It’s not easy to turn down an invitation, especially if you’re a naturally nice person.
But as we get older, we gotta learn how to say NO to things—including invites—so we can say YES to the things that truly matter to us (and that includes lounging at home in our pajamas because why the hell not).
The trick is, you just have to learn how to be graceful and polite when you do it.
Here are some tips on how to turn down an invitation so the one inviting you won’t feel awful.
1) Let them finish talking before you say NO.
When you’re invited by someone to hang out, that probably means they think you’re awesome. And because of this, you should be grateful…or at least, you should not be a d*ck.
Don’t insult them by cutting them off mid-sentence to say no. Even if you really can’t or don’t want to go, wait for them to finish. You owe it to them to at least listen to their invitation in full.
It won’t cause you too much suffering to listen to someone describe an event for three whole minutes, would it?
We all can be a little bit nicer, and we should do it when we say no to someone.
2) Give a reason why you can’t go.
I know what you’re thinking—that NO is a complete sentence and you shouldn’t explain yourself. But again, we should always try to be a little nicer. The world is already filled with jerks. Try not to be one.
If there’s something that you have to finish, then tell them “Sorry, I need to finish something tonight”, even if it’s just a Netflix show.
Or if you’re really tired, then say exactly that (but don’t elaborate that you’re actually just tired of seeing their faces—keep that to yourself!).
Just say something…anything!
If you have an invitation and someone just says “Sorry, I can’t”, you’d also want to hear a reason, wouldn’t you? Giving an explanation means you care enough for the other person.
3) Don’t say “next time” if you don’t really mean it.
The problem with nice people is that they’re willing to give a promise just because they get guilty for saying no.
“I’m sorry I can’t tonight…but maybe next week!”
If this is you, then you’ll be digging your own grave.
What if they actually do ask you again a week from now and you still don’t want to go? Then you’re trapped. Then you become the bad guy if you say no one more time. Then everyone will think you are not true to your words.
Say “next time” only if you’re really interested but you’re busy. Don’t say “next time” just to appear nice. This is how you show integrity.
4) Say a genuine thanks.
As I’ve said, having someone invite you to hang out should be a compliment—even if they’re the most atrocious person in the world. Does that mean they like your company and isn’t that something to be flattered about?
Say a genuine thanks when you turn down their invitation. Explain to them that you appreciate their invitation but you just can’t because of so and so. Double thanks if necessary.
Who knows, because of your kind gesture, they’d later invite you to something you might actually be interested in.
5) Tell them you have a personal project that you really have to attend to.
No, you shouldn’t say this as a lame excuse.
But you might think “But wait, I have no project?”
And the answer is of course… you do!
YOU are the project. Say NO to things so you can have more time to work on yourself—your fitness, your hobbies, the novel that you want to write. A full eight hours of sleep!
If you keep feeling frustrated because you’re not yet where you want to be in life, then it’s probably because you’re always saying YES to favors.
Listen, if you want to turn your life around, you gotta focus on yourself…and that takes a lot of willpower. But it requires more than that.
I learned about this from Life Journal, created by the highly-successful life coach and teacher Jeanette Brown.
You see, willpower only takes us so far…the key to transforming your life into something you’re passionate and enthusiastic about takes perseverance, a shift in mindset, and effective goal setting.
And while this might sound like a mighty task to undertake, thanks to Jeanette’s guidance, it’s been easier to do than I could have ever imagined.
Now, you may wonder what makes Jeanette’s course different from all the other personal development programs out there.
It all comes down to one thing:
Jeanette isn’t interested in being your life coach.
Instead, she wants YOU to take the reins in creating the life you’ve always dreamt of having.
So if you’re ready to stop dreaming and start living your best life, a life created on your terms, one which fulfills and satisfies you, don’t hesitate to check out Life Journal.
6) Don’t respond fast to online invites.
Today, everyone expects us to respond fast. If they see that we’re online and we don’t answer their messages in less than five minutes, people think we’re rude or downright disrespectful.
Well, don’t give in to that kind of modern-day pressure, especially if it’s from someone offering an invitation you don’t want to go.
If you want to be nice, tell them “Thanks for the invite. I’ll respond in a day or two.”
And when two days are up, turn them down nicely.
This will buy you time to really contemplate whether or not you should go and if you don’t want to, you have time to think of an approach to break it to them gently.
7) If they’re trying to sell you something, ask them directly about it.
Many people in sales throw parties and events to trap you. That’s just how they do the hustle.
If you suspect that your friend is inviting you to an event to pitch something, then it’s alright to ask them directly.
If it’s a product that you really have no interest in, tell them flat out. Of course, be nice when you say it.
Say something like, “Ben, please don’t take this personally, but I’m not really into herbal medicines.”
It’s not a bad gesture. It could save your friendship if you really have one. And to be honest, it won’t hurt them because salespeople are used to rejection.
8) Make it light.
Don’t be annoyed when someone invites you to hang out because who knows, maybe they just really need a friend. Let’s face it, making friends is not easy.
If it’s someone from the opposite sex, don’t assume that they like you just because they asked you for coffee or even to go bowling. It’s possible they’re not asking you because they find you date-able.
So don’t squirm and spread the word that someone who’s not your type asked you out.
Step down from your high horse and take it lightly. Reject them lightly too, like they’re just a friend asking for some companion.
“Bowling sounds cool, but it’s just not my thing. You want to grab coffee at the vendo instead?”
9) If they keep pushing, you don’t have to be nice anymore.
There are just people who are willing to ask you for the 20th time until you say yes. We know those types. They’re disrespectful br*ts who can’t take no for an answer.
Well then, it’s totally fine for you to not be polite after their third try.
But try not to get angry. It will do you no good. Instead, say “I told you two times already that I don’t want to, please respect that.”
Or even “How can I make it clearer to you that I’m not interested? Sorry, I just can’t. I hope you understand.”
Be firm but still respectful and composed.
But if they still keep insisting, you’re free to walk away and even call security.
It’s hard to turn down an invitation. But you know what’s harder?
To say yes to many things that we don’t really want to do. Life’s too short for people-pleasing.
Learn to say no to an invitation you really don’t want to go to and be firm. What’s awesome is that the more you practice this, the easier it gets.
It’s a skill you should learn to become more happy and free in this one wild and precious life you’re given.