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The How-To Lounge: Declining an Invitation

Sometimes you just don't want to go to happy hour with a friend or to a co-worker's housewarming party. Maybe the location is inconvenient or perhaps you just don't feel like making the effort, either way, all you want to do is refuse. Unfortunately most of us end up going anyway because we just can't say "no." Guilt and obligation can be brutal, but it's important to learn how to politely decline invitations, otherwise you can really run yourself ragged and end up resenting your friends. To get some great tips,

  • First of all, let the person know that you won't be going. It's far less rude to say no then to just not respond at all.
  • Give as much notice as possible. It's far better to be the first to decline than the tenth.
  • If you decline, try to make an effort to attend your friend's next invitation. If the issue of not going gets pressed, acknowledge her disappointment but don't dwell on it.
  • If the invitation is for a formal event like an engagement party or shower, it's a nice gesture to send a gift if you won't be attending. I don't personally love this particular bit of etiquette, but it will show the invitee that you were thinking of them even though you weren't there.
  • If you were planning on going, but at the last minute had a change of heart or weren't feeling up for it, it's okay to say so. I've done so before, and though your friends will be bummed out, they'll usually understand.
  • In some cases backing out at the last minute will result in a serious tongue lashing — we all have those friends, so sometimes a little white lie is in order. Your friends, family, and coworkers will notice if you start to make a habit of this, only do this in cases of desperation!
  • What are your tips when it comes to declining an invitation? Please share them in the comments section below.


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