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DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like I can never say no when I am asked to do something. This is getting to be a problem because I feel like I am stretched too thin. My job is stressful, and the stakes are high right now. As a result, my boss is piling on more and more work.
In my personal life, my friends rely on me to help them whenever they are in a bind. I am the go-to person when there is a problem. I like being that person, but I’m tired, and I have been dropping the ball a bit because there is too much on my plate. How can I learn to say no? — Just Say No
DEAR JUST SAY NO: Sit down and take a breath. Really take the time to be still. When you feel like you need to get up and do something, continue to breathe deeply and notice your surroundings. Allow yourself to enjoy a few minutes of peace and calm when you aren’t doing anything. Once you settle yourself, take inventory of your life. Look at the volume of activity that is your norm, and notice what you can eliminate. Think about how you can talk to the key people in your life to let them know what you need. For example, talk to your boss. Explain that you always want to do your best at work and to be able to accept any task given to you, but you are finding that you have been taking on more than you can manage. Ask if you can work together to be more strategic about what you do so that you can ensure that the results will remain excellent.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was invited to a party this summer by someone I do not know very well. It was nice of her to extend the invitation. I think it came because I was hanging out with a group of people who are her friends.
I am hosting a party this fall for my birthday. I plan to invite the people that we know in common, but I would not normally invite this woman. We will no longer be hanging in the same circles at that point. Do you think I should invite her? Chances are, she won’t know anybody else there. — By Invitation Only
DEAR BY INVITATION ONLY: Did you like this woman? Did you go to her party? Did you have fun? Do you have space at your upcoming party to add another guest? Do you think she would enjoy herself? If you have answered yes to most or all of these questions, why not invite her? Expanding your social group is a natural thing to do over time. While you do not know this woman well now, you seem to have a friendly relationship, and you share a few friends.
An exception would be if your party is small and intimate, and she would seem like the odd person out — but what you have described doesn’t sound that exclusive. Go for it if it makes sense, and see how she fits into your friend group.