Blog post #5 – Will you have a conversation with me?

I would love some feedback from my new Algonquin community of bloggers. I started my own blog almost two years ago. This post below was one on my first. It’s too long, it’s poorly tagged, and of all the posts I have written, I don’t think it’s the most engaging or interesting. Despite this, it has been my most successful post by leaps and bounds. According to Word Press statistics, It has been viewed from dozens of countries around the world over 3,800 times. Other than being able to view those statistics (the search terms and referrer information is deleted daily and there have been few comments), I have nothing else in terms of engagement or ‘conversation’ to analyze so therefor do not know how to replicate this post’s success. I am curious about what others have to say – will you be my audience and have a conversation? 

How to decline an invitation

invitationPeggy from Petawawa writes: “Dear Kate, I have always been uncomfortable with turning down an invitation, even if it’s for something I don’t want to attend. I just don’t like the idea of hurting someone’s feelings. Sometimes, instead of saying no, I try to come up with a ‘reasonable excuse’ to decline, but then I feel bad for not being upfront and honest. Don’t get me wrong, I love being invited to parties and other events and so do my husband and kids, but we have a busy life and just don’t have the time or energy to do everything. How can I graciously decline an invitation without upsetting anyone?”

Thank you for your question Peggy. First of all, you should never feel guilty or bad about saying you (or members of your family) can not attend an event. Saying ‘no’ does not mean you don’t care about or value the relationship with the person you are declining the invitation from. Putting your needs or the needs of your family first has to be a priority. As long as you promptly and respectfully decline an invitation, you can not really worry about someone else’s reaction. Here are a few simple suggestions that can help guide you when turning down and invitation:

Do’s of declining an invitation:

  • When someone invites you to an event of any kind, be prompt with your reply, especially if the invite comes with an RSVP deadline. The person throwing the dinner or party needs to know how many people to plan for. If you can not, or do not want to attend an event, it is ok to be honest and simply say, “I am sorry, but we are not available”. If you feel the need to give an explanation, be brief instead of excessively detailed (otherwise you may make it sound like you are coming up with excuses): “we already have plans”, “I am overwhelmed and we have too much on our plates at the moment”, “we have had a few busy weeks(ends) and we just can not make anymore commitments at the moment”, “my son/daughter has already been invited to another birthday party this weekend and I am afraid he/she can not handle the stimulation or the excessive sugar consumption.”
  • Some people worry that if they say no to the same person on a regular basis, they will stop getting invitations. If you get kicked off someone’s invite list for that reason, are they really your friend? Friendships don’t come with rules about mandatory attendance at social events. If the invite is for something more formal, and you regularly decline, let the organization know you would like to be kept on their list with the hope that you will be able to attend one day (thinking of university alumni events that always seem fun and interesting but take a back seat to the needs of my kid’s current activity schedules).
  • Do understand that not everyone is interested in the same kind of events (maybe they prefer a gallery opening to listening to live music at a pub) so they may decline an invitation for that reason.
  • This is an important one for me… do recognize that in some cases, you have a social obligation to attend certain events: a friend’s baby or wedding shower, a milestone birthday party, or any event of major significance in close friend or family member’s life. To be a member of a community, sometimes you have to put yourself out there for other people, even if you are busy or the event takes you out of your comfort zone.

Don’ts of declining an invitation:

  • Not acknowledging an invitation is not the same as declining an invitation. Surprisingly enough, this is a common strategy for getting out of having to RSVP to an event. For all those who get invited to an event via Evite, the host can see when you have read the invitation. Just saying…
  • Do not fake an illness or lie (doing that cancels out what I said above about not getting kicked off someone’s invite list for repeatedly declining) to get out of an invitation. Lying will make you feel guilty and karma has a way of making sure you get caught.
  • Do not ‘no show’ if you have said yes to attending an event. It’s better to be honest upfront, or even cancel last minute, then to not show up at all. This is especially true for an event in a private home where a host has spent time and money preparing for a certain number of guests.
  • If you are on the giving end of the invite, do not press an invitee too much to reschedule if they say they can not make it. There have been times in my life when I have just not been able to commit to making plans (young babies at home, busy work or school schedule) and I know how stressful it can be when one is continually approached to pick another date for a get together. No matter how well meaning a friend may be with their efforts to accommodate your schedule, sometimes a host needs to take a step back and accept that there is a reason why someone has declined an invitation.

Social tip: All the etiquette experts agree; honesty and promptness are key when declining an invite, especially if you want to be included in the fun in the future.

Originally posted from

4 thoughts on “Blog post #5 – Will you have a conversation with me?

  1. I feel guilty a lot when I have to decline an invitation. Maybe it has to do with my social anxiety? or sometime I just do not feel like going out that day. But there will always be other times to spend time with people and go to event. Most people do understand when you decline an invitation, though it’s harder to do it over the phone or through text because you can’t really tell by their body language and how upset they are. From experience most of the time people are very understanding.

  2. Hi Kate. Although the Do’s and Don’ts you’ve posted may seem like common sense to some I think they are an excellent reminder. Common sense isn’t actually that common and more people than most realise are nervous and confused about social etiquette. This confusion could be compounded by the use of social media tools that some people don’t understand. Because of that I think these friendly reminders are very helpful.

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