Most frequently heard question: Do you have a minute?

Actually, no, I don’t have a minute. Neither do you. But what do we say? “Sure.”

The response is automatic. We’re being polite. We really do want to help and we’re convinced (even if secretly) that we’ve got the right answers. But all the while, we’re frustrated because, no, we don’t have a minute. Not right now certainly.

How about trying this instead: No, I don’t have a minute right now. But, I do have 15 minutes later today (or tomorrow or next week). Can you stop by at 3 p.m., and we can talk?

This works. Almost every “have-a-minute” request can be scheduled later at a time when you’re able to focus your undivided attention. If the “have-a-munute” is likely to be complicated, suggest sending a talking points note so you’ll be prepared.

Marla Tabaka, the Successful Soloist blogger for Inc.com, offers three simple and exceptionally helpful tips for leaning to just say “no.”