Have you ever declined an invitation?
If you are a human on planet earth, there is at least a decent chance that your answer to the above is “Yes.”
Assuming you did respond in the affirmative, now answer this: Do you ever feel like you have to provide some kind of explanation or excuse for your declination? One of the traps we often fall into in our social lives, and perhaps even professionally, is feeling the need to EXPLAIN our actions or decisions to others.
For example, imagine your co-worker, Joan, with whom you are quite friendly, invites you and the rest of the gang from the office to her toddler’s birthday party next weekend. Perhaps you don’t like kids, or maybe you just wanted to spend the day in your pajamas eating leftovers and watching Full House reruns. Regardless, now you feel stuck scrambling for an excuse to tell Joan as to why you won’t make it to celebrate little Cindy’s third birthday.
Here is where many of us decide that it is best to lie to Joan and tell her you’d love to make it, but you’ve got to attend Aunt Ida’s 80th birthday (and when IS her birthday, anyway?). Now cue the guilt, and maybe even anxiety, about getting caught in your “little white lie” on Monday when Joan asks how good old Aunt Ida is doing. Many of us feel that this burden of guilt and anxiety is a better alternative to telling Joan the truth – that you just didn’t feel like going. But are these the only two alternatives? I think not.
Part of being an assertive adult means being confident in your choices and not placating to others who may demand explanations or proof of your decisions.
So how can we achieve this outcome? Try this one on for size:
“Thank you so much for the invitation. Unfortunately, I can’t make it. Have a lovely time!”
It IS in fact possible to politely omit unnecessary information, allowing you to both maintain your relationship with Joan AND your plans to be a couch potato.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. “What if Joan asks WHY I can’t make it?” Again, remember: you don’t owe anyone an explanation! “I’d rather not discuss it,” or, “I have another commitment,” followed by “…but where can I send a gift?” or “…but I can’t wait to see photos!” is not only perfectly acceptable, it is also a polite yet assertive response.
So, the next time you feel you’ve been put on the spot, stand your ground. Remember that the guilt or anxiety of a lie and the whole bloody truth are not the only two options. By electing to be assertive, you can begin laying the bricks along the road to a more confident you!
For more information about assertiveness, call me today for an appointment!