I Respectfully Decline…

InvitationMany of us have recently made or had an ongoing goal to manage our time more wisely and to be more selective of the things that we sign up for. Well, hopefully you’ve made progress with that goal. One of the biggest places that we fall off of the wagon at is in the area of events. I mean, who doesn’t like to get an invitation to an event? The problem happens when we begin to accept all events without considering the 5 W’s. Why am I going? Where is it at? Who will likely be there? What will I get out of it? Will there be any value in attending?

Now truly, sometimes, you just want to go out, be social and not think too much about it. but embracing that thought process each and every time can surely be consequential to your time management improvement plan.  The question that might be plaguing you is, how do I go about respectfully declining an invitation to an event?

Of course, the type of event that you might be declining needs to be considered. There is certainly a different way to respectfully decline a wedding invitation versus a regularly scheduled networking event. Here are a few tips to follow when considering your attendance at an event:

  1. Plan – Living on the edge each and every time and waiting until the last minute to decide your status at an event is overrated and unnecessary. Make a conscious decision to decide in advance if your schedule, mental capacity and outside obligations will allow you to attend this event.
  2. Prepare –  “I don’t have anything to wear”, “I got lost because I didn’t look up directions” and “I forgot to read the specifics of the invitation” are pretty common excuses for missing or being late for an event. Just take a moment, in advance, to properly prepare for this event that you’ve decided is more important to partake in than all of the other things on your to-do list.
  3. Engage – You’re busy, right? So is everyone else. The power of a face to face interaction is sometimes so easily underestimated. A quick glace around a restaurant, library, coffee shop, networking event, wedding or park in pretty much most major cities across the United States will reveal a large cluster of people engaged in the same type of communication that they wake up with and go to sleep with – online communication. When we get together face to face, we eliminate those awkward cold unemotional texts and miscommunication because of a misplaced comma or period and we get the opportunity to do something that our electronics can’t do — embrace human emotion.  So, if you’re at event, take advantage of your opportunity to engage with other real-life humans.

So, you’ve read about the three tips, Plan, Prepare and Engage and you’ve decided, you just can’t do them. Perhaps now, it’s time to respectfully decline. So, how do you do it?

  • RSVP – French (répondez s’il vous plaît) – If the event requires that you need to RSVP, do so. RSVP’ing does not mean that by default you are saying that you will attend the event and not responding does not necessarily mean that you are not attending, unless that is the course of action that the invitation stated. To RSVP simply means: to respond, please. Also, RSVP in the manner that is requested. If by mail was requested, send it by mail. If by email was requested, send it by email, etc.
  • Sensitive Situations: There are some instances where just responding and not formally having a conversation with someone is not necessarily the best course of action. For example, you get an invitation from your close friend for her wedding and due to some other pre-planned obligations, you cannot attend. Sure, you should send your RSVP card back (in the manner by which it was requested), but a phone call might also be in order. This might be a friendship that means quite a bit to you and you’d like to keep it that way. By simply making a phone call, letting your friend know that you can’t attend and even perhaps s still sending a gift, you’ve covered your bases and shown that if the situation were different, you perhaps would have attended. This particular protocol could also be followed in situations where there is a business outing, a professional networking event or maybe a family gathering.
  • Emergency – At some point, an emergency will arise and it will prevent you from attending something, perhaps even after you’ve already stated that you’ll be attending. If there is enough time to alert the host ( a safe time is typically before the event has started, but as quickly as possible) then do so. Express your inability to attend and be sure to include an apology. We all have our obligations, but many events require some kind of financial investment and some planning to ensure that RSVP’d guests are properly accommodated. Guests who do not attend events with no forewarning cost the organization or individual money and perhaps prevented other people from not attending.

Scarlet Says...There will come a time where respectfully declining an event invitation will be necessary. You cannot and probably should not even attempt to attend every event that you are invited to. Managing your time wisely and deciding, in advance, what you have the capacity and genuine general interest in attending will keep you focused and available to attend the truly important stuff and most important, present to respectfully engage with other people.

Until Next Time,

– Scarlet

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