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by Phil Hesketh

Many people tell me they have difficulty in just saying ‘no’ when asked to do something they really don’t want to do.

So if that sounds like you, try one of these five options:

1.  ‘I can’t do it justice’

Expressed perhaps as ‘I’m really over-committed right now and if I take this on I can’t do it justice.’ Who can argue with that? But if they do, hit them with this follow up: ‘I appreciate your confidence in me but I wouldn’t want to take this on knowing my other responsibilities right now would prohibit me from doing an excellent job.’ They’re not likely to ask a third time.

2.  ‘You decide what I do and don’t do’

I’m happy to help but realistically I can’t do it without foregoing some other things I’m working on. Of tasks A and B, which would you like me to do? People don’t want to hire someone to do half a job.

3.  ‘Yes but not now’

Cleanliness might be next to Godliness but have a look what’s next to ‘procrastination’ in a dictionary. Okay, so maybe nothing too relevant but it’s still a tool worth employing. Perhaps expressed as ‘Sure, I can help you carry that old sofa to your garage. I’m a bit busy right now but how about Tuesday next week?’

4.  Simple, Gracious and Polite

Smile, tilt your head to one side and say: ‘I really appreciate you asking me but I’m afraid my time is already committed’. Then, still smiling, immediately close the door very slowly and rush back to the lounge to un-pause Sky Sports.

5.  'I’m so sorry‘

I wish I could, but it’s just not convenient / possible.’ This is sometimes also known as The Truth. A less curt alternative might be: ‘I would if I could but, for a variety of reasons, I can’t. However, can I recommend someone else?’ This features the double whammy of actually saying no but also offering help which they’ll seldom take up. Genius.