August 3, 2000
This is one of the best books I've read in a long, long time. Granted, I don't read books very often, but this is exactly why. There are a lot of books that are all hype and wind up not being as helpful as they seemed originally. This book is definitely an exception. It will effectively teach you how to cope with criticism, deal with manipulative people, and be more persistent in every day interactions so you can really get across what you want.
You should keep in mind that the goal here is not getting your way. The goal is to effectively communicate your needs directly. Some of the techniques are a bit harsh, and while they may work well on salespeople and customer service, you should not directly apply those to your spouse. But the book does have a section on coping with manipulation from a close relative, and how you need to soften your technique a bit, because so many more feelings are involved. Not only does the book teach you assertiveness, but it gives you the skills needed to help others become more assertive so they don't manipulate you as easily and as often as they would normally. This is particularly helpful with close relationships (siblings, spouse, parents, etc.).
If you feel you're being walked on or your needs aren't being met by the people around you, you need this book. Add it to your collection and you'll learn a lot about yourself and about people in general. I've already noticed subtle differences in me, and I feel a great deal more empowered than I used to be.
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on July 29, 2002
I am a psychologist working in a college counseling center, and this is the number one book on assertiveness that I recommend to my clients. Dr. Smith begins by describing "Your 10 Assertive Rights," a reminder that we all have a right do such human things as say "I don't know" and change our minds. He then introduces various assertiveness strategies one by one, starting with the very basic skill of persistence (AKA the "broken record" technique). For each strategy, Dr. Smith presents a short dialogue vignette to help you better understand how to apply that technique to real life. Once he has thoroughly taught all of the individual techniques, Dr. Smith puts them all together and addresses assertiveness in different types of situations--ie, with your family members versus with your boss. This is a great book for anyone who is tired of not being able to say "no" and ready to learn how to change their behavior.
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on September 7, 2011
As a therapist I frequently make use of bibliotherapy - lending or referring clients to books I think would be helpful. Whenever I direct a client to 'When I say no, I feel guilty' I invariably am told by them later what a great resource they found it to be. Its ideas, principles and strategies are timeless (although an updated version would be great ...hint, hint). It is empowering just to read, with many clients experiencing AHA moments or realizations that they've been operating under a bunch of other people's arbitrary rules that only benefits the other.

The Assertive Right that most find helpful is the one that says 'You have the right to offer no reasons or excuses for justifying your behaviour', particularly powerful for those brought up in critical environments.

This book was also of enormous benefit to me personally - and I've made tremendous use of the broken record (or would that be jammed CD now?) over my lifetime.

I hardly ever take the time to review books here but this is one I can heartily recommend.
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on August 27, 2002
This is a great book. This is not only for people who are not assertive, but also for people who get offended by criticism.
This will help you to have good freinds and great relationships. You might lose some manipulative ones but what is the fun in being manipulated.
Even though the book's title is very catchy, it should be renamed "Relationship Bible" because this helps you to be a straight shooter and no BS. This book also helps you develop integrity and honesty, because once you understand your assertive rights you dont need to lie to people.
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on December 26, 2001
While based on solid theory, this book teaches practical skills that you can use immediately. You'll find yourself comfortably using some techniques well before you even finish the book.
This book impressed me when I first read it 25 years ago. And it has stood the test of time: I felt amazed at how much more useful the techniques seemed when I reread it recently.
A couple of points deserve emphasis:
1. In addition to teaching you how to say "no" without feeling guilty, the author masterfully teaches you simple, powerful techniques for keeping your cool while you're under attack.
2. This book plays an important role in the set of cognitive, emotive, and behavioral skills taught by psychologists such as Albert Ellis and David Burns. While books such as "A New Guide to Rational Living" (Ellis) and "The Feeling Good Handbook" (Burns) contain tools that address a far wider range of problems, Smith's methods work far more rapidly, easily, and consistently for the challenges that this book addresses.
I strongly recommend this book for anyone wanting to quickly and easily learn to (i) say "no" without feeling guilty and/or (ii) react coolly to attacks by others.
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on October 28, 1999
Back in August 1979,the beginning of my senior year of high school,one of my brothers came to visit Mom and me.This brother is 9 years older than me,and he watched as most of the adults in my life slowly squeezed "me" out of me.I was the "perfect" young woman;cooked,cleaned,fetched, and carried for my older relatives.I dressed the way I was told(the way that they thought I should),behaved the way I was told(demure,and "ladylike"),and lived to their standards.If I ever behaved the way I really wanted to(free),the litany would start--"After all we've given up for you-how you hurt us...etc.".My brother saw through the guilt trip I was on,and when he brought me to live with him,he made me read'When I say NO,I feel guilty'.Well, no more!This book taught me that I can say"No thank you",and feel powerful because I am in control of my feelings and actions.Now, no one can 'make' me feel anything unless I want to! How free is that?!
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on June 8, 1996
"When I Say No, I Feel Guilty", by Manuel J. Smith, Ph.D.
offers many practical hints in developing your assertive skills
with friends, family, and business associates. In the broad
sense, this how-to will be particularly useful to those who
find it hard to stand up in the face of conflict; however,
some of these techniques ("fogging" and "broken record", for
instance) will not win you congeniality points. What they WILL
provide, though, are usable, self-affirming tactics with
which you can effectively deflect covert manipulation by others and
keep your defensive emotional responses in check.
Although reading this book will not give most readers the assertive confidence
and technique-rehearsal that attending Dr. Smith's Systematic Assertiveness workshops would
provide, it is still an excellent launch-pad for those of us
who are ready to take charge of our own lives.
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on October 6, 2000
I purchased this book in order to learn to quickly recognize criticism and manipulation. I was always getting very defensive or extremely angry at criticism. It was my hope to learn how to not allow the biting words of others affect me so greatly. I was always devastated when someone disapproved of me. It was always important to me that everyone's opinion of me had to agree with mine, or I had to convince them of my opinion.
While reading this book, I discovered that I was not always the one being criticised and manipulated. MY EXTREME DESIRED TO BE APPROVED OF MADE ME A CRITICISER AND MANIPULATOR ALSO. This huge character flaw of mine could explain why I have not been able to have a successful love relationship. This was truly an eye opening book for me. Thank you Mr. Manuel J. Smith.
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on November 5, 1998
I have read many books on human behavior, understanding manipulation, and even spent time in counseling to discover that I was passive. Well after going over the problem in counseling, I kept asking "ok, what is the solution?" Well, it seemed that we spent more time on the problem than on the solution. In fact I am not sure they had a solution. I started to read this book a few years ago and couldn't imagine that you do not have to give a reason or excuse for returning merchandise. I have applied the lessons in the book and have felt great! The broken record is working effectively for me - a solution! A method that works. I am practicing daily and recommend this book to anyone that has a difficult time saying "no". The key is to not just read it, do it.
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on May 10, 2001
...and watch out for those side effects. First of all, this book is not what it claims. Assertiveness Training is not used here as it is in behavior therapy. The father of behavior therapy is/was Joseph Wolpe. To Wolpe, relaxation inhibits fear. Anger and intimacy inhibit social fear. But Wolpe stated that these books were not operating within this framework. Assertiveness training, according to Wolpe, was based on anger and intimacy in order to inhibit social anxiety. Not a textbook on manipulation and aggression. The only Assertiveness training book that Wolpe approved of and liked was "Your Perfect Right" by Alberti and Emmons (yes, you can order a copy from Alberti and Emmons also condemned this book for being highly manipulative. And it is!
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