There are few social interactions that cause more panic than the moment a friendly person invites you to an activity or event that you really do not want, but also no "good" reason to no say. You know that the reason is only "… close", but you are also a friendly and friendly person, so you will not just say , You have manners! And empathy! And – well, apparently – an obligation to skate with some strangers next Saturday, even if you do not want that deeply!
It can be difficult to reject an invitation if your reason is "I just do not want to," because many of us do not take that as a valid excuse. Which is … kinda shitty! Not wanting to do something that is optional and means pretty little use is a good reason not to do it! I do not know about you, but I do not want to live in a world where everyone who lacks the "right" excuse is supposed to take part in activities that are important to other people whose needs and wishes are condemned are. For this reason, I strongly believe that we must all give ourselves more permission to say no to this type of request.
Of course there are times when you should seriously consider the invitation, for example if the person is a close friend or a buddy who invites you to something that means a lot to them. Sometimes a close relationship means doing things that are not really your idea of a good time. Be sure to seriously consider your friend's improvisation show or housewarming party before reflexively rejecting it. But I talk more about the cases where it is not a super close friend and / or the invitation is relatively unremarkable … such as an invitation to a lecture or to watching a movie in which you are not interested or go to a restaurant on a weekday for dinner, located throughout the city and too expensive for your taste. In such situations – if you can technically but do not want to – it's actually alright to decline. Really!
The Argument Saying No
First of all, your time, money and energy (TME) are your most valuable resources. How you spend it depends directly on who you are and, ultimately, the life you want to live. And if you do not decide how you want to spend your TME – and then protect those resources – other people will decide for you. You can not really be your happiest and most authentic self if you give up this responsibility on a regular basis.
In addition, I want to say no to Hangout requests as a means of generally setting boundaries. Realizing that you have the right and ability to say "no, thank you" or "I'm not into it" without the world going down is pretty life changing. If you do it a few times, you'll find that a cornucopia of possibilities and freedom awaits you! On the other hand, if you can not tell a complete stranger, "Oh, no, thank you, I would rather not", if you try to offer a perfume sample in the mall, or get you to sign your petition in the park, you probably will If you tell a friend that it's time for a topic change, if the monologue "I hate my boss" falls in the third hour, or if you tell your parents that you can only stay for a weekend – instead of the Suggested 14 days – On your next trip home. It's a good idea to practice saying no to the little (ish) low stakes questions as they present themselves. Over time, the larger requests will feel less daunting.
If you say no, you also have the opportunity to learn more about the people in your life and how they treat you. Here's the thing: anyone who refuses to take no in response to the relatively low requirements may generally not be good at meeting limits – which is helpful information! For borders are about way more than just skating on a Saturday; It can also be about your physical autonomy, your money, your belongings and your privacy. And you may find that a person who reacts very badly to "Oh, thank you for the invitation, but I'm not really a big fan of roller skating" has problems accepting a no answer when it comes to bigger things , If your people make you guilty, put pressure on you to do something, or otherwise do not say "no," this is a problem for you, not for you. The people who actually earn your time, money, and energy will try to tell you that they respect your needs, preferences, and TME, even if they are a little disappointed with your no.
Rejecting Early invitations can also help you avoid the scenario of fearing the event for weeks and finally canceling it at the last minute. I have a lot of thoughts about canceling plans (be prepared for a future episode of A Little Better if you want to hear them !!!), but I think we can all agree that we can Fearing for an event for weeks is a crap (and much more emotional than just saying no!), and it's pretty frustrating to be canceled at the last minute. Also frustrating: hang out with someone who really does not want to be there! If my invitee options are "temporarily disappointed before I find a friend who will enjoy the activity I proposed" and "spend my * precious * TME with someone" who does not want to be here and secretly – or not so secretly – annoys me because of this ", I will always decide for the former! The agreement to do something that you really do not want to do is not necessarily friendly. Actually, it can be pretty selfish.
Speaking of selfish: If I feel really guilty in these situations, say no, I find it helpful to think about whether saying no really is . I will break this man's heart, or just think that my presence is more important than it really is. It may be easy to tell yourself that your participation is a huge deal, or that this event means so much to that other person … just to say no and make them jump and invite someone without worrying about it. Of course sometimes she really cares if you say yes! But even if they are a little disappointed, they will probably understand and get over it – which is a good result! It is more important to look after a medium or large amount than to avoid disappointing a friend by a small amount. Before you reluctantly agree, you should step back and ask yourself if you overestimate how important your presence is to your friend.
Finally, remember that if you reject, that is, whether it feels like it or not, you actually turn up for the other person. For if you say graciously no, you communicate, "This is a relationship in which we may ask for what we want. This is a world where we may ask what we need. "If you can not do this for yourself, do it for Future Them.
What I should say
I know that refusing an invitation at the moment can be stressful or cause feelings of guilt, but it does not have to be that way! It just needs practice. The more you do it, the more you realize that most people can actually handle it and that it does not affect your relationships. If you need help formulating an answer to these situations, here are some scripts based on conversations I've had in my own life to help get you started. As always, you can / should optimize these so that they feel right for the request and the relationship.
Regardless of what you say, your tone is very important; Target for warm, but relatively neutral and factual. And keep it short . Nor do you need to apologize for engaging in your boring personal reasons or to present an eight-part defense, as if you were ADA Alexandra Cabot in a Law & Order: SVU rerun. Treat the No as normal (because it is normal for .
