When a chance encounter with someone I barely know ends in the phrase “we should catch up,” my internal eye roll is a Liz Lemon-level “masterpiece.” I smile, of course, but on the inside I’m thinking: We’ve talked maybe twice, ever and Do you even know my last name? and I have approximately 1,500 self-care rituals the FONC-filled human within me would prioritize before hanging out with you.
It’s harsh, I know: But according to life coach Mandy Morris, bestselling author of Love…It’s How I Manifest, learning to say “no” to invitations you’re not genuinely stoked about is one more way to set those “healthy boundaries” we’re all striving for. When I ask the coach for the best escape routes for those run-ins that end with the “Let’s…” line, she says there are a few options—all of which will keep you honest about how you want to fill in your free-time (without coming across as a huge jerk).
First, if you’re speaking to someone you’ve yet to exchange personal information with, she says offering them your email—rather than your digits—is your best bet. “I usually say something like, ‘let me give you my email’ because normally, if someone really wants to see you and it is genuine, giving out an email instead of a phone number will make them more apt to think through the process of really reaching out,” she tells me. If they do indeed slide into your inbox, you’ll know that they’re really, really invested in making that one-on-one time a reality. Then, you can decide whether you want to say yes or no with cyberspace between the two of you.
Should you want to shut down the possibility of meeting up with the individual for brunch/coffee/a trampoline class right on the spot, the author recommends tweaking one of the phrases below to sound like your own:
Script 1: “It’s wonderful to see you! I won’t be able to lock-in a catch-up date with you for the time being, but I’d love to swap information so when I’m more able I can reach out.”
Script 2: “At the moment, it’s been a bit difficult keeping plans. Regardless, I loved seeing you and I hope life is fantastic for you.”
Script 3: “I’m not able to put too much more on my plate right now, I apologize! But I loved running into you and seeing how wonderful you are.”
Script 4: “That would be fun, but even if we don’t make it happen, it was fantastic seeing you!”
Script 5: “I bet we both have really full schedules, but I look forward to meeting up when the time’s right.”
Once you’ve expertly evaded the whole exchange, Morris says you might feel guilty—and that’s 100 percent okay. “The world is kind of run by guilt,” she says. (Can I get an amen?) But as she’s quick to point out, doing something out of guilt definitely doesn’t plant the seed for having heartfelt relationships in any (and every) area of your life. “It’s about coming to it consciously, asking yourself, ‘Am I operating out of guilt? Is that truly going to serve this person? Is that going to serve me? Is that the type of relationship that I want?,'” she says. If the answers are “Yes, no, no, and nope,” then skip the disingenuous touch-base.
Unfortunately, you’ll still have to navigate the occasional networking event. Here’s how to crush it. Plus, how to make it through the most awkward conversations.
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