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How to cancel a luncheon date tactfully

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How to cancel a luncheon date tactfully
March 17, 2019 Wedding Anniversary Wishes 4 comments

However, it must be done tactfully—so, at any rate, Jerry and Senator Ogden agreed after Catherine was commissioned to call Ethel for a luncheon date.

It’s a popular and growing phenomenon: We say yes, yes, yes to event after event and invitation upon invitation, but then when it comes down to actually attending, we often bail, sometimes at the last minute.

It’s as though the prospect of plans–a party, dinner gathering, networking event–is far more exciting than actually attending the event. The result, of course, is that we end up overcommitting and then going back on our promises.

When you arrive to work on Monday morning and open up your calendar to see that every night of the week is booked and that you’ve even got things scheduled throughout the workday–coffee with your former coworker, breakfast with your mentor, and a happy hour drink with a current colleague–you may feel overwhelmed and anxious.

There’s just no way you can do it all, but how do you get out of going somewhere you said you’d go or doing something you said you’d do? And how do you do it without looking like a jerk–or burning a bridge?

In fact, you absolutely can back out of an outing–and politely, too.

1. When You Genuinely Want To Reschedule

It happens to the best of us. You make plans with your former boss, and you’re actually excited about meeting up. You’re looking forward to catching up and getting the scoop on how everything’s going at your old company. But when you open your calendar and see the date scheduled for 7:30 p.m., you realize that there’s just no way you can make it. Not after the fitful night of sleep you had, and definitely not after you put in a nine-hour workday with a looming deadline attached to it.

Here’s what to do: Look at your calendar and find a time that you are 100% positive will work. Maybe you choose a night later in the week so if you’re tired, so you can remind yourself you’ll just have to get through one more day until the weekend. Maybe you suggest lunch instead of drinks. Choose a week where you have little else planned–so you have incentive for keeping this plan.

Write an email, apologizing and attempting a hard reschedule, minding the fact that you must be as flexible as possible now:

Hi [name],

I’m so sorry for the absurdly late notice, but I’m not going to be able to make it tonight. I feel awful for not letting you know before today, but the fact is I’m a bit stressed with an upcoming deadline and I didn’t sleep well last night, so I’d be terrible company. I hope you won’t hold it against me and that we can reschedule (drinks on me!). Let me know if either [date] or [date] works. If neither of those are good for you, please suggest a time, and I’ll do my best to make it happen.

Again, I apologize for the late notice. I was really looking forward to meeting and definitely want to get a new date on the calendar as soon as possible.

[Your name]

2. When You Never Should’ve Committed In The First Place (And Don’t Want To Reschedule)

This, too, happens to the most well-intentioned among us. You say yes to a networking contact or a friend of a friend who wants to pick your brain about your job and industry. You attempted to carry on a conversation via email, but the person persisted, and now you have an 8:30 a.m. coffee date lined up during one of the busiest months you’ve had in a long time.

You’re honestly happy to answer his questions and chat frankly with him about the changing landscape of the marketing industry, but you are so overextended that even squeezing in an early-morning coffee feels like it’ll put you over the edge.

You’ve got to be up front and direct. Apologize for breaking plans, but be adamant about continuing the conversation online. Here’s what to say:

Hi [name],

I was just looking over my calendar, and I’m stretched way too thin this month; in fact, I don’t think next month is going to be much better. At this point, it’s just not feasible to reschedule our coffee meeting. I’m sorry I won’t be able to make it on Friday, but I’d be more than happy to answer any questions you have about marketing in general or even about what my day-to-day involves. As someone who made the career transition not too long ago, I know you must have a lot to ask about, so really, feel free to shoot me an email.

Again, my apologies for canceling on you. I’m getting better at not overcommitting myself, but clearly I’ve still got work to do!

[Your name]

3. When You’re Bailing On An Event And Not A Specific Person

This one may seem like the easiest one to back out of, and in a way it is. If it’s not a one-on-one meeting, you may not feel the need to even inform anyone that you’re bailing, but take it from me as someone who has organized events in the past: There’s a real, live person behind every event, and if you have a contact email in your inbox, you should reach out and apologize in advance for your absence.

While it might seem like the event’s so big that no one will even notice if you miss it, the truth is, industry circles are often small, and if you care about your professional reputation, simply not showing up isn’t the right way to handle yourself.

