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What are ways to politely turn down invitations to social gatherings?

See what Mackenzi from Women in Aerospace for Leadership and Development has to politely turning down invitations from friends to social gatherings.


Q: What are some ways to politely turn down a close friend who asks you to visit their new apartment/dorm or go to a social gathering when we get back to campus?

A: This is a question that I think we are all still working on answering - even 7 months into this new way of living. After spending so much time in quarantine and in some cases alone, it may be difficult to turn down invitations to a friend’s apartment or social events. I know that personally, since we’ve returned to campus, I have heard enough virus-related horror stories about events from my roommates and friends to convince me to steer clear of social gatherings at the moment for my own safety. Whether you’re concerned about the virus or other reasons entirely, I think it’s important to have a few general guidelines when trying to politely decline an invitation to an apartment or event. Here are few things I have learned and practiced from friends, family, org members, etc. when it comes to declining invitations!

Tips for declining invitations:

  • Do not ignore the invitation! Make it clear whether or not you will be attending the event as soon as possible. Putting off the invitation or just ignoring it could send mixed signals to those inviting you and may stress you out more than just accepting or rejecting the invitation!

  • Keep your rejection short and sweet. Don’t over-explain why you won’t make it. Otherwise, it will seem like you are trying to come up with excuses/lies to get out of going.

  • Try not to make excuses. This is a tough one, but making excuses rather than being honest about why you’re rejecting the invitation could hurt feelings rather than spare them. If you are concerned about your health or safety, let them know! If you already have plans, let them know! Being honest about your rejection will allow you to avoid any unnecessary drama.

  • If this is someone you want to hangout with another time - maybe under different circumstances - ask for or plan another time to see them. Let them know you are busy the night of the event or just uncomfortable going and make it known that you would still like to hang out with them another time.

  • Thank them for the invite! Whether you accept or reject the invitation, it’s always a good idea to thank someone for including you in their plans. (If it’s a birthday party or celebration for a friend, maybe consider sending a small gift to acknowledge the occasion!)

These are a few things I always keep in mind when rejecting invitations to gatherings that I can’t or don’t want to attend. I try my best to stay away from making excuses, but if I absolutely feel like I won’t get out of an event without one, my go-to is always that I am too busy with school work (which, as an engineering major, is never really a stretch). The most important tip to take from this post is to remember that you are NOT obligated to say yes to ANYONE. EVER. If you feel uncomfortable attending an event or visiting an apartment/dorm for any reason, don’t go! You have plenty of options - such as the polite ones listed above, and less polite ones that would need their own post - for declining invitations.

I hope this post helps you in declining invitations! But remember, it’s important to also accept some invitations - especially in today’s world. See your friends and family when safe and possible. With tough online classes, a worldwide pandemic, and just life stuff in general, try to remember to carve a little time out for things and people that make you happy!

Stay safe, have fun, and HOOK’EM! :)


You can find WIALD on social media here:

Instagram: @ut_wiald

Twitter: @UWiald

WIALD (pronounced “wild”) is a student-run organization at the University of Texas at Austin. WIALD was created in 2009, when the percentage of women applying for the undergraduate Aerospace Engineering program at The University of Texas at Austin was at a historic low. In an effort to alleviate this problem, a group of women in engineering came together with the help of faculty members and the Women in Engineering Program (WEP) and formed Women in Aerospace for Leadership Development (WIALD).

This blog post was written by Mackenzi Haub, a second year aerospace engineering major and WIALD’s fall 2020 Historian.

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