Success

A productivity expert shares 4 perfect examples of how to say no—without burning any bridges

Connor J. Keith | Twenty20

In January 2016, I was sitting at my desk when my appendix suddenly burst. I knew I should have gone to see a doctor much sooner, but I didn't because I was too busy trying to meet all my commitments.

That experience changed the way I viewed everything in my life — my demanding job and my obligations as a wife, daughter and friend.

Before the incident, I was saying yes to everything. During my eight-day stay at the hospital, however, I had no choice but to embrace a new mantra: "Rest is the new hustle."

One of the most important lessons I learned was the power of saying no. While it can be difficult, there are some graceful ways to back out of doing things that, as Marie Kondo would put it, do not "spark joy."

Here are a few ways to do this when, for example, a close friend or former colleague asks you to attend one of their networking events:

1. Be plain

Tell them you can't go and politely decline right away. This way, you don't hold up their plans and they can ask someone else if needed.

What you can say: "Thanks for the opportunity, but I won't be able to attend."

THE END. No explanations needed. People tend to go on and on and on, but it's best to keep it simple — and then stop talking. This will help your point land in a more powerful way.

2. Be honest

Maybe you have other commitments and can't make it. Maybe you're just not feeling up for it — and that's okay, too.

What you can say: "I've gone to so many events in the past couple of weeks and am honestly pretty exhausted. But thanks for the invite, and good luck with your event!"

If it's delivered the right way, honesty can be your best friend. And you won't have to feel guilty once it's over and done.

3. Suggest an alternative

Give the other person a suggestion as to who could take your place.

What you can say: "I won't be able to attend on that specific day, but I'd be happy to connect you with my former colleague, Sandra, who might be a good fit."

It's always good to be of service!  Plus, people will appreciate and remember you for it.

4. Ask for a rain check

Sometimes, you might not be in the mood to mingle after a long workweek. But that doesn't mean you may never want to do it ever again.

What you can say: "I wish I could make it, but I'll be out of town. Please let me know the date of your next event so I can block it in my calendar."

When you show good faith and ask to be the first in line next time, you won't miss out on future opportunities.

Paula Rizzo is a writer, Emmy-Award winning producer, productivity expert and media strategist. Previously, she served as a senior health producer at Fox News Channel for over a decade. Paula is the author of "Listful Living: A List-Making Journey to a Less Stressed You" and "Listful Thinking: Using Lists to be More Productive, Highly Successful and Less Stressed."

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