Instead, figure out who you can reach out to. If there’s an online RSVP and you can change your response to “decline,” please do so. Include a note about how you’re sorry to back out last minute, but something’s come up. You hope to be kept in the loop about future events. If you’re reaching out to a person you’ve been in touch with about the event, even if that individual is a PR rep and an otherwise total stranger, try sending the following:

Hi [name],

Thanks for the invite for [name of event]. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to make it. I wanted to let you know as soon as I could so that you could open the list up to someone else. I’m definitely interested in these types of networking gatherings though, so I hope you’ll keep me on your list.

[Your name]

All this said, you know what’s easier than canceling on someone or telling a little white lie (“something’s come up”) when you can’t make an event or meeting you agreed to attend? Not saying yes if you aren’t positive you’ll be able to make good on the plan.

I realize that sometimes things do come up and you are busy, so much so that a lunch away from your desk just feels like too much. I get it, and the person you’re cancelling on will probably get it, too. Still, make backing out of a date a rarity. Do your best to only allow yourself to commit to the things that you’re truly excited about and are very certain you’ll make good on.

The professional world can be small, and while flaking isn’t the same thing as burning a bridge, it’s close enough for comfort, especially if the person or people on the other end are really counting on your presence.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Muse and is reprinted with permission.

Unfortunately, most of people cannot go to everything they are invited to. There are some ways to politely and graciously decline invitations.

Letter to Cancel a Party

how to cancel a luncheon date tactfully

We all know that unforeseen circumstances can get in the way of an event. Maybe your venue cancels on you at the last minute, or bad weather puts your attendees’ safety at risk.

As part of Eventbrite’s customer experience team, I know event cancellations happen to the best of us. But when cancellations aren’t handled gracefully, we’ve had upwards of 50 attendees reach out to us for support — all for a single event! On the other hand, a well-done cancellation can actually showcase the integrity of your brand.

So what should you do when faced with the difficult decision to cancel an event? Here are some tips to help you turn an unfortunate situation into an opportunity to delight, and show above-and-beyond customer service.

Need to cancel your Eventbrite event? Click here: How to cancel your event and issue refunds)

1. Communicate with your attendees and stop taking sales

If you’re sure you have to cancel your event, the first important step is to communicate with your attendees and stop selling tickets. Your ticket buyers are your number one priority, and you should tell them as soon as you’ve made the final decision.

Determining how far in advance to communicate with attendees is never easy, but ideally you’ll give at least 24 hours notice. However, the more notice — whether it’s a week, or a month — the better. This is especially the case if attendees are traveling far and need time to re-arrange travel plans, hotels, etc.

Email your attendees as soon as you can, and if possible, give everyone a call. Some folks aren’t always checking their inbox, and emails often go into Spam folders, so take all possible routes (even social media) to communicate this critical information. Your website, marketing emails, or other promotional materials are also good channels to make the announcement.

When emailing attendees, be clear about refund amounts, when you’ll start processing refunds, and when attendees should expect to see refunds credited to their accounts. Lastly, simply signing off the email with a name and title (“_______, Event Director”) instead of your event name adds a human touch to your delivery.

Here’s an example email to get you started:

This message is to inform you that this year’s Corgi Festival has been cancelled, due to severe weather and a high likelihood of lightning in the area. The safety of attendees, pets, and crew always comes first.

We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and look forward to greeting you, and your furry friends, next year.

We are issuing full refunds and you’ll receive an email within the next 1-2 days to confirm your refund has been issued. At that point, it’ll take 5-7 banking days for your funds to be available for use. Only primary ticket purchasers will receive a refund. For questions, please contact us: [https://www.dfloenteventsgrp.com/contact].

DFLO Entertainment Events Group

2. Issue full refunds

If you charged for tickets, you should issue a full refund to attendees — and start the process quickly. If your event runs for multiple days and only one day is canceled, it’s perfectly fine to offer a partial or prorated refund to multi-day ticket holders.

Postponing the event rather than canceling? As long as you have a date and venue in place, you can offer to transfer their spot to the new event. Just also offer the refund too — that new event date may not work for everyone.

One tip here: You may also want to tell attendees to talk to their bank or credit card provider to check on the status of refunds.  Attendees will often send you personal account or card information to check on refund statuses — tell them not to send you that info and talk to their bank or credit card provider directly.

3. Reflect

Once the wind has died down and everyone is aware of the cancellation, you should reflect on what could be done better next time.

