After I had my second child, I wanted to show my boss I could handle anything. I said yes to coming back too soon and working the overnight shift! I was so beat, I fell down the stairs holding my baby — she spent eight weeks in a body cast. She's fine now, but that was an excruciating price to pay for not being able to say no.

Since then,I've trusted that I'm good enough that saying no won't hurt my prospects. Actually, being direct about what you want —without second-guessing or excuses — shows you value yourself. Power through awkward moments like these and you'll get to your yes.

1. The I-Do-Not-Need-That No

You find the perfect dress for your friend's bachelorette. Then the saleswoman starts insisting you get this belt and those earrings too.

"I love that, but I'm not going to get it today." The sales assistant is just doing her job — she doesn't take a no personally and you shouldn't either. You're wasting her time by acting like you'redeliberating or putting something on hold just for show. Say no, be lovely about it ... and leave.

2. The Parent-Trap No

Mom and Dad invite you on a cruise. You get only two weeks off and think this would be an awful way to spend one of them.

"I love you and that's so generous, but I can't. How about a weekend visit?" Time with you may be more important to them than the plan. Be quick and sweet, and don't make up a story. They knew when you were lying at age 8; they'll know now. P.S. Don't get guilted! You're an adult!

3. The "U Up?" No

The Guy You Want to Date says, "Let's hang Saturday." At 1 a.m., he finally texts, indicating his interest in, ahem, hanging. Nuh-uh.

Text, "No thanks." Wait a beat. Then, "But dinner Wednesday?" If you want more, don't take less for fear he'll disappear. Forget about jumping like it's the president calling! You'll save yourself months of pain by being clear with him and sticking to your decision.

4. The Weekend-Work No

Your boss asks you to work on Saturday, but your cousin is getting married.

"I would love to work on that with you, but I have a big family event. What if I stayed late Friday night?" Apologizing or going into an absurd amount of detail seems weak. Be calm and make eye contact and she'll respect what you're saying. Then follow up with an alternative solution if you can, so everyone wins.”

5. The Kickstarter No

Your friend has a great idea for a vegan-snack-sample-delivery business, but you do not have thedough.

"I just gave to another friend's charity race, so I'm tapped out. Can I help by making an intro for you instead?" Little white lies can be okay. You don't have to share details about your finances with friends. Value the work you did to earn your money, and donate only to causes that move you.


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