Know how to say no. You cannot say yes to everything or to everybody, so it is important to know how not to say yes. This is especially vital in those who command, for here fashion enters. The no of one person is more embellished. There are many who carry an eternal no in the mouth with which they spoil everything. It always comes first, so that even when later they grant everything, such answer gives little satisfaction because of the bad taste provided by the first. Refusal should never be flat, the truth appearing by degrees. Nor should it be absolute, for that would cancel dependence, so some remnant of hope must be kept alive to sweeten the bitterness of the refusal. Employ courtesy to fill the void of the denial, and let pleasing words disguise the failure of action. Yes and no are quickly spoken, but they demand long consideration.
~ Baltasar Gracian, The Art of Worldly Wisdom (1647)