Summary of 201 Ways to Say No Gracefully and Effectively

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201 Ways to Say No Gracefully and Effectively book summary
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  • Applicable
  • Concrete Examples
  • For Beginners


Authors Alan Axelrod and Jim Holtje have compiled 201 ways to say "no" in different situations and to different types of people - colleagues and co-workers, salespeople, clients and customers, your boss, your subordinates, and job seekers. You can say "no" to extra work, nuisance tasks, unreasonable demands, bad ideas, and misguided sales pitches. The book offers some good ideas, although its approach is scatter-shot and somewhat superficial. Most of the ideas are based on common sense approaches to turning people down, such as suggesting alternatives, providing explanations, being diplomatic, and being firm if that’s appropriate. You may have to be patient to ferret out the ideas that apply to your needs, but they’re in here somewhere. getAbstract recommends this book to junior employees, who are most likely to want to say "no," and to those who feel imposed upon because they can’t say no.

About the Authors

Alan Axelrod has produced a wide range of popular business and communication books. Jim Holtje is the Director of International Client services for a Washington, D.C. corporate communications and public relations management-consulting firm.



Some Basic Principles of Saying "No"

If you really mean "no," don’t say "yes." You can say "no" a number of ways, including helping others see your point of view. "One of the most effective ways to get ’them’ to see things your way is to make an effort to see things their way. Instead of saying ’no,’ compromise and negotiate a favorable solution."

Some basic ways to say "no" are:

  • If you feel uncomfortable saying "no" and tend to say "yes" when you mean "no," take a deep breath and pause for a few seconds to interrupt your usual "yes" response. That makes it easier to say the "no" you want to say.
  • A good way to say "no" is to divide it into three parts. First, briefly restate the request someone has made to show you acknowledge and understand it. Second, quickly and politely say "no." Third, show your appreciation to the person for having made the request.
  • Don’t say "no" to the individual. Instead, say "no" to the request the person has made.
  • Look at your "no" from the perspective of the other person’s self-interest, and then try to convince him that your "no" is the best response for him, and not just ...

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