Saturday 16 December 2017

Mindful moment… Refuse an invitation

Invitation: It's kinder to say no early, rather than at the last minute.
Invitation: It's kinder to say no early, rather than at the last minute.

I am the kind of person who says 'yes' to everything - "yes, I'd love to come to your baby's birthday party", "yes, let's go out for drinks", "yes, I'll come to a dance class with you" - only to get to the day and realise that whatever I have agreed to is usually the last thing on earth that I want to do.

I used to think that in order to stop doing this, I just had to toughen up and go to things I'd committed to, regardless of whether they are appealing or not. But now I've come to another conclusion: just stop agreeing to do things I don't particularly want to do just to be nice.

The economist Tim Harford has a good bit of advice on this. He says that whenever anyone asks you to do anything, you have to imagine that they are asking you to do it today. If you would cancel whatever else you're already doing today to do this thing instead, then you should say 'yes'. If you would not drop everything do this thing, then say a polite no now.

This takes practice. It's hard for a people-pleaser to say 'no' but I reckon it's kinder to say it now than to text it at the last minute.

* Marianne Power is the author of helpmeblog.net

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