DEAR MISS MANNERS: Sometimes people will ask me for something, and then as soon as they hear the beginning of an answer that they didn't want, they interrupt and quickly insist that they were "just joking."
Take the co-worker who wanted me to work a shift for them (again), or the irresponsible family member who wanted to borrow more money. On the few occasions that I did agree to cover a shift at work or help a family member, the requests were never jokes.
What is the best way to tell someone "no" when we need to, and ask them to drop the "just joking" ruse?
GENTLE READER: Why? The ruse allows them to save face and for you to laugh it off rather than having to decline -- or actually give them what they want.
Sorry, but Miss Manners finds it to be an excellent cover and convenient solution for you. Second only to not being asked at all.