When it comes to cancelling plans there are rules that no one told me until approximately one week ago.
I broached the subject of how to best cancel plans among friends, and one barked at me before I’d finished my sentence, “Don’t cancel after whatever you’re meant to be going to has already started.”
Well. That sounds valid.
Another insisted you should call, don’t text, which feels unnecessarily intense.
One made the point that you should never cancel (or… tell someone you’ve cancelled) because something better came up. If you’re meant to be going to their birthday drinks, don’t tell them last minute you got an invitation to a party that you couldn’t say no to.
Others added not to overtly lie, because they will find out, and you should never cancel on someone more than once in a row.
More than one friend had experienced a significant falling out with someone, with one losing a friendship for good, over poorly cancelled plans.
There is clearly much at stake, which is why definitive rules are so important.
But the most surprising transgression was one I’d been guilty of more times than I can count.
Do not begin your ‘I’m so sorry I can’t make it’ message with the words, “I’m actually the worst.”
LISTEN: Here’s exactly how to cancel plans without looking like a jerk. Post continues below.
Firstly, as I had explained to me, it’s annoying. You’re meandering. Get to the point.
Secondly, it feels insincere. It’s overly self-deprecating.
But most importantly, you’ve made the cancellation of plans about you. The person who’s just been bailed on now has the responsibility to respond, “Oh, you’re not the worst!” and make you feel better about your own unreliability, which is probably not something they feel like doing.
Of course, you ought to apologise. A, “I’m really sorry I’m going to have to cancel,” is understandable. But don’t publicly berate yourself, and force the person who’s now likely spending Saturday night alone to comfort you.
The best way to cancel plans is to let the person know with as much notice as possible. Be straightforward, and ideally, honest. Don’t over explain. And organise something in its place, so they know you really do value their company.
And – here’s the best tip.
If you don’t think you’ll be able to make it, don’t make the plans in the first place.
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