Subtle Ways to Turn Down Invites

Taking Your Consulting Career to New Heights declining-invitations, how-to-turn-down-proposals, politely-saying-no

Mary Rae Floresca |

Meetings, parties, events, proposals. These are a few invites that you will receive whether it is work or personal-related. However, how do you decline these invitations in a democratic and non-rude way? There a few easy steps, it’s not rocket science, all you need is the courage to say “no”.

Liane Davey, the author of You First: Inspire Your Team to Grow Up, Get Along, and Get Stuff Done and a coauthor of Leadership Solutions: The Pathway to Bridge the Leadership Gap advised, “Your first challenge is deciding which meetings to decline. A little discipline goes a long way here. Establish a set of criteria for participation and stick with it.”

There many ways someone would call you through the phone, visit your office or flood you with e-mails to invite you to a certain meeting. It can be proposal for a start-up, an important meeting for a project or simply calling out delegates to fill up the room and make a “mileage” for an event. Best to assure yourself if your time is worth wasting to that particular invite. First things first, do not be rude in turning it down, learn how to do it politely. The invite is through a phone call? Speak calmly, in that way, caller has less pressure to answer your questions. Yes, ask what you need to know about the meeting. Some do cold calls and give out a generic invite without stating the objective or what the organization is about.

Is the invitation sent to your e-mail? Read the proposal, skim not read all throughout, probably look for the 5W’s; the Who, What, When, Where and Why. Do the usual step, assess if it’s important, will it benefit you, or is your department involved for the meeting. Check your schedule as well, maybe you can send your associate or assistant instead of you if you have already commitments. If to attend, avoid impromptu speeches by asking if you have to prepare a speech. You may ask, “What are you looking for me to contribute at this meeting?” or “Who are the other attendees of the meeting?”.

Also, don’t keep the requester hanging from your statement, “I will get back to you the soonest” even if you won’t. They will just keep on following up on your decision whether you will or not attend the agenda you are being invited to. Don’t make it to a point where the requester visits your office, or desk. Simply say through e-mail or call, “I’m interested with your invitation, however, our department are working on priorities set for the rest of the year, maybe we can connect with you next time.”

If you’re quite curious on their proposal, you may consider to attend the first meeting, however if it still didn’t work out well, again, gently decline the next invite. Politely say no, say you have other plans for the next months or your firm did not approve of you participating, no questions asked. Good luck!

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