Cut back your obligations, guilt-free.

Photo: Sanjeevan Satheeskumar

Kudos to those who have already mastered this time-saving, energizing, yet respectful skill. For the rest of us, who smile through events we wish we didn’t attend, here are three easy ways to non-offensively say, “No thank you.”

1. Nip it in the bud. Say, “No” from the start. Don’t leave a friend hanging by saying, “I’ll check my calendar.” That’s not respectful of their time or their desire to bring friends to an event. Don’t worry about not liking all the same things they like, but do be kind enough to let them know.

2. Be honest and polite, no lame excuses. Respect your friends’ opinions and explain that yours is different. If you honestly say that you don’t want to go to a medieval fair because you don’t like make believe, you’ll not only get out of the immediate request, but future ones too.

3. Set a personal policy and make it known. New Years is a great time to set policies because friends often ask if you have resolutions. We can set their expectations by saying, “I now have a personal policy against going to karaoke bars, lending money to friends, baking for fundraisers,” or whatever it may be. Remember it’s our own policy so we have the control to adjust it at any time.

When we do get an invite we want and like, it’s extra important to show appreciation. A thank you note goes a long way in letting people know that we care a great deal for them and like to spend time with them, at mutually enjoyable events.

Take action: Care about how your actions make others feel, not what they think of you. Figure out which obligations are important for true support, caring and love, and if you’re attending for those reasons, then do so with gusto. Then don’t feel guilty for politely, and pre-emptively if possible, declining the rest.

Inspired by Sarah Knight’s book, The Life-changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck.

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