Learning to Say No (with grace)

Yesterday, one of my colleagues walked into my tiny airtight office with a plate of freshly baked (I mean, she had just baked them in the toaster oven in the main office–damn devoted mothers of three children who know such evil tricks!)–and said, smilingly, “It’s cookie time!”

“No thank you,” I responded sharply, through gritted teeth, holding my breath. I barely even glanced at her.

Just to provide a little back story, I gained twenty pounds last year eating chocolate chip cookies while I was waiting for my tenure decision. It’s not that I don’t like chocolate chip cookies. On the contrary, I love chocolate chip cookies. And, to add insult to injury, yesterday, I just happened to be a little tired and a lot stressed. Not the optimal time for someone to walk in bearing my own personal version of crack!

Anyway, back to the story. She said, “Oh, sorry.” Turned and immediately walked out.

So I got what I wanted, right? Not really. Because I had turned down her emotional offering as well as her baked goods. In a broader sense, I also rejected her (during a time when she, too, has a lot going on). Believe it or not, I called her back to explain.

“I’m sure they’re wonderful,” I admitted. “And normally I would love to have one–maybe even two–but in this case, I have to pass because I’m committed to maintaining my weight loss. But thanks.”

She accepted that. I had given her a reason that seemed reasonable. And more importantly, she felt like I had accepted her gift, even though I hadn’t.

All together it was a win-win and, fortunately for me, it was warm enough to open the window!

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