How can I decline an invitation without giving a reason why?

Especially when the person is pushy. Let’s say a friend wants me to come to a dinner or a party or a day trip, and I’m not interested in going, for whatever reason. But I don’t have other plans at that time, so I can’t truthfully say, “Sorry I’d love to go, but my sister’s birthday party is that night,” or something. In reality, I’d prefer to spend that time relaxing at home by myself and reading a book.

So I say, “Sorry, I can’t make it,” and I don’t give a reason. But then they try to prod me to see why, with questions like, “Come on, what could you be doing on Saturday that could be more fun than this dinner?” This is especially difficult when they ask in person, putting you on the spot. It seems like a major social gaffe to say, “I’d rather read a book by myself.” What should I do?

Ramit Sethi wrote a blog post called How to decline an invitation without being a jerk.

This post is brilliant not just because of the word-for-word scripts on how to decline an invitation the right way, but also because it explains why saying yes to things you don’t really want to do can be harmful:

There’s nothing wrong with helping other people, but when you start saying “yes” to things that are distracting and drain you of energy, you can’t make the maximum impact on the world.

In the post, Ramit provides two scripts for declining invitations: one for business invitations and one for personal invitations.

Script 2 on declining a friend or relative is most applicable here:

Hi NAME,

That sounds really fun and interesting, but I’m going to pass so I can focus on a couple other things I really want to do [this week, this month, insert time frame here].

-YOUR NAME

I can definitely relate to this question.

As an introvert, I receive a lot of invitations I want to decline. Many times, it’s not because I have other plans, but because I’d just rather relax at home or do something else.

But as a strong ISTJ personality, I also value integrity and prefer to be honest and direct.

I always feel weird making up a half-ass excuse not to go do out and do something, but I find myself doing this a lot.

After reading this blog post, I really want to start using this script in my day-to-day life.

I know it will feel uncomfortable at first because of decades of programming, but I really believe it’s the right way to say no.


First published on Quora.

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