If you don't want to do something: just say no. Be assertive and avoid resentment, it will benefit everybody involved.

"Could you just..."

At home and work, we’re besieged by requests we’d rather decline. But we often feel obliged to mumble “yes” when we might as well say no because our resentment is so obvious, says psychotherapist Gael Lindenfield, author of 101 Morale Boosters. “People think refusing will make the other person feel hurt or angry and it will be the end of their friendship or job. But it doesn’t—it does the opposite,” she says.

 

Be honest and assertive

So drop the apologies and follow this script instead: 

  • “You’re a really good friend/I really value working here.” Start on a positive note that shows you appreciate the relationship.
     
  • “But I’ve given it some thought and decided that I can’t help.” No need to spell out why you won’t lend money or work weekends. “Avoid saying anything that invites a reply, like ‘I’ve got a lot on at the moment,’ ” says Lindenfield.
     
  • “I know you’ll be disappointed.” Empathy shows that you’re aware of the other person’s feelings and is vital.
     
  • “I hope you understand as our friendship is important to me/I’ll be able to focus on my job, which will be better for us all.” Close with an upbeat ending that stresses the benefits to both of you.

 

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