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I feel bad when someone asks me for help and I can’t help them. But sometimes, there’s no choice. Saying no is essential to your own well-being.

About two months ago, an acquaintance of mine approached me for some guidance. He had just been let go from his job and wanted some work. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any projects in hand which meant I couldn’t readily offer him any work but, I told him I’d keep him in mind.

About a week later, he called me with a business proposition. He wanted me to hire him as an employee without pay and he would use my business license to carry out freelance work. I told him, I would need to see exactly what kind of work he had in mind. After all, I can’t allow someone to work under my company and not know what they are doing.

He gave me a broad idea and insisted we meet in person to fully explain the idea. I wasn’t comfortable meeting in public areas and I told him so. I hadn’t really been out since March and I have personal reasons to be extra cautious. Despite this explanation, he tried his best to convince me that I’m being overly paranoid and that everyone was out & about.

Right there, I realized this was not the kind of person I could work with. If he didn’t respect my boundaries and my decisions, there’s no way this would work. Still, I gave him a chance and told him we could Zoom and discuss. He just wouldn’t give in and kept insisting that I was being silly.

This time, I’d had it. I was irked. These are sensitive matters, and it’s really not appropriate to be questioning someone’s choices on what they think is safe.

I told him to stop asking me to meet, as I wasn’t going to change my mind. So, he dropped it. Eventually, I had to tell him that his line of business didn’t fit in with mine. I was trying to let him down gently. He got upset and said, “Just say you’re not interested!” I had to respond saying “You’re right, I’m not interested.”

In spite of his behavior, I feel bad for him. He’s out of a job and desperate. I know what it feels like to worry about paying your bills.

I know it’s a tough time. But, I also know that I have to be careful when it comes to doing business with people. The decisions I make affect not just me, but my family too. So I can’t afford to be frivolous.