“No” is the least-used word in the ADDiva vocabulary. Even when we are completely overwhelmed we like to oblige. Yes, I’ll bring brownies to school. Yes, I’ll work late again. Yes, I’ll take you to the doctor. Yes, I’ll go to the movies with you. We don’t like to say “No.”

just say NO

Of course you want to be helpful. You don’t want to disappoint. You are enthused about the request. Or you’re a bona fide People Pleaser (it’s common in the ADDiva community. So how can you be honest and decline their request without burning bridges and eroding relationships?

The answer is the elusive word “No.” It works like a charm, but ONLY if you know how to use it to your advantage. Here are a dozen ways to gracefully, firmly and kindly refuse to be drawn in to someone else’s agenda:

1. “Thanks so much for asking. Unfortunately, I have a full schedule that day (or week or month).”

2. “Oh, that sounds like a great opportunity for you! I’ll be thinking about you while I ____________ (drive to Atlanta) that day.”

3. “I’m afraid I’ve said ‘yes’ to too many things and now I am forced to say ‘no’ to you. Darn!”

4. “I’d love to participate, but ______________(registering guests) just isn’t my strong suit.”

5. “Oh, I wish I’d known about this earlier. This is year won’t work for for but do you have the date of next year’s event? With enough advance notice, I might be able to help.”

6. “You know, I have made a firm decision to spend more time with my family in the evenings, so I’m not available for night meetings.”

7. “Right now, I simply won’t be able to give your project the time and attention it deserves.”

8. “You know me and my ADHD! I procrastinated on a couple of big projects that are due in the next two weeks and now I have no choice but to focus only on them.”

9. “That sounds exciting, but I am making some major shifts in my life. I am saying ‘no’ to everything except what I love to do most: ____________________ (dancing, football and my dogs). It’s not personal; it’s about my own growth.”

10. “I just read an article on the internet that said saying ‘no’ was a perfectly legitimate answer to requests, so I’m trying it out on you: NO!”

11. I am honored that you believe in me so deeply but there are other people in the world who are far better at ________________ (editing your poem, taking care of your cat, running the Fun Fair).”

12. (The ultimate way to say ‘No’): “No.” And then smile sweetly and change the subject! NO APOLOGIES NEEDED!!

See how easy that was? What’s your most creative way to say “No” without burning bridges?