How to Turn Down an Invitation

Published: 15th November 2011
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Have you ever been in a situation where you did not know how to turn down an invitation to a social event, but you knew that you really did not want to attend? This is an embarrassing problem that everyone faces from time to time.

One reason that it is embarrassing is that most of us want to be very polite to the person who is inviting us. We do not want to hurt their feelings by turning down their invitation. We might even want to go with them to a different event in the future, if we get the chance. On the other hand, we also do not want to get pressured into attending a boring event just because we are being polite.

What is the best way to handle turning down an invitation when you donít really want to go? The answer really depends on several factors:

How well do you know the person who invited you?

If the invitation came from someone who is a close friend of yours that you have known for many years, they will probably not be offended if it is just an invitation to a casual event. For example, if your best friend invites you to go to a movie on the weekend and you say no, then it will probably not hurt their feelings. You probably do not even need a real excuse except to say, "Thanks, but I really donít feel like doing that." If you are dealing with a person you do not know very well, be sure to be polite but tell them that you are unable to make it.

How important is the event to them?

If the invitation is for some very important occasion in the life of the person who invited you, then they probably will be hurt if you just say "No". In this case, it is a good idea to offer an excuse, but you donít need to get too elaborate. Just say, "Iím really happy that you invited me, but unfortunately I canít make it."

Would you go if this particular event was on another date?

If the only reason you are turning down the invitation is because you really have a scheduling conflict, make it very clear to the other person that you would love to go to this event, and that you would definitely go if it were held at another time. Tell them that you would like to attend some other social activity with them in the future.

How to turn down an invitation from an aggressive person

If you know that the person issuing the invitation is going to be quite aggressive about wanting to know why you canít come, itís best not to give them too much information. If you tell an aggressive person too much, they will start to argue that your excuse really isnít good enough and that you should change your plans. In such a case itís often best simply to say, "Iím sorry, I already have other plans for that day", but do not give out any details.

It is very important to learn how to turn down an invitation politely. Be kind and respectful towards the other person no matter what the situation, and no matter what your feelings are about the person who has invited you. Donít use an invitation that you donít want to accept as a chance to hurt the person who invited you. Such behaviour is immature and self-centered.

This article was written by friendship expert Royane Real. You can learn a lot more about how to handle social situations and friendships in her popular book "Your Guide to Finding Friends, Making Friends, and Keeping Friends." Download it now at

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