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My Answer is No . . . If That's Okay with You: How Women Can Say No with Confidence

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My Answer is No . . . If That's Okay with You: How Women Can Say No with Confidence [Paperback]

Nanette Gartrell M.D.
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 6, 2009
  • Are you afraid you'll hurt the people you care about if you say NO to them?
  • Can you set limits when employees neglect their responsibilities? How about with your boss?
  • When friends ask you to do something you don't want to do, do you invent an elaborate excuse?
  • Do you have a hard time saying NO to an invitation even when you're completely exhausted?
  • Do you have trouble even practicing the sentence "No, Mom, I just can't make it home this holiday"?

If any of these scenarios sound familiar, keep reading - you need this book...

No is a very simple word -- two letters, one syllable. Yet many women have a hard time saying it without feeling anxious or guilty. In My Answer Is NO...If That's Okay with You, award-winning psychiatrist and author Dr. Nanette Gartrell takes a fresh look at why even the most powerful, accomplished, and successful women find it difficult to say no and offers a revolutionary approach to setting limits without jeopardizing important relationships.

Today women are bombarded with messages like "put yourself first" and "stop being a people-pleaser." But this sort of advice is useless to women who value the caring and generosity that prompt them to say yes in the first place. Through personal interviews with a diverse group of talented women, including CEOs, celebrities, physicians, and public officials, Dr. Gartrell shows that women's reluctance to say no stems from valuable traits that they should embrace, such as empathy, sensitivity, and thoughtfulness. With humor and wisdom, Dr. Gartrell reaffirms the psychological importance of compassion and feeling connected, which can often lead a woman to say yes rather than no in order to preserve a relationship or spare someone's feelings. Through entertaining anecdotes and insights from her years of clinical practice, Dr. Gartrell teaches women to honor their best instincts while still maintaining boundaries. My Answer Is NO...If That's Okay with You offers creative, practical ways to transform an automatic or reluctant yes into a healthy, respectful no -- and still feel good about it.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gartrell's new book gives women important, practical tools for saying "No" gracefully and without guilt. Women are especially bad at saying "No," Gartrell writes, because of "our deeply rooted need for connection": an old struggle between being considerate and being assertive that often leads to overcommitment, which in turn can cause exhaustion and, in some cases, a long-lived abusive relationship. Taking one relationship group at a time, Gartrell covers the basics (parents, dates and mates, friends and work) before moving on to more tricky, emotionally treacherous territory like assault and harassment, doctors and psychologists, and the dying. Including excellent tools and work management advice for women in the military, Gartrell's guide is more about sticking up for oneself, and putting a stop to abusive situations, than freeing up more "me time" for overcommitted women. As such, much of the advice here will help anyone with a problem saying "No," man or woman.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Dr. Gartrell provides you with practical tools and tips for saying no with confidence and grace." -- Lois P. Frankel, PhD, author of Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office

"Women need to maintain healthy boundaries while also preserving life-giving relationships. Dr. Gartrell tells you exactly how to do just that. This information is essential for all women." -- Christiane Northrup, MD, author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom and The Wisdom of Menopause

"NO...So it's only two letters, but that tiny word can make the difference between a small raise and the corner office. The dirty little secret is that when it comes to the workplace you don't have to do everything that is asked of you in order to succeed. In fact, setting realistic expectations for yourself and for the people around you is often the key to professional happiness. My Answer Is NO teaches all of us how to set boundaries and reclaim our self-respect by employing that tiny yet potentially life-changing word." -- Caitlin Friedman, coauthor of The Girl's Guide to Kicking Your Career into Gear and The Girl's Guide to Being a Boss (Without Being a Bitch)

"This book is like having a great therapist at your side -- smart and compassionate with on-the-spot advice on how to set limits in all aspects of your life. Give this book to your daughters as they negotiate their way through school, friendships, and first jobs." -- Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees & Wannabes and Queenbee Moms & Kingpin Dads

"Sound advice and fascinating insights on why we have trouble setting limits as women. Dr. Gartrell shows us that even the most accomplished women in a countless variety of careers are challenged by saying no, and that they, like the rest of us, can learn to do it with conviction and joy." -- Patti Breitman, coauthor of How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Reprint edition (January 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416546952
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416546955
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,007,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can't say no to this book January 26, 2008
"No" is one of the best self-help books I've read in quite awhile. I would recommend the book to male friends if it weren't so obviously targeted to women.

Most people would consider me above-average assertive, but I found many ideas immensely helpful. For example, I believe many of us could relate to the challenge of saying no to friends. We've all participated in stale rituals and over the years I've said "yes" to invitations I later regretted.

Perhaps the best part of this book is the section on saying no to one's doctor or therapist (you could apply the same principles to saying no to one's coach or marketing mentor, too).

I would go even further and say, "Even if you've signed up for a multi-session program, insist on leaving as soon as you stop gaining benefits."

