30. Learn how to smile sweetly and say, “No thanks.”


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.”


About Eva Finn

Eva Finn is an award-winning marketing copywriter, advertising instructor and life expert. She started the blog, Wise Before 25 so young women can avoid making the same mistakes she did. This blog will become a book of the same title, which will include contributions from readers. She was also published in a book about the subject of hair– the good, bad and the ugly – called, fittingly enough, Hair Pieces, by the Cary Tennis Workshop. As a copywriter for more than 20 years, she has written ads, brochures, direct mail, radio and television for clients that included In-N-Out Burger, Bank of America, Toyota and Ingram Micro. Eva has a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in education. She has taught advertising classes at The Art Institute of California-Orange County and California State University, Fullerton. And she has had plenty of hard knocks from the school of life.

16 responses »

  1. Oh this is a brilliant blog! So glad I found it. I’m going to read through it. This, especially, is something I need to learn. I have learnt to say no but I’m not very gracious about it, that sweet grace is something I should try to take on.

    I also find it hard to say no sometimes. One of the hardest occassions is of course when men try to guilt trip you into seeing them, or when someone is retiring/quitting at your job and everyone is giving money for a gift. At some point I used to give money to this but in the end I decided I didn’t want to, because in most cases I don’t know the person and never will – especially not since they’re quitting anyway. However, I get out of it mostly by ignoring the entire event. It would be better to woman up and say ‘no thanks’ from the start.

    • As I mentioned, it took me a long time – and apparently by the situation I described – it’s still taking a long time. But you really do have to be firm and say “no thanks” to men, especially the ones you don’t want to see. It’s for your good and for theirs. Another great line for guys, especially after a few dates and you decide you don’t want to see them anymore: “I’m not interested in pursuing this any further.” There really isn’t much to say to that. Thanks for sharing and best of luck and thanks for enjoying 🙂

  2. I get away with being a douche where a lot of other people don’t. I always have and I don’t know why…I say it’s in the delivery, and it makes my wife nuts that people still like me in spite of my mouth. Lol. Good luck on your future book. I’ve enjoyed a couple of your posts and I’m sure a book would be successful.

  3. Great post Eva! I agree saying no is such a hard thing to do, and it’s all internal. For me I tend to over personalize the situation. In my head I’m convinced that if I say no it will affect my relationship with the person, even though it never does. I guess practice makes perfect. 🙂

    • Hey Gary, that’s so totally true – I’m glad that my friend that I wrote that post about didn’t get upset – instead she understood and also felt the same. If we have a strong relationship with that person, it shouldn’t affect it when we’re being honest in a nice way. Thanks for your insights 🙂

  4. I love it! The best part is that I always feel like I have to come up with an excuse why I am saying no, why i can’t donate, or buy Girl Scout cookies from a stranger outside the grocery store. But this way there is no excuse needed, real or made up to try not to hurt feelings or offend. What a relief!

  5. Honesty?

    Someone I started going out with recently asked me: “Do you like to get spanked?” Quickly I responded, “Do you like to get punched?”

    He laughed and asked me out for Friday night. Without a “no” he got the message.

  6. I do say no more now, but it’s always been a hard thing for me to do. I have always been kind of afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. But, I’m older and grouchier now, so it doesn’t bother me as much. I decline politely, but I do decline!

    • I know, it is hard to think about hurting someone you care about. But in the end, I think we’d all be less hurt if we were more honest with each other 🙂

  7. Ha! Why didn’t I think of this?! I’ll have to try it out. It’s so true. How can you be mad or offended by someone that’s saying “thank you”? The trick might be NOT crossing over to sarcasm. THAT might take some practice. : )

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