TRENTON — With Girl Scouts cookie season officially getting underway you will likely be approached at work about buying a box. Or four.

But what if you already bought some from your neighbor or your niece and you just don't want to buy more? How do you say no?

"No matter how good a cause they might be, everybody has probably at one point or another said, 'If I gave to every charity that asked for money I wouldn't have anything left,'" said Chester Spell, professor of management at the School of Business at Rutgers-Camden. "You can't say yes to everyone."

He said that it's important to develop a gracious way say no for your own psychological health and well being.

"Guilty is stressful. If you kept feeling guilty every time you said no to every charity it's not good for your health."

Spell said that one strategy is to set a budget for how much you are giving to charity.

"It's also a good financial plan," Spell said. Setting a monthly budget for charitable donations gives you a plausible reason for declining to buy.

"You've already contributed to other charities. Most people understand there are limits to what everybody can give," Spell said.

"A variation is that you have certain charities that you give to and you've already given to those recently" but you will consider them for the future. "That's a way to more easily let people down and not feel guilty about it."

"It's important when you turn someone down to first compliment them. That will go a long way towards helping them feel better," Spell said, adding that it's better to say no than to just blow off their request. Spell said he has had people push him for donations but a compliment makes it harder for someone to negatively react to a no.

Spell said that someone may feel they are being less intrusive by leaving a cookie order form in a common area like a break room. "It's easier for people to ignore what's in the common area."

Advice columnist Harriette Cole advised those who do try to sell to their co-workers to not be pushy. She suggested reminding people of what they bought previously, "then step back and allow the person to think about it."

"Graciousness often makes more sales."

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at\

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