The book's general approach is stronger than particular suggestions. Indeed, some specific suggestions seem questionable. For instance, we get a brilliant section on dealing with parents who are narcissistic or borderline. I like the idea to keep a list of standard responses nearby - but "I am sorry you feel this way" (p. 14) comes across as insulting even if you're not a narcissist.

At times, the author seems optimistic beyond what's realistic. I think readers will encounter more resistance than the book anticipates, especially when dealing with family. Sometimes people have to choose between maintaining a relationship -- even a barely civil one -- and maintaining one's sanity. At times, divorcing the family will be the most appropriate action.

The section on caregiving has some good points -- e.g., take time for yourself -- but I wonder why the care receiver's "no" options are not mentioned. And the difficulties of bringing a family together can be insurmountable.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars refreshing approach to tough problem January 16, 2008
Like most of my female friends, I agonize when I have to refuse a request. Because I feel so guilty, I usually agree to do things that I don't want to do. At the same time, I resist one-size-fits-all JUST SAY NO solutions to my excessive compliance. What stands out about this book is that it is full of examples that fill in the middle ground between extreme acquiescence and absolutist NO's. There is no RIGHT WAY to say no. What a relief to find that the high-profile women interviewed by the author squirm and equivocate just as much as I do. I also love the gazillion examples of soft, relationship-sensitive NO's the author provides. This is a great book for anyone in search of nuanced solutions to social problems.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immediately Applicable January 20, 2008
As is typical of many women, saying no is something that I just cannot seem to do routinely. It has caused me more problems than my past problems with alcohol. Sober 22 years, I still have a tough time saying the simple word "no." Dr. Gartrell's book is practical and clear. That is what I need. I immediately put it into practice. I am a very fast reader and work in a tough business. The book works for me. I needed help in a fast and sure way. Yes, I appreciate the quotes from women that are very important in the world, yet I equally appreciate the examples from women who are working day-to-day to be stronger, more confident and better at what they do. This book is mandatory, and I rarely hand out compliments. I am a tough sell, and this book should not be. It should fly off the shelves to assist us all. Kimberly Allen Austin, TexasMy Answer is No . . . If That's Okay with You: How Women Can Say No and (Still) Feel Good About It
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Fabulous! January 15, 2008
This is a cool book and every teenage girl should read it in order to be able to say no. All my friends are reading it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book! January 27, 2008
As a psychologist, I think that Dr. Gartrell has done an impressive job of writing a book that has equal applicability to readers who are mental health professionals, readers who have never delved into psychology at all, and anyone else in between. No mean feat! It's an overall good read, and some sections are very poignant, others very funny. I think this book will do a lot of good for a wide variety of readers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm not so wimpy afterall January 19, 2008
For years (all of my adult life) I've thought my difficulty saying "NO" was a serious psychological flaw of character. Everyone else-- or so it seemed to me-- was establishing strong, tidy boundaries about personal responsibilities. No one seemed to have the same serious problem I do, i.e., saying "NO" when my own interests are overlooked and completely screwed. Now here is Danielle Steele telling me she has the same problem! HELLO!
The best part of the book is that Dr. Gartrell tells me it's because I CARE about personal relationships that I do this. In other words, my sensitivity and fear of losing close relationships if I say "NO" is NOT a bad thing, but a problem scores of women(and men?) deal with. DUH! It's because we care! So good.
And she gives me so many tips about how, exactly, to say "NO" in many situations and relationships.
I can't recommend this book highly enough. Please buy it for your friends and family. Lord knows we know who needs it!!!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ! January 8, 2008
Well, I finished reading the book and I cried. The book touched me on many levels. I was raised in a very dysfunctional household - I think my mother invented the word dysfunctional! That's a great part of why the book is so important to women like me. At large, Chapters 3, 6, 8 and 9 spoke directly to me - out loud! Great book! A must read and learn!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Book!
Always was being asked to serve on committees or as an officer of an organization. Carried the book with me and held it up for my response. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Granny Joy
3.0 out of 5 stars Bad case of gender bias, but.....
Dr. Gartrell's interviews represent a demographic we also work with where the inability to say no, assertively, is often a presenting problem. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Edder
2.0 out of 5 stars This book is Okay.
It gives a lot of examples and then explains the best way to handle them. It is probably good, but the examples don't apply directly to me, and I'm unable to expand the examples... Read more
Published 18 months ago by L. Straathof
4.0 out of 5 stars Say NO, stay true to yourself
I have been helping my parents for over a decade with negotiations, transportation, bill paying,emergency trips to the hospital,and it can be exhausting! Read more
Published 20 months ago by C. Wall
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful for the holidays
Best book I have ever read with information on how to say "no. " Everyone who finds this challenging during the holidays and every day should read it.
Published on December 25, 2011 by Annabelle Levy
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
I was disappointed in this book. It did not go into great detail. Was bored after reading the 4th chapter. Read more
Published on October 13, 2011 by Irish Gal
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Helpful
Like most women, I have trouble saying no at times (depends on the area in my life). The book addresses multiple areas in a woman's life where she might have trouble with saying... Read more
Published on February 16, 2010 by Amazon Customer
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