Being able to say no is a key skill. You have be able to prioritize your life in the face of various things that people want you to do. I’ve always been able to say no but I think there’s an art to how you do it as well.
I was on the phone with D, a work relationship, and he was boring the pants off of me. Then he asked an obnoxious question, fishing for information on our activities, that I would never answer not only out of self-preservation but also compliance.
I responded vaguely and unenthusiastically and the conversation ended on a dud … perhaps with neither side knowing precisely why.
I should have either been very explicit as to why I was displeased (and thereby putting a marker in the sand as an honest person). Or I should have ducked the question more adroitly. Perhaps one way to do so would’ve been to say that I had another appointment.
Edit: another nuance is to say “not today” or “not tonight” when refusing something. Rather than an outright no, it implies “next time.”