1. Say no and yes. Turn down this particular request and suggest an alternative that’s more on your terms. Say, “I appreciate your offer and won’t be able to serve as chair. I will be glad to advise the new chair about the best practices so they can learn from my previous leadership experience.”

2. Say no and meet their needs through other means. Let them know that although you can’t say yes to the specific request, you do have ideas on how they can get their needs met. You can say, “I’m not available to lead that committee; however, I’d like to recommend Benecia, who has mentioned her interest to me. She’d do a great job.”

3. Say no graciously and without guilt. If you’ve been giving, giving, giving (and even if you haven’t), you have the right to say no without feeling bad. It is not your responsibility to rescue others from their dilemma. Perhaps you can say with a smile, “Thank you for your offer. I have promised my family I’m leaving my evening and weekends free for the rest of the year, and I want to honor my commitment to them.”

4. Use diplomatic words. Avoid statements like “I know you desperately need my help, but there’s no way I can lead this committee right now; I’m already overbooked.” Rather, exercise more diplomacy: “I understand you need help, and I wish I had some free time to pitch in, and I don’t. What I’d like to suggest is …”

These responses can help you maintain your relationships and your boundaries.

Sam Horn in Talking on Eggshells