DEAR HARRIETTE: I was just invited to join the community board in my town, which is wonderful. The only thing is that I am totally not available. I work two jobs, and I have a young child and a husband who works intermittently. We have a good rhythm in our home, but I’m afraid that adding anything more will upset our equilibrium.
When I told the person who invited me that I didn’t think I could do it, he acted disappointed. I really do appreciate the organization’s faith in me, but I can’t give in to the pressure. I really cannot do this job right now. How can I say no to them and still have good standing in the neighborhood? -- No Can Do, Brooklyn, New York
DEAR NO CAN DO: Honesty is all you have. Sincerely thank the members of the organization for thinking of you and believing that you would be a great fit for the board. Tell them that you will consider the role in the future, but as disappointed as you both are, you know that you do not have the time right now. Offer to participate intermittently in community activities, to help get the word out when there are important announcements, etc. Assure them that you will do what you can, but be firm that what you cannot do is be a formal board member at this time.