I invited two dear friends to join a book club with me. I think their reactions were remarkable.

The first said, “No thanks,” directly.

“Business books are so oversaturated in my life right now. I’m only reading fiction,” he said. “I can’t read another business book right now.”

Done. Clear. Easy.

Being direct is a kindness.

The second hesitated on the phone and then said, “I can’t say yes right now, because I haven’t read a book straight through in a while, and I have a ton of traveling to do over the next month.”

I wasn’t sure if he wanted in or not. He wasn’t sure either. He clarified:

“When I say yes, I want to really mean it — I lock it in, like a commitment. So I don’t say yes unless I mean it. That’s why I’m hesitant to say yes, unless I know I’ll actually be there and be able to show up.”

So grateful.

This makes it easier for me, the book club organizer, not to wonder if a bunch of people signed up, but won’t actually participate. If they’ll flake. Whether or not I’ll be chasing people around or engaging in meaningful conversation around a book (which, clearly, is what the goal is).

Saying no — clearly, firmly, when you know you can’t make the commitment or the time — is a kindness.

Saying “yes” when you really mean no is a burden on other people’s energy, time, and space.

Say yes — when you mean it.

Say no when you don’t want to.

It is the kindest thing.