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The Disease To Please is essential reading and the following is an excerpt.

Overcommitting to tasks or events doesn’t help your life; instead hurts it. The next time someone asks someone of you, follow these steps:

Step 1: Delay giving an immediate response to “buying time.”

If you are on the telephone, say…

  • “May I put you on ‘hold’ for a moment?”
  • “Could I ask you to hold the line for a minute?”
  • “I need to put the phone down for a minute or so.”
  • “May I call you back in a few minutes?”

If you are in person, say…

  • “Let me get back to you with an answer after I check my schedule”
  • “I need a little time to think about it. I’ll call you back later/tomorrow/in a few days/later this week”
  • “I might have a conflict. I’ll check and get back to you with an answer as soon as I can”
  • “I need a bit of time to check on some things, but I’ll call you back with an answer just as soon as I know. Tell me the best time to reach you.”
  • “I can’t give you an answer right now. But I’ll get back to you very soon.”
  • “I’m not sure if I will have the time [to do the request], so I’ll have to let you know about it tomorrow/later/next week”

You have every right to think before you commit yourself to do anything…

Step 2: Identify your options

Step 3: Forecast the likely consequences of each option

Step 4: Select the best option

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Step 5: Respond

Respond to the request/invitation/demand firmly and directly by exercising your choice:

  • Say “no”
  • Offer a counterproposal
  • Say “yes”