It's not me. It's you.
Recently, one of my good friends was hired to do freelance work for a guy who is renowned in our world as kind of a schmuck. She knew going in what he was like, but she was determined to do the job anyway.
Then, as you might have expected, things took a turn for the worse. He was a douchebag (because characters behave characteristically), and she walked. She did so as politely as possible, extracting herself from the situation in a style that would have made Ms. Manners (and Shanna Germain) proud.
The surprise came when his associate called my friend and asked why she'd left.
My friend reiterated the reasons: unexpected overload, increased hours elsewhere, etc.
"Was it Bill?" the associate demanded.
My friend balked. She was not going to be that person.
"It was Bill wasn't it? He was an asshole, wasn't he?"
Well. Yes. He was an asshole. But why is it up to the person on the receiving end to have to point this out?
I ducked out of an non-obligation recently, politely declining. Someone pinned me to the virtual wall and said: Was it this? Was it that? Did this happen? Is this why?
Um. Yes. In this situation. It's not me. It's you. But I kindly, gently, pathetically kept making up excuses.
My m.o. is simple. Rather than be an adult and simply say a flat-out "No" to something I:
• Duck — yes, if I can run and hide, that's what I do. You'll find me under the sofa with a flask.
• Soft no — you know, one of those, "Oh, I wish I could...but the U.F.O. has arrived to take me back to my home planet, so I won't be available."
• Dither — babble useless nonsense words confusing both parties.
• Acquiesce — say "Yes" and then seethe.
Then I came up with a new statement: "I may have personal reasons for not doing what you want me to do." Look at those words. They're iron clad. Someone might say, "Well, what are your reasons?" And then I will respond, "They're personal." You can't really argue with that.
It's worked twice now. I'm ecstatic. You can borrow it if you want. You don't even have to ask first! (But I wouldn't say no anyway.)