JUST SAY NO!
Try this technique if you're the type who tends to get carried away by the enthusiasm of the person making the request. You say yes only to realize when you walk away that you really wish you hadn't agreed. Instead, play for time by saying, "Wow, that sounds fun or interesting. But I need to check my calendar or with my husband who may have made plans for us/think about that because I'm not sure I can manage it. Let me get back to you," advises communication expert Judith Selle McClure, Ph.D. Then, when you've had a day or so to think it over, get back in touch with the persona and use one of the methods listed below to say no.
The Partial No
This method is a good compromise if you don't feel right delivering a blanket "no" to someone. It allows you to help someone out, but on your own terms, says stress expert David Posen, M.D. Example: "Gee, I sure can't lick envelopes all day, but I can from 9 to 10."
The Pronto No
A short explanation for your refusal as in, "... because I have to help my sister out that day" - makes busyness sound more genuine, says McClure. But cut yourself off quickly; a long-winded explanation will only annoy the other person. Besides, she might suspect that your over explaining is a cover-up and that you're not really tired up at all.
The Wistful No
You'll like this tactic if you're naturally effusive and eager to show people how helpful you wish you could be if there were 10 of you. It's also perfect if you want to leave the door open for the person to ask you for some help in the future, says Posen. Example; "Oh, I wish that I could watch your kids today. They're so cute and I always have a great time with them. But I'm sorry - I just can't."
The Empathetic No
If you pride yourself on maintaining a strong emotional connection with people, says McClure, this strategy allows you to have your cake and eat it too. You show the asker how I-feel-your-pain in sync you are with her even as you're turning her down, okay, yes, this strategy is a little manipulative. Example; "I can see that you really need someone to water your potted plants while you're away in the month of August. I know that these plants mean a lot to you. Unfortunately, I'm just too busy at that time to take care of them properly."
The Stealth No
If you get really nervous at the thought of turning someone down face-to-face, use this technique. Simply call at time when you're pretty sure she won't be home, and leave a polite message expressing your regrets on her answering machine. You might want to write out your "script" ahead of time, so you don't trip over your words. This prep work will be even more crucial if she happens to pick up the phone.
The Sympathy-Card No
If you've overwhelmed with obligations, exhaustion, you name it, and you're comfortable letting everyone know that, go for this tactic. They may walk away feeling sorry for you after you've said something like, "I'd help you, but I'm just swamped these days. I can barely keep milk in the fridge." And they'll think twice before bugging you again.