DO YOU FEEL GUILTY WHEN YOU SAY NO?
BY MARIAN NEMESKY
Women’s Lib, Betty Friedan
and Gloria Steinem were all at the
forefront of the feminist movement.
It should have targeted me, too; col-lege-
educated, married with family,
and stay-at-home mom. However,
I felt it had no bearing on my life.
Then, in 1975, our book club selec-tion
was, “When I say No, I Feel
Guilty,” by Manuel Smith. I haven’t
been the same since.
It was billed as a bestseller in
Assertiveness Training. Did I really
need that? I didn’t think so, but
always read our book club selection
from cover to cover. I dove in, and
much to my surprise, swallowed
It conjured up a memory of hav-ing
a new granite kitchen counter
installed in our home. When the
task was completed, there was a
chunk missing, right in the front. I
paid the bill, but complained.
“Oh, I’ll send someone to fix it
with some putty. You’ll never even
Guess what? For the next fifteen
years, that missing chunk was an
eyesore and I ALWAYS noticed it.
After reading this book, I vowed
to never again allow anything like
After taking voluminous notes
and memorizing them, I thought I
might be ready. The two “Assertive
Rights” that struck home were:
Always ask to speak to a supervisor,
and repeat your request, politely,
I was ready to do battle. The first
opportunity presented itself in the
form of a two-piece sectional couch
that I had ordered. I loved the style,
but chose the material, beige suede,
from a 2x0 swatch, which I wasn’t
even allowed to take home.
When the couch was delivered,
I saw immediately that it was all
wrong. The front and back mate-rial
didn’t match the pillows. The
pillows, in turn, didn’t even match
each other. It felt rough and bumpy
instead of soft and silky.
“Here, sign this receipt,” the deliv-ery
man said, grumpily.
“No, I can’t.”
“Call the store.”
So, I called the salesman who
sold the couch to me. He basical-ly
said that since I had seen the
swatch, I knew what I was getting,
and tough luck.
I went into action.
“Let me speak to your supervisor,
After some hemming and hawing,
I finally spoke to the manager of
the store, who basically said the
And I said the same thing. “Let
me speak to your supervisor,
This kept going on until, believe
it or not, I was speaking to the
president of the company that
manufactured the couch. He was
“Tell the men to order you a new
couch in whatever color and mate-rial
Sure enough, three weeks later,
I had a new white couch, every-thing
matched, and they gave me
two extra throw pillows, for all my
Now, 46 years later, I have used
and modified this technique with
salesmen, doctors, service providers
and many others. When I returned
to the workplace as a teacher, I
used it with unruly students, col-leagues,
and even administrators.
The results were always satisfying.
In fact, at this point, I think I
could write a sequel, “When I
Say No, I Don’t Ever Feel Guilty
IT’S TIME FOR
A MAYOR WHO CAN
TACKL E OUR
VOTE TUESDAY NOVEMBER 2ND!
30 NORTH SHORE TOWERS COURIER ¢ October 2021