You’re pumping gas when up walks an acquaintance who has been bugging you to serve on a committee she chairs.
Face it: She has you cornered. But you can still control how long the conversation lasts. If you’ve decided not to join the committee, tell her then and there. Biggs recommends using a simple line, like “Love to―can’t” (or a variation, if you want to soften it). “The trick is to stop there and not explain why,” says Biggs. “You don’t want to keep the door open for her to come up with even more arguments to try to change your mind.”
If you are still considering her proposal or don’t want to make a rushed decision, say hello but keep moving. Start backing away as if you’re in a rush to get somewhere, or pretend to rummage through your purse for your cell phone to make a call. It should become apparent that you’re too busy to talk. If she doesn’t let up, “tell her you’ll call her with an answer on a certain day,” says Fitter Sloane. “Be respectful of her time,” she adds. “Call her on Monday if you said you would.”