I have a friend who I deem to be the master of this skill. I remember this guy at the office was going around asking everyone for money to buy raffle tickets for his church. Now mind you, in that office, it seemed like we were giving money every day for some worthy cause – starving children, breast cancer, world peace, you get the idea. Well this guy comes around to me and of course, even though he annoys the crap out of me on a personal level, I give him the money. I asked my friend if she contributed to his cause as well, and she said she didn’t. And I was like wow, how did you get out of that one? That was when she imparted a lesson on me that I still need to learn: When someone asks you to do something that you don’t want to, smile sweetly and say, “No thanks.” A few years have passed and I’ve mostly lived by this rule, until recently. Another friend of mine and I were meeting for happy hour and she sent me a text asking if it was okay to invite this guy she met at another happy hour because it could be a “good networking opportunity.” And I’m thinking, for whom? Because she had already told me about this guy, and said he looked like Danny Devito, but was kind of “sweet.” Needless to say, I did not want him to join us. But did I text back sweetly, “No thanks,” as a wise woman would do? And believe me, in this case, I really should have. Because when I got to the bar, I see her sitting with this guy and he looks like he’s about 80. My friend said he would just “stop by” but ended up staying the whole time, regaling us with his stories about how successful he is and how he represented himself in court five times and won. Of course, I asked him what he was charged with and he became very evasive and said, “White collar stuff.” The best part, he starts to hit on my friend who is probably 40 years his junior. “You have such beautiful skin,” he says to her. I excused myself to the restroom at this point in protest and disgust. Later, she tells me he asked her out. The real clincher: when the bill came, Mr. Successful insisted we split it three ways. It just goes to show even old guys can be douche bags.
Word to the wise: A little no thanks goes a long way. When you think about it, it’s really hard to argue or get offended by someone who says this to you. It softens the blow and saves you from looking like the bad guy.
When is it hard for you to say no? Note: If I’m lucky enough to get a book deal, your comments may be published anonymously in the upcoming book, “Wise Before 25, 50 Things Young Women Need to Know.”