Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Rediscovering The Power of The Word, “No!”, with Irina Avtsin

About a month after this interview, Irina returned to talk about her other book, Friends, Enemies, and Everyone In Between.
I want to give a respectful welcome to Irina and thank her for choosing this blog as a stop on her BlogTour. On to our interview…

Irina, I think a good first question is where are you from and what are some of the highlights of what brought you to write your book, Rediscovering The Power of No?

I was born and raised in Moscow, Russia and, being an admittedly brave teenager (or just a teenager :-) immigrated to Israel on my own, arriving there on the second day of the first Gulf War. I got my gas mask and an Israeli passport at the airport. That was my welcome to the country.
I worked my way through getting a BSc in Computer science from Technion, the Israeli analog of MIT. I came to the US in 1999 and soon started working on Wall Street – first at Merrill Lynch and then at Citigroup. I graduated from Columbia Business School in 2007. I worked at Credit Suisse Private banking before starting my own Personal Confidantency, which I then  expanded into “Let’s do a reality check!” and “MBA Confidante”.

I think my experience in all of that is what brought me to write the book.

Would you share a few personal interests and abilities with us?

I like Yoga, Pilates and I hope to learn to play golf some day.
I appreciate good food, nice wine and well written books.
And, I’m fluent in Russian, Hebrew, and English and speak some French.

Thanks for that personal touch :-)

So, your book says that saying “Yes” can be harmful. Would you explain that?

“Yesomania” is a term I use to describe the chronic and widespread desire to please other people and always say “Yes”, often times compromising one’s own health, money or relationships.
My book helps you take the first step towards having more control over your life. Beginning to take a closer look at how saying yes to everything affects you and what the price you pay for it is. This will help you see where you need to change then take the steps towards making your life easier and less anxiety prone.

O.K., let’s get just a bit of your advice from the book right here. How about in career matters?

It’s hard to say ‘No’ to your boss. However few people realize that if you are the one who always says “Yes” you will be given all those tasks that others said “No” to – and for a good reason. Your raises and promotions will likely get postponed, since there is no reason to make sure that you are happy with your job. You will say “yes” anyway.

What about personal relationships?

When you always say “Yes” to others’ requests and suggestions you are not allowing other people to really get to know you. All they know is that you are someone with no preferences, who always says “Yes”. While it might feel that you are always surrounded by people who could help, you could find yourself alone in a moment of need.  You could also suddenly realize you won’t be able to accommodate everybody. It often happens to those affected by Yesomania that accommodation might be the only thing people came to them for. Once “Yes” is not on the menu they will disappear and you will see the friends who stay with you and can help in times of need.


Your finances are bound to suffer if you can’t say “No” to a small loan, going out to a restaurant that’s too expensive, or buying something you don’t need because you can’t refuse a salesperson. Do a quick calculation – how much did it cost you over the last month?

How about health and stress?

If you can not say ‘No’ to your boss’ request to stay for a few hours longer and skip the gym as a result, you might start piling up those pounds that are so hard to lose later on. When you are on a diet and say “Yes” to a friend’s dessert, your waist line is likely to suffer.
Also, When you are spread too thin you’re stressed. Period. You do not have the time to evaluate your priorities and that in itself leads to additional stress.

Irina, thanks, so much, for that peek into the kind of help you offer in your book!

I should add that, even if a particular reader of your blog doesn’t have the problems that come with Yesomania, the book would make a great gift (for under $5) for any push-overs in their life!

Absolutely, Irina!! Thanks, again, for stopping off on your BlogTour and I’m sure your book could help many of our readers :-)
Feel free to ask Irina a question in our Comments
Listen to Irina’s audio interview at TheGCafe

Buy her book on Amazon

BTW, there are free Kindle applications available for PC, iPhone, etc.
Our Comment Link Is At The Top of The Post :-)
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15 responses to “Rediscovering The Power of The Word, “No!”, with Irina Avtsin

  1. Jane Watson February 28, 2011 at 1:51 am

    This is such a fascinating interview! I can’t wait to get hold of Irina’s book. I especially liked her comment: ‘When you always say “Yes” to others’ requests and suggestions you are not allowing other people to really get to know you.’

    That is such an interesting take on saying ‘yes’ – that it is actually a form of denial of your true self and creates a barrier between you and the people who genuinally want to know you!


