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by Jana Kemp

AMACOM © 2005, 226 pages, $12.95 (ISBN 0-8144-7230-3).

How One Simple Word Can Transform Your Life

First-term Representative in the Idaho Legislature Jana Kemp is more than a decision-making politico: She is also the owner of a company, Meeting & Management Essentials, which helps people and organizations improve their time management and meeting skills. In No!, Kemp ponders the ramifications of decisions and their results, and shows readers how they can get over the fear of saying “No” and take control of any situation without negative consequences.

Helping people break through the wall of indecision, Kemp presents the word no as a personal power tool: one that can be used to protect your time, money, children, well-being and life. She also offers a number of phrases and questions that can be used whenever no is the right thing to say, and explains when a no should not be negotiated to a yes.

‘Stick to Your Answers’

According to Kemp, the key to getting more of what you want is to “say yes when you mean it, no when you mean it, and then to stick to your answers so that others don’t second-guess you or renegotiate your every answer.”

Kemp begins her book with a “Power of No Self-Assessment” that helps readers discover which of the following messages they tend to rely on: no-never, mostly maybe or usually yes. This self-assessment tool shows readers whether they are a “Master of No,” a “Waffler” or a “Yes-ism person.” Once readers know what they are, Kemp shows them how to maximize their ability to say no appropriately and how to know when other people are trying to tell them no and don’t know how.

Kemp describes a Master of No as a person who is direct and comfortable with saying no, without hesitation, waffling or apology. This person takes ownership of his or her choice and response while remaining gracious in word choice and message delivery. He or she knows when and how to say yes and to say no. By being clear, direct and decisive, there is never a question about whether he or she really meant no.

Kemp explains that even a Master of No can be more effective by considering carefully the speed of his or her delivery, the tone of his or her voice, and the words that are used to say no. She writes that the key is to say no clearly and concisely without sounding critical, mean or rude. Masters of No need to remember to be patient with others who have not mastered the art of saying no, and should remember to use tact, grace and elegance when saying no.

Next, Kemp describes her “Power of No Model,” which is spelled out in the acronym POWER: purpose, options/resources, when, emotional ties, and rights and responsibilities. She writes that these “five decision-points include subsets of questions, conversations and agreements that will lead you to say yes and to say no when it is most fitting.” These subsets, she explains, will help you protect yourself and others as you determine whether you’ll say yes or no.

To get the most of her Power of No Model, she writes that you must first consider the purpose of the request. This entails finding out what is needed or wanted, why it is wanted and how it relates to the goals to be accomplished. Is it safe or dangerous? What options and resources are available to you? Kemp points out that asking whether someone else can take on the assignment or what other ways the task can be completed can help determine what options and resources can be used. If the options and resources available don’t allow for a successful result, say no now. If they are available, move on to the “When” part of the model.

Establish a Clear Deadline

A when statement establishes a clear deadline for the request. If the deadline is not clear and realistic, the answer should be no. If it is clear and realistic, Kemp writes that it is time to determine your personal ties to the outcome of the decision. Consider how you feel about what you want to do or accomplish, and if you feel good about a positive response, consider what your rights and responsibilities are. What will happen to your current and future opportunities if you say no? What responsibilities will you be accountable for? Ask for clarification of what you can expect.

Kemp explains that by being clear on these logical and emotional elements of a decision, you will have a firm foundation on which to base your agreements to a request. Throughout the rest of No!, she describes numerous examples from real life of times when a decision needed to be made and how the proper choices were determined. She also offers specific questions that can be asked to overcome the problems that arise when waffling rears its indecisive head.~

Why We Like This Book

No! offers readers a concise view of decision making and provides valuable insights into the choices everyone makes. By providing a straightforward framework on which people can base their decisions and the words they can use to make those decisions clear to others, Kemp supplies readers with useful tools with which they can improve their lives and careers. ~

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