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The Don Juan Situation
What's going on: You're happily surfing Facebook at your local coffee shop, when your neighbor Arnie shows up—and asks you (again) to go to the movies.

What not to say: "Well, I'm really busy these days. I...uh, I'm taking care of my sick mother." A fake excuse, writes pychotherapist, Carlo Alasko, PhD, in his book Say This, Not That: A Foolproof Guide to Effective Interpersonal Communication, is not only bad for you, but also sends the message that you're insecure or nervous, which leads him to think that he can get you to say yes, if he just tries a little harder.

What to say: "Thank you, but I'm not available...” If you're married, Dr. Alasko says, you're really not available. And if you're single but just uninterested, he says, you're not available, either—as far as your feelings go.

Leigh Newman is the deputy editor at and the author of Still Points North: One Alaskan Childhood, One Grown Up World, One Long Journey Home.