How to Say "No" to Invites & Opportunities

I'm an outgoing introvert, which sounds like an oxymoron. I function fairly well in social settings, however I really need downtime to recharge and often prefer being alone. I also suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out). It took me a long time to realize I can say "no" to invites and opportunities. Here are some tips on how you can too.
  1. 1.
    If you're outgoing and seemingly social, people will continue to invite you to things.
    This isn't a bad thing. It's just how life works. If friends, family, acquaintance, coworkers think you're having a good time (and you probably are) you'll be invited to stuff. But sometimes you can get stretched thin with invites. That's when you have to start saying no.
  2. 2.
    Realize that invites will continue to happen and it's ok to say pass on some of them.
    It's always hard to say no the first time. You don't want to disappoint. But your priority should be you. Not them. Realize they're just trying to include you in their fun. Also realize they'll be fine without you. Give yourself permission to say no if you aren't feeling like going.
  3. 3.
    Realize there will be other opportunities.
    FOMO is a terrible insecurity. It's basically the little niggly thought in the back of your brain that says "Hey! If you don't say yes, you'll miss out on all this fun! And who knows when you'll get a chance to do it again?" But here's the thing. Unless it's real once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you'll probably get to do it again. There will always be another invite or opportunity. Saying no once won't change that.
  4. 4.
    Say no properly.
    If you fear that you are going to alienate a client or lose out on future opportunity, make sure to write an explanation of WHY you're saying no. Make it clear that you want to be asked again. My go-to excuse is to say "My workload is heavy at the moment and I don't want to shortchange my current clients." Then I throw in a "I would still love to work with you in the future! Please reach out to me again in a couple of weeks/months/Q4/whenever."
  5. 5.
    Don't over explain.
    But don't feel like you HAVE to explain why you are saying no. I've sent emails that just said "Thank you so much for reaching out to me! Sadly I can't make it on (date x, xxxx). But I appreciate the invite and would love it if you kept in touch for any future events." Obviously the wording becomes more formal or more casual depending on the event I'm turning down.
  6. 6.
    Understand that recharge time and quiet time is just as important as networking and social events.
    If you're like me, meeting and socializing is fun, but also totally exhausting. Figure out what works for you, how much quiet/alone/recharge time you need and make sure to schedule that in as well. Make it a priority on your calendar or work schedule. And if people invite you out during that precious alone time, just say you can't because you have a prior engagement. Which is not a lie.
  7. 7.
    When all else fails, set aside a chunk of time on the calendar where you commit to doing no social events. And make sure your friends know about it.
    From Oct to Dec @AJ and are usually invited to a million events and we mostly say yes to all of them. Add the obligatory family visiting and the normal holiday chaos and we're exhausted. So we vowed to take the month of February off. And we told ALL our friends that were taking the month of February off. And you know what? The look of envy and understanding from EVERY person we told was clear. Everyone gets it. Just be honest and tell them why. If they're your friend they'll understand.
  8. 8.
    Finally, don't let your new found powers of saying "No" turn you into a hermit.
    Social activities are good for all of us and sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone to grow. Say yes to weird and wild invites. But be selective about it. You never know where things will go. Sometimes we need a little push in our lives. Just keep that in mind next time you get an offer or invite. Will this be good for me or dull this exhaust me? Or maybe both? Choose judiciously and thrive knowing it was your choice, not an obligation to be fulfilled.