    • Irina Avtsin February 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm

      Thank you, Jane. I feel that a lot of times our need to be accepted by others actually does play a trick on us.. and the others, making them to accept a less genuine version of us.


  2. Karla Telega February 28, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I was taught that saying yes would get people to like you. It’s amazing how hard it is to try to unlearn that basic concept. I just said yes to a great big project, but I did it because it will be a great learning experience for me. It will give me a chance to work with someone who knows the ins and outs of self publishing. The time I put in will pay off big time in experience and exposure. It also gives me the opportunity to practice saying no to other ventures while I’m working on this.


    • Irina Avtsin February 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm

      Thank you, Karla. I think ITAI from my book might be someone you’d enjoy meeting :). Here is what he is all about:

      Good luck with the project and learning to say “NO” when appropriate


  3. cmmarcum February 28, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    This is an undeniable truth, but it is still hard to put it into practice. Perhaps, I should buy the book.

    Every job that I have ever had I always wanted to do a good job, so good that there would be no need to supervise me. You know, just a little above and beyond. But instead of what I wanted I always got more work, until it led to completed dissatisfaction at the workplace, particularly when I was working my buns off and my counterparts where just cruising. Needless to say, the cruisers who knew how to say NO are still there and I am not. And, most surprising of all, the business is still standing without me. Whahah!


    • Irina Avtsin February 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm

      Thank you for your comment. I am sorry about your job situation and hope my book helps you to take the first step to improve it.


  4. Catana February 28, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    As someone whose first inclination is usually to say “no,” it often boggles my mind that there are people who just don’t know how to say it, even when it would be to their benefit. So I’m not a customer for your book (don’t even know any pushovers who might need it), but I hope you do well with it.


    • Irina Avtsin February 28, 2011 at 8:09 pm

      Thank you, Catana. People like yourself are an inspiration for those who are still learning, or just starting to learn to say “No”. What comes naturally to some requires work from others ( don’t we all know those annoyingly skinny folks, who can eat all they want day in and day out and … just stay skinny ? ~:).
      My book helps those who need to do some work, before they can say those “No”s (shed those pounds :).

      What really intrigues me though is that you do not know anybody who has difficulties saying no… Usually there are at least one or two people like this in the office, who end up with the most work. Or one or two folks in the group who end up staying out too long (or turning in before their bed time) to keep up with the rest of the group…


      • Catana February 28, 2011 at 8:28 pm

        Irina, I’ve known people like that in the past, but I don’t work, I live alone, and hardly socialize at all, so my life is blessedly free of them. That sounds cruel, I’m sure. But when someone I knew behaved that way, I cringed inside for them. What made it worse was that I knew better than to try to give their backbones a gentle poke. Something less personal, like a book, is probably more helpful.


        • Irina Avtsin February 28, 2011 at 8:51 pm

          Thank you,Catana. I understand it now.
          It could be very difficult indeed to get people to see what they do not want to see (and who wants to see their inability to say “No”?). I face it a lot in my practice as a confidante. Then the desire to help those who might not have access to a confidante became an inspiration for my book.
          I am glad you find that the book might be of help for some.


  5. Darcia Helle February 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Irina, I can’t imagine being handed a gas mask upon entering a new country! That must have been a terrifying time.

    I know someone who definitely needs to read your book. She never says no, then frequently complains to me about how exhausted she is from going out when she really wanted to stay home or how she had to endure a miserable evening because she did what everyone else wanted and not what she wanted. I’ll be wrapping your book up as a birthday gift!


    • Irina Avtsin February 28, 2011 at 8:16 pm

      Thank you, Darcia!
      I was a teenager back then, and teenagers don’t get terrified too easily :). I saw the gas mask as sign of the country preparedness for the disaster. To me at was a positive change, coming from Russia, where, if similar situation would have arose , there would have been a sever shortage of gas masks… And I am only half joking, so both :( and :).

      Hope the person you are getting my book loves it and finds it helpful.

      Thank you for your interest and support!


  6. Simone Benedict March 1, 2011 at 3:00 am

    I know people who need to learn to say “no.” As one of those annoying skinny people who can’t gain weight no matter how many banana splits I eat, I personally don’t seem to have a problem telling most people no.

    Your book sounds great. I also like your title confidante.


    • Irina Avtsin March 1, 2011 at 3:05 am

      Thank you, Simone!


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