The Wheaton Blog
Sick of Welcome Parties? How to Respectfully Tell New Neighbors No
Hopefully, when you move to a new area, you experience an outpouring of attention from your neighbors, coworkers, and other peers. This outpouring may help you quickly get on your feet and adjust to your move.
But what if your neighbors and other friends shower you with so many parties and gifts you start to feel like the community project? Or what if you spend so much time socializing that you don’t have a spare moment to fully unpack or take a deep breath and relax?
This blog will help you learn how to respectfully say no so you don’t alienate your neighbors. You deserve to have a little alone time if you need it.
1. Give Yourself Time to Reply before Giving Your RSVP-Show Serious Consideration
When someone first extends an invitation, say you’ll check your calendar. Give yourself an hour or so to think things over before you say no. That hour can give you enough time to come up with a kind and understanding response.
Taking some extra time to think can also show your friend or neighbor that you didn’t just turn them down out of hand. You demonstrate that your peers’ invitations matter enough to you that you give them serious thought.
2. Explain What You’ve Already Said Yes to Before Giving Your No
You don’t always need to give someone an explanation for saying no. However, if you have a previous commitment, you can simply say that you and your spouse designated a particular night as a date night. Or you could explain that a certain night every week is for family activities, yoga classes, and other commitments.
If you’ve already been to several parties going and need preparation time (a.k.a. recharge time) between each one, you can use that as an excuse as well.
However, you shouldn’t lie to your friends and colleagues. They will probably notice the hesitation or lie in your response and feel hurt afterward. Be as truthful as possible, even if you have to be blunt about how exhausted you feel with the number of parties.
3. Have a “Bunbury” in Place for Emergencies
Sometimes, even if you kindly explain your reasons for saying no, you might get an upset response. However, you should not let the other person’s emotions overwhelm your decision. Remember-you deserve to have a break if you really need one. It’s okay to have some way to escape the situation.
In the play “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde, the titular character has an unruly made-up brother named Bunbury that he uses as an excuse to escape London when he gets into trouble. You can have a “Bunbury” of your own that you use to escape when the situation gets uncomfortable.
This isn’t to say you should lie and make up a troublesome brother who needs your rescue. But you can use your spouse’s, your children’s, or your boss’s needs as an excuse if someone gets upset with you for turning down their offer. Just make sure you use the other steps on this list too so you don’t offend your friend or coworker.
4. Do Not Say No to Every Invitation From the Same Person
If a neighbor whose friendship you want to cultivate extends an invitation multiple times, then you probably shouldn’t refuse him or her every time. Try to go to the first party if possible, then decide how often you want to see this person after that. If you can only see him or her once a month, pace yourself accordingly. But don’t say no every time if you value the relationship.
5. Let People Know How Much You Would Like to Attend Under Normal Circumstances
After you give your excuse for not going, make sure you explain how much you would like to attend future functions. Emphasize that you would attend this party if you could, and clearly express how you would like to spend time with this person when you feel less overwhelmed. Your neighbor or coworker should take you seriously, especially if you suggest an alternative date.
You don’t have to attend every party that people invite you to. Use the tips above to say no. For more advice on managing life after a move, check out the rest of our blog posts.