Do you have a hard time saying no? Often find yourself overcommitting? These days, it’s hard to manage a prosperous career, family life, and still make time for obligations. If you find that your free time is being devoured by commitments you care nothing about, this list is for you!
We’ve all been there. The awkward baby shower invitation from a friend of your sister’s. The wedding halfway across the country. The last-minute phone call to come into work on your day off. Some things in life are unavoidable. Fortunately, this isn’t the case for these occasions. Want to master the art of the excuse? Read on to discover 5 ways to get out of anything.
1. Be (Mostly) Honest
They say that honesty is the best policy. And it is—if it works. Being asked to volunteer at your child’s school—again? Tell them that while you love contributing, surely you’ve met your obligation for the school year. Is your office manager on your case about working even more overtime? Be forthright and say that you’re in the middle of a huge project and just can’t commit to more time. Worried that this will reflect poorly on you? Be tactful, and embellish a bit.
Is your best friend determined to bring you in on her pyramid scheme? Let her know that while you’re super excited about that shake that cures everything, you’re allergic to half of the ingredients and can’t get behind selling something you can’t try out yourself. Trying to get out of that traffic ticket? You get the point.
Being honest does not mean being rude. There are ways to tell the truth tactfully, and still get your point across. This strategy is about being direct. If you avoid confrontation, this may not be the option for you. Fear not—there are many other suggestions ahead!
2. Be (Overly) Graphic
Need to get out of that family dinner with your in-laws? Nothing works better than the old “feeling under the weather” excuse. Used this one before? Having doubts? Add more detail. As valuable as your attendance may be, nobody wants to catch the stomach flu, or that terrible cold (whether you really have it or not). Especially when you tell them how poorly you’re feeling, the buckets of sweat you’re shedding, or the amount of times you’ve had to change the bedsheets.
Approach this from the angle of “While I really would love to be there, I just don’t want you to get this terrible rash”. Not only will your host understand, but they’ll be glad you didn’t expose them to whatever you may have.
Embarrassed to share the ins-and-outs of that bad sushi you had the night before? There are plenty of other tips that may suit your style a bit better.
3. Be Busy
Studies show that we’re busier than ever these days. While this doesn’t always translate to accomplishment, it’s a great way to get out of the potluck you didn’t really want to attend. The best way to convince your host? Share your to-do list, and let them know how much stress you’re up against. No one can argue with an impending deadline, a stack of overdue reports, or a packed schedule. Just be sure that you are scheduling in time for things that you’re interested in outside of work. You can even use the evening you just freed up for something that you really want to do (or nothing at all!).
Remember that you are in control of your time. If you’ve committed to something that you just don’t want to do, you can justify wriggling out of your obligation by keeping your busy schedule in mind.
4. Be Apologetic
Maybe you’re one of the few people who has exhausted all of the options on this list. The solution for you? Say that you’re sorry. Sound too simple? Customize your apology to the situation. Let your husband know how sorry you are that you just can’t host the annual Superbowl party this year even though you really wanted to try out your new sliders recipe.
Tell your parents how devastated you are that you’ll miss the cake cutting at their annual anniversary bash. Expressing your regret and genuinely apologizing is the best way to make peace with your host. Need another reason? Saying sorry (and really meaning it) has been proven to positively impact your physical and mental health.
5. Be Prepared to Say No From The Start
Learn the art of saying no from the start. You can incorporate any of the above suggestions. But most importantly, recognize that you are in charge. Your time is valuable. You manage your own schedule. Make sure that you really are interested in something before you say “Yes!”. Don’t be afraid to ask for a day to review your schedule, or a night to sleep on it. People will appreciate your efforts to be present, even if your answer is no. Not only is it more considerate, but it gets you ahead in life as well. And if they’re still pushing you to commit? Be firm. It is better (and easier) to say no from the get-go than to have to backpedal.
You’re now equipped with 5 ways to get out of anything! Be mindful of how you’re spending your time, don’t be afraid to say no, and squeeze in time to do something you enjoy each day. Do you have another favorite go-to excuse? Any tried-and-true strategies for escaping obligations? Be sure to share with us in the comments below!