Ok that's not true. The bogey man's a scary guy. But I have gotten better. And here are some things that have helped:
1. Listen to what you are being asked. You've got to know what you're saying no to before you say it.
2. Decide why you're saying no. Most people don't like to hear a "no", so it's a good idea to have a reason behind your denial. Also, people can generally tell if you don't mean it, so decide that
3. Say it with a smile. This is not compulsory, I just do it because I like being nice to people. If that's not your thing, stick with a frown (which is also a convenient way to lose friends and alienate people!).
4. See things from the other person's perspective. Now this can be challenging, especially if you're dealing with one of those charming charity reps who stand on street corners to sign you up to support their charity (for just over a dollar a day! That's less than three coffees per week. That's right, I've had many a conversation with them).
Now it might be difficult to put yourself in their shoes but bear with me for a moment.
These people are generally moderately attractive, articulate individuals with at least basic literacy skills. What I mean to say is they have other options.
They were not voted "Least Likely To Succeed" in high school. They do not deserve the scorn and derision usually reserved for cats, merely because they stand on street corners and make you feel guilty – sorry, sign you up for charities.
So even if you cannot stop walking because you are an extremely important person, put a smile on your dial. Say "I'm so sorry, I might just keep going" as if you mean it.
Learn how to say no nicely.
Or just reach for your phone and keep your head down.
Grace Mathew is a Sydney-based writer and speaker.
Grace's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/grace-mathew.html