What went wrong? What can you do differently in the future? What appealed to attendees and made them want to go in the first place? How many attendees will be willing to buy tickets to another one of your events in the future? These types of insights could prove invaluable when planning your next event.

The takeaway

It’s every event organizer’s worst-case scenario to have to cancel an event, but done in an open, responsible way, it doesn’t have to be the end of your event. In fact, this experience can show your opportunities for growth…and may form the foundation for a very successful event in the future.

Need to cancel your Eventbrite event? Learn how in our Help Center, here. Want more advice from our Customer Experience team? Check out earlier posts here.

Even with due diligence, there still may be some things that are out of your control. But follow best practices and to resolve the inevitable challenges faster — and protect your attendees from the chaos.  Download The Event Preparedness Playbook: How to Avoid Common Festival Failures for tips to minimize your risk of festival mishaps throughout your event.

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Free of bias

How to Cancel a Date Without Being a D*ck

how to cancel a luncheon date tactfully

These days all it takes is a few taps on your smartphone to connect with friends, make a dinner res, take a workout class, or even book a doctor’s appointment. The result: It’s easy to be overscheduled and overcommitted 24/7.

So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone. I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten for me until I had to tell a friend I couldn’t meet that night for a drink—but I’d be free Wednesday, two weeks from now, after a work dinner. What?! My life is pretty normal, but there’s a problem: I can’t say no.

Call it the “disease to please,” explains Sue Johnston, a communications coach. “Lots of us are people-pleasers by nature.” The biggest reason we’re reluctant to turn down invitations: We don’t want to hurt others’ feelings. Yet our inability to say no could also stem from a desire to avoid confrontation, impress our boss, or even gain more Instagram likes.

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Unfortunately, sometimes we give so much that we have nothing left, Johnston says. A mile-long to-do list and jam-packed calendar is a surefire way to increase stress in all parts of our lives.

The solution: Put your own needs first. Think about the typical flight attendant spiel, Johnston says: “In case of emergency, put your oxygen mask on first, then help others around you.” Translation: If you can barely breathe from various obligations and meetings and coffee dates, you won’t be able to fully support others when it matters. That’s why it’s important to actually make time for that gym session, extra hour of sleep, or quiet night at home.

The first step is to harness the power of “no.” Sure, it may feel “not nice” at first, but with practice, you can learn to say it sincerely and politely—in a way that won’t P.O. anyone. Here, experts share how to do just that in 10 different scenarios.

1. A Request for Career Advice

The scene: Your friend’s younger cousin asks to “pick your brain” about your career over coffee, but you’re swamped at work. The solution: We get it: It can be annoying when someone you don’t know wants free advice. While you’re not obligated to meet with everyone, it is nice to offer something—especially when it’s a personal connection, says Diane Gottsman, etiquette expert and owner of The Protocol School of Texas. Say, “It’s a busy season for us right now, but I’d be happy to talk to you when things slow down after the holidays.” It’s better to postpone a meeting than not give your full attention to the person when you meet, she explains.If it’s a random LinkedIn user you don’t know, be polite, but set boundaries, says Don Gabor, communications trainer and author of How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends. Respond with, “I’m not sure coffee would be possible, but if you have a specific question, I’m happy to answer it over the phone.” Give the call a time limit—and once that limit is up, make a polite exit.

2. Going Out to a Fancy Dinner

The scene: Your friend wants to grab dinner at a (pricey!) new restaurant, but you’re exhausted, and your bank account is hovering around, oh, $25.The solution: Be honest and sincere, Gottsman says. Try: “I really appreciate the invitation and I’m anxious to see you, but this is not the best week. Can we rain check?” It’s not a hard “no,” just “no for now,” she explains. “We all get tied up and overcommitted, and if they’re a true friend, they’ll understand.“ If it’s more about the price of the restaurant, suggest going to a less formal spot or grabbing coffee instead, Gabor says.

3. A Second Date

The scene: You get asked out on a second date after a dismal first one. (Clearly your wannabe paramour didn’t get the point of your “early meeting“ excuse when you called it a night after one drink.)The solution: In this scenario, you want to be honest and respectful, but succinct, Gottsman explains. “Thanks so much for the invite, but I have to pass,” should do the trick. And you don’t need to explain yourself: “A lot of people get awkward about the ‘pregnant pause,’ but you don’t have to fill it!” she says. If they persist a second or third time, stay strong—they’ll get the hint, Gabor says.What you shouldn’t do: Be brutally honest. No need to tell him that you’d never date a guy who supports Trump, or that girls who wear glasses aren’t your type.

