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No Can Do

How to Say No to Anything

For some reason, saying no can be exceedingly difficult — even when it's the word we most want to say. That's why we liked this real-scenario guide to declining with grace. —Glo

By Woman's Day

Your mother-in-law wants to drop off her three cats while she's out of town for a long weekend.

Assuming you've taken in her four-legged friends in the past, your goal here is to change her expectations for the future. While blaming an allergy-prone visitor might work this time, she's going to get suspicious if the same friend is in town every time her cats need somewhere to rest their paws. Skip the white lies and be direct. If you can't be the solution, offer to help find one, urges Sylvia Lafair, Ph.D., author of Don't Bring It to Work. Say no, but offer to reach out to your animal-loving neighbor or your most responsible babysitter. If she establishes a good relationship with someone else, the onus will be off you in the future.

Your brother-in-law wants you and your husband to chip in for a super-expensive anniversary gift for your in-laws.

Saying yes at the expense of your savings account is always a bad idea. If you give people the impression you have an endless well of money, they're going to keep trying to draw from it. You and your husband need to decide what you can contribute to the gift, says Dr. Lafair. Approach your brother-in-law as a team and offer the following: "While that would be an incredible gift, we wouldn't be able to split the cost with you. We can put X amount toward a gift," suggests Dr. Degler. Your brother-in-law can decide whether he wants to cover the balance or shop around for a less expensive gift.

RELATED ON WOMAN'S DAY: 6 Ways to Work in Friend Time

Your best friend suggests a pricey restaurant for her birthday dinner. And you know she expects you to treat.

With your savings account in mind, remind yourself that her suggestion is just that. If you're not comfortable with footing a hefty bill, offer up a different suggestion. Dr. Degler suggests saying, "I like Restaurant A, too, but I was hoping that you'd let me treat you to a birthday dinner, and I can't swing Restaurant A right now. How about Restaurant B or C?"

Your daughter's fourth-grade teacher thinks you're the perfect person to chair the PTA this year.

Recognize that being honest here is going to benefit both parties. If you don't have the time, energy or inclination to give the job your all, then no one's going to be happy with the end results. "We all need to learn the art of telling the truth with grace," urges Dr. Lafair. "It would make the world a kinder place." To let her down easy, try saying, "I am flattered by your recommendation, but I must decline. I have too many commitments at this time, and I couldn't do the job justice," suggests relationship expert Diane Katz, Ph.D., author of Win at Work!

RELATED ON WOMAN'S DAY: Keeping Your Cool at Work

Your 17-year-old son is begging to go on the class spring break trip to Mexico.

If your children are prone to relentless begging, chances are you've caved in the past. Nonetheless, it's important to stand your ground if you think the trip isn't in your child's best interest. If you're feeling generous, de Lesseps suggests planning an alternative spring break that includes more adult supervision and is less costly and closer to home. And no matter how guilty he makes you feel, remember, says de Lesseps, "No teen's life has ever been ruined by not going to Mexico on spring break."

Wedding season is in high season, and your social calendar is packed—but you've just been invited to two more parties next weekend.

Having too many party invitations is a good problem — if you don't let yourself get overwhelmed. If you must decline an invitation, don't over explain why you can't attend, says de Lesseps. "Just say that you can't make it and thank the hostess for thinking of you." With good friends, be honest, and say you'll drop by if you can.

For more tips, visit Woman's Day.

What are your say-no strategies?


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How to Mend a Friendship

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