Core Decorum

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Dear Decorum,

What is a polite way to turn friends down when they want to borrow something? I often have friends that ask to borrow school books or personal items, and quite frankly, I don’t want to lend my things out because I know that I will not see them until next semester.
– Used and Abused

Dear Abused,

Most folks desire and tend to be people-pleasers, but you should know that certain times and instances allow you to say no.

Believe it or not, the consequences following a refusal are rarely as negative or tense as one imagines. Be firm and don’t offer excuses – those will open up room for the person to keep pressuring you.

That means that you shouldn’t apologize; seriously, save the “I’m sorry but …” for the time you actually do something wrong. Set aside the lame excuses and just be honest.

You shouldn’t have to explain yourself, but if you must, clarify that you have had such bad experiences with lending and with borrowing (it sounds that way, anyway) that you have a personal policy that you just don’t do it anymore. Only an insensitive person would push, and if that happens, just repeat your refusal, with kindness and a smile.

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