4. Donating Your Time

The scene: You’re asked to volunteer for a charity event, but you just don’t have time this year.The solution: Come on, it’s for charity—you have to say yes, right? Not so fast. “You can’t say yes to every single request for your time or energy,” Gottsman says. “You have to pick and choose.” Tell the inquirer you’ve already committed to X and Y events this year, and you have to sit this one out, she suggests. It’s better than agreeing to help with the charity bake sale, then showing up with a bag of store-bought cookies because you didn’t have time to whip up your famous homemade banana bread.

5. A Holiday Party

The scene: You’re invited to a holiday party where you won’t know anyone—and attending alone sounds about as appealing as getting your wisdom teeth pulled. The solution: You may not want to hear it, but if you don’t have a good reason not to go, you should go, Gabor says. “Even if it’s uncomfortable, sometimes it’s really good to get out of your comfort zone and see what might happen. You never know who you’ll meet or what connections you’ll make.”If you don’t want to go due to an already hectic schedule, keep it short and sweet: Acknowledge the invitation graciously, and say you won’t be able to attend. Skip the “I have to work late that night” white lie, Gabor says. “You don’t have to give a reason you can’t go.”

6. Happy Hour With Coworkers

The scene: Your coworkers ask you to come to happy hour, but you’ve been looking forward to a 6 p.m. spin class.The solution: Tell them, “Sounds like fun, but I’m going to take a pass tonight. I have a prior commitment,” Gottsman says. That should be plenty, but working in close quarters can lead to follow-up questions. If they press you, tell them, “I scheduled a workout tonight, and I will really feel bad if I skip the gym again!” Gottsman suggests. Remember: You have to set your own priorities and respect them as well.However, sometimes you’ve got to take one for the team (literally). Networking events are one of those things you’ve just got to do: It’s “mandatory fun,” as Gottsman says. Plus, if you decline multiple invitations from colleagues, it could damage the way you’re perceived at work, Gabor says. People want to know what you’re like outside the office, he explains. What’s more: “The fact that everyone uses electronic communication has cut down our face-to-face time, so it’s smart to seize an opportunity to interact with colleagues in person.“Now, staying out late after a work dinner for even more drinks at the bar? That you can skip, Gottsman says.

7. Staying Late at Work (Again)

The scene: Your boss is always asking you to stay late at work.The solution: Here’s another time when every so often, it’s just something you have to do. But if it’s a consistent pattern, be confident and assertive without coming across as aggressive or negative, Gottsman explains. Tell him, “When I learn I have to stay late last minute, I’ve had to miss events with my kids/ had to cancel on my rec league soccer team, etc., so I’d really appreciate a day or so heads up.”Next time it’s 4:52 p.m. and your boss asks for a lengthy report by EOD, but you really need to leave the office, explain the situation sincerely: “I have a personal commitment tonight I can’t miss. I’m happy to come in early tomorrow or make some time now, but I have to be at X place by 6:30 p.m.“ Just remember, there’s a fine line between setting boundaries and being insubordinate, Gottsman says.

8. Meeting Up With an Acquaintance

The scene: An old acquaintance wants to meet up for a drink, but frankly, there’s a good reason you haven’t seen this person in a year.The solution: “This gets a little sticky: You don’t want to be offensive, but you’re not obligated to go,” Gottsman says. You can try saying, “Thanks for the invitation, but I’m tied up that night,” and don’t offer an alternative date. After one or two times, they should get the drift. Gabor adds that this is one of those situations where you can offer a white lie: “I’m really up to my eyeballs in work right now and this isn’t a good time for me.” And leave it at that. On the other hand, he says, sometimes it can be beneficial, personally or professionally, to catch up with an old college buddy or former coworker. “Give it a shot if you don’t have a real reason not to,“ he suggests. “You could turn out to have a lot more in common than you originally thought!“

9. A Destination Wedding

The scene: You’re invited to a destination wedding that’s going to set you back a month’s rent.The solution: When you RSVP to decline, send a nice note saying, “Your wedding sounds fabulous and I can’t wait to see the pictures, but it’s a hardship on my budget right now. I will be there in spirit, but I can’t make the trip,” Gottsman says. If you’re uncomfortable discussing your financial situation, don’t feel pressured: Your finances are a private matter.The same goes if you’re asked to be a bridