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It’s okay to say “no” to get-togethers during the pandemic. If you’re feeling pressured or just haven’t figured out the right way to decline upcoming invites or plans, here are some tips to help you have that conversation. 

How to Politely Say “No” to Get-Togethers

Saying “no” plans with the people you are close to is never easy. After months of this pandemic, we’re all eager to get together with our family and friends again. The decision to attend a social gathering is highly personalized, and depends on a number of factors. Knowing when and how to say no to in-person get-togethers is the first step in protecting your health and the health of the people you love. As invitations are bound to happen, be prepared with the following tips: 

  1. Be Positive
    • Saying “No” to plans doesn’t have to be negative. It helps to start your response on a positive note. You may wish to convey gratitude for the invitation: “I’m so glad to hear from you!”, or “Thanks for thinking of me!”. 
  2. Be Clear and Concise
    • Make your response short and sweet. You may feel the need to provide extra reasoning as to why you’re saying no, but saying no effectively starts with just that – saying no. A simple, direct no, is the best way to make yourself understood and closes the door for negotiations. 
  3. Be Honest
    • Avoid making excuses whenever possible. Although it may seem easier to offer excuses, they can invite unnecessary conversation, and can easily backfire when your friend offers solutions to your excuses. Telling a friend you can’t make it to their event because your car is in the shop may lead them to offer you a ride, for example. 
  4. Suggest Alternatives
    • Suggest another way to connect with the person inviting you to the get-together. You can offer socially-distant alternatives, or ask your friend if they have ideas to connect in another way. Acknowledge that you really want to see them but want to keep everyone safe. “I wish I could join you, but I want to make sure I don’t risk you/your family or me/my family getting sick.” 
  5. Don’t feel pressured to keep the conversation going
    • Saying “no” is good enough. You aren’t obligated to reply if you’re pressured to provide more explanation, or are accused of being selfish or uncaring. It’s ok to say something like “I’m sorry you’re upset, but I made my decision and I’d like you to respect it” – and leave it at that.