Question: Do you have trouble saying no to invitations? Here’s help… I’m always being invited to social events. graduation parties, barbecues, class reunions, baby showers, home parties, weddings, birthday parties...the list goes on and on. I don’t know how to say no, so I always say yes, and then often regret my decision. It’s not that I’m anti-social. It’s just that I’m so busy already, and my time spent with my family is limited. It’s hard for me to say no, because I don’t want anyone to feel bad or that I don’t like them.  --Katie in Vermont Maria’s Response Hi Katie, While it’s definitely nice to know that your presence is wanted by many, accepting invitations to every social gathering that comes your way is clearly not something that is fitting well into your life. Most of the time when you decline, if you’re honest, people will understand. 1. Decide what you DO want to say yes to: There are going to be some gatherings that you want to attend. These will likely be those events that are hosted by or thrown for people who are very close to you, like an event for your sister, or a party for your best friend. Once you define those events you do want to attend, it will be easier to know which ones you don’t want to attend. 2. Respect your time: Just because you’re invited, certainly doesn’t mean you have to say yes. If you don’t respect your time, nobody else will either. Only you can protect your schedule. Next time you are invited to a party for a not-so- close friend that you’re absolutely sure you don’t want to attend, simply say, “I’m so flattered that you’ve invited me. Thank you so much. Unfortunately, my schedule is already over-extended and I’ll have to decline, but I hope you enjoy it” or “I’ve spent no time with my family this month. While I so appreciate the invite, I’ll have to decline this time. Thanks so much for asking me. I appreciate it.” 3. Set aside an alternate time: Perhaps you don’t want to go to a particular event, but maybe you’re willing to meet with this person to go for a run or for coffee. If that is truly the  case, you might say, “I can’t make that particular event. But I would love to get together with you. How about coffee next week on a day that works for you?” To submit your “Ask Maria” question, please send an email to: Please include... Subject Line: ASK MARIA Your FIRST and LAST name Your CITY, STATE and COUNTRY. Your QUESTION. ANYTHING ELSE you’d like us to include when we publish your question (marital status, number of children/grandchildren, hobbies, interests, etc.)
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