Polite refusal is a mental health technique that works all year long but is especially handy when dealing with holiday activities. When the first Christmas rolled around after I started dating my future husband, he told me point-blank that he would have nothing to do with decking the halls or anything else, for that matter. No lights, no tree, nada, zip. This is really working out for him and I have adapted to his preference (which some might call sloth), grateful for his candor.
Setting boundaries is important to keep communications clear and prevent hard feelings and resentments due to failed expectations from happening. Narcissistic personalities (self-centered, always right while putting you down) only respond to ultimatums such as “Respect me or I’m outta here.” However, you must honor your line in the sand if you want others to take you seriously and follow through with promised consequences to their misbehavior.
You can also decline party invitations and shun other assorted gatherings that pop up this time of year. In case you were wondering, those four capital letters on many invites – RSVP – means “please reply” in French (Respondez-vous s’il vous plaît). If you know you don’t want to go to Aunt Sally’s salsa shindig, she’d probably like to know in advance so she could give your portion to someone else. Just sayin’.
People who try to do everything wind up exhausted, frustrated, and stressed out. The secret to polite refusal is to say “please” and “thank you” a lot, as in, “Thank you but I can’t make it.” You don’t need to invite a competitive argument or insult the inviter by saying you made other plans or got a better offer – even if true. I like to add, “Please keep me in mind for the next get-together,” to keep the doors of friendship open.
If the host you turned down cops a bad attitude or is genuinely hurt, return the invitation for a date next year – after the holidaze. But be sure to stand your ground if the inviter starts pressuring you to change your mind and cave. If all else fails, tell the truth: “I will have to be there in spirit because my body is [weak / tired / sick / sick and tired] and I need some personal time.”
Instead of “Ho Ho Ho” go for a “No No No” this holiday – You’ll be glad you did!