Are our fears of claiming ‘no’ overblown?


Everybody has been there. You get invited to one thing that you just completely don’t need to attend – a vacation celebration, a household cookout, an costly journey. However doubts and anxieties creep into your head as you weigh whether or not to say no.

You may surprise should you’ll upset the one that invited you. Perhaps it’ll hurt the friendship, or they received’t lengthen an invitation to the following get-together.

Do you have to simply grit your enamel and go? Or are you worrying greater than it’s best to about saying “no”?

An imaginary fake pas

We explored these questions in a lately revealed examine.

In a pilot examine that we ran forward of the principle research, we discovered that 77% of our 51 respondents had accepted an invite to an occasion that they didn’t need to attend, fearing blowback in the event that they have been to say no. They fearful that saying no may upset, anger or sadden the one that invited them. In addition they fearful that they wouldn’t be invited to occasions down the highway and that their very own invites can be rebuffed.

We then ran a collection of research wherein we requested some individuals to think about declining an invite, after which report their assumptions about how the particular person extending the invite would really feel. We requested different individuals to think about that somebody had declined invites that they had prolonged themselves. Then we requested them how they felt in regards to the rejection.

We ended up discovering fairly the mismatch. Folks are inclined to assume others will react poorly when an invite isn’t accepted. However they’re comparatively unaffected when somebody turns down an invitation they’ve prolonged.

In reality, individuals extending invitations have been rather more understanding – and fewer upset, indignant or unhappy – than invitees anticipated. In addition they stated they might be reasonably unlikely to let a single declined invitation preserve them from providing or accepting invites sooner or later.

We discovered that the asymmetry between individuals extending and receiving invitations occurred no matter whether or not it concerned two associates, a brand new couple or two individuals who had been in a relationship for a very long time.

One speech bubble with a question mark in it, and another with an ellipses, indicating contemplation or a brief moment of speechlessness.
Individuals are fairly understanding when their invites are rebuffed.
Carol Yepes/Second by way of Getty Photos

Why does this occur?

Our findings recommend that when somebody declines an invite, they assume the one that invited them will deal with the chilly, laborious rejection. However in actuality, the particular person extending the invite is extra prone to deal with the ideas and deliberations that ran by means of the pinnacle of the one that declined. They’ll are inclined to assume that the invitee gave due consideration to the prospect of accepting, and this usually leaves them much less bothered than is likely to be anticipated.

Apparently, whereas our analysis examined invites to enjoyable occasions – dinners out to eating places with a visiting celeb chef and journeys to quirky museum reveals – different research have discovered that the identical sample emerges when somebody is requested to do a favor and so they decline.

Even with these much less gratifying requests, individuals overestimate the adverse implications of claiming no.

Lay the groundwork for future invitations

There are some things you are able to do to make issues simpler on your self as you grapple with whether or not to say no an invite.

First, think about that you just have been the one extending the invitation. Our analysis reveals that persons are much less prone to overestimate the adverse implications of declining an invite after they envision how they might really feel if somebody turned down their invite.

Second, if cash is a purpose you’re contemplating passing on a dinner or a visit, share that with the one that invited you – so long as you are feeling snug doing so, in fact. Different analysis has discovered that persons are particularly understanding when individuals cite funds as their purpose for declining.

Third, take into account the “no however” technique that some therapists recommend. Decline the invitation, however provide to do one thing else with the one that invited you.

With this technique, you’re making it clear to the one that invited you that you just’re not rejecting them; reasonably, you’re declining the exercise. A bonus with this technique is that you’ve got the chance to recommend doing one thing that you just really need to do.

In fact, there’s a caveat to all of this: When you decline each invitation despatched your means, in some unspecified time in the future they’ll in all probability cease coming.

However assuming you aren’t a ordinary naysayer, don’t beat your self up if you find yourself declining an invite from time to time. Chances are high that the one that invited you may be much less bothered than you assume.



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