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If you want to be seen as a team player or a “doer,” it can be hard to draw boundaries when you really don’t have the time or energy for something. Even so, saying “no” is a skill we all need to develop.

Sometimes we have to turn people down. After all, there are only 24 hours in the day and no one has infinite energy. Many of us, however, don’t feel comfortable with saying “no” and worry that it will jeopardize our relationship with the person we’re turning down. So what’s the secret of a good “no” or “not now”?

Saving face

The concept of “face” was developed in 1963 by Canadian sociologist Erving Goffman, and it still applies today. Put ...

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