If it is date-specific, and you prefer not to do so on the day / time in question:
"Thank you very much Unfortunately, I will not make it, but thank you for the invitation! "
" Oh, that sounds good, but I will not make it, but have fun! " If you're probably never prepared for an activity on the suggested day / time:
"Oh, the concert sounds really funny, but I can not go on big trips on weekdays because of work But have fun! "
" Ah, that sounds good, but I have the rule that I do not make any plans on Sundays – it's my day [to decompress and not talk to anyone][catch up with my parents][do all my chores and errands]but thank you for thinking of me! "
" Oh, that sounds like an explosion, but I'm pretty much out of it I have to say goodbye at 10pm. Sleep plan on weekdays these days. But thanks for the invitation! "Roller skating is not really my cup of tea, so I'm going to expose this one!"
"Thank you for thinking of me, but [music festivals/the beach/amusement parks] are not & # 39; t really my pace! "
You could also add something like" But I'd like to see you and catch up soon! How about [some alternative programming that you both enjoy]? "
If you have little bandwidth and expect for the foreseeable future
" Ah, I would like to [see you/catch up/hang out] but I have not been able to get much time for myself lately and I have myself promised myself that just kneel down and have a quiet weekend! "
" I do not really have the bandwidth for a lot of sociability at the moment, but I'd like to [do something else][in a couple days/weeks/months when you’d be up for it]. "" I do not have much room for extracurricular activities these days, but I would like to [do something else][at some date in the future when you’d be up for it]. "
"Ah, that sounds [lovely/fun/amazing] but I have not slept well lately and promised myself that I would stop going to so many [happy hours/pool parties/roller skating networking events] so that I can set a more unified schedule."
"Me I know I could not come the last few times you invited me, but it's not that I do not want to come! [My schedule is just busy][I’m feeling broke[I can’t really do things on weeknights][In general, roller skating isn’t really my jam][I’ve been pretty depressed, honestly, so socializing is a bit of a struggle right now] But I hope the stars will align soon and I can attend! "
Note: The latter is a good option if you have rejected invitations from one and the same person and are worried that they are aligning with you. I think you quit because you just do not want to hang out with them much better to be honest and clear why you reject invitations (more on that!), especially if they come from close friends who would probably like to know how you are and b) that they are not about them  By the way, you do not have to offer an alternate hangout at any future time, if you prefer not to! In that case you can simply say, "But thanks for the invitation!"
If you need a moment to calm down before answering:
"Let me check my calendar and come back to you!"
(And then come back to them quickly – do not wait until they follow!)
A note about making excuses
I am generally against it, to invent a reason when I receive an invitation reject. Here's the reason: If you tell a lie that you can not attend on that particular date (when it's really about the activity itself), the person might ask you to perform this activity on another day's odd position. Or, you assume that you actually love roller skating and would like to be on the invitation list for all future local roller skating events. This result is good for exactly nobody !
Alternatively, if they somehow find out that you did not have "real" plans that day (or the plans you claimed), or for them later, discover that you actually feel like inline skating because they assume that it was personal that you simply did not want to hang out with them. (Which may or may not be true!) But even if they are you probably do not try to communicate that .)
If you're just a little bit more honest about the reason, why you can not make it, you communicate important information: I actually do it like you do. Actually, I do not like inline skating or hangouts during the week. The honest answer is that you trust them to be authentic and open with them, and that you take enough care of them to build a relationship in which you feel yourself seen and known.
But also: rejecting an invitation is not that deep! It is literally fine.
By the way …
If we want to say no, we have to be prepared to extend this option to others. So remember, if someone rejects your invitation, that's fine. That does not necessarily mean that they do not like you or that they do not want to be your friend. And look, if someone just rejects your invitations and you suspect that he does not really want to be friends, that's another matter. But it could also mean that you do not want to be your friend! This is disappointing and pungent, but also alright – because you do not want to be friends with people who do not want to be friends with you or share your interests.
If you are upset about the "no thanks". Remember that a person who rejects an invitation may feel vulnerable and require courage – even from relatively self-confident individuals. So you have to feel pretty strong about it. I also found it helpful to consider a "no" not as a minor but as a favor because there is nothing worse than knowing that someone was afraid to spend time with you, or regretting it Having invested her TME in something you wanted to do. They also do you the favor of saying no, instead of saying yes and then eating you. And they give you permission to say no to them one day.
So if somebody says, "I can not do it," let that be good enough. Trust them to have their reasons, respect their willingness to protect their TME and go further. If someone says, "I do not like roller skating," you think he just does not like roller skating. If someone says he's too busy, do not judge him for spending the evening "doing nothing." (The decision to do nothing if you are busy otherwise is a big deal!) If someone says he can not afford to have dinner with you, do not catalog all the expensive shoes he owns and the amount of shoes You saw them consuming $ 5 this week. Know that a "No" simply means "So I do not want to spend my TME at this moment" and that it's alright, even if it feels a little bad.
Rachel Wilkerson Miller is the author of Dot Journaling: A Practical Guide and a former senior editor at BuzzFeed . She is currently working on her second book, The Art of Emergence: A Guide to Self-Care and Foreign Care (The Experiment, Spring 2020). You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram and read her blog here .
The content of each "A Little Better" column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of SELF or SELF editors.