Assertive communication is not only a matter of asking clearly for what we want — it also involves stating firmly what we do not want. Most of this chapter is devoted to refusing requests, rather than making them. People nearly always bring at least one example of saying ‘No’ to role-play in any group. ‘No’ is such a simple word, yet it can prove so difficult to say. Considering that it is one of the first words we learn to speak as children, it is clearly not a case of practice making perfect’!

Carol told the group that she felt something of a fraud in coming to the workshop as she was already able to be assertive in many situations. However her one stumbling-block was saying ‘No’ to people. Each time she tried it, she felt great pangs of anxiety and guilt.