Flickr, mhofstrand

Picture the scenario, an all-too-familiar one in most offices. A colleague is celebrating a birthday (or anniversary, return from holiday, new pet...) and has brought in a batch of home-made cookies. You've just had lunch, you're pleasantly full, and you're saving some calories for a weekend treat. And you know that if you have one cookie, you'll end up scoffing a second. And a third.

But how can you refuse without hurting your colleague's feelings? Try this three-stage process:

  1. Praise the cookies (cupcakes/flapjack/unidentifiable chocolatey concoction): - - Ooh, they look delicious.
    • Wow, what gorgeous cakes!
    • Lovely!
  2. Offer an excuse:
    • I don't want to spoil my lunch...
    • I've just had lunch and I'm really full...
    • I'm about to go into a meeting...
  3. Then say that you'll have one later:
    • I'll grab one in a bit.
    • I won't take one just yet, I'll save it for a treat when I've finally finished this mind-numbing spreadsheet.

Your colleague will carry on to the next person, and is unlikely to spend the rest of the day watching you like a hawk to check that you do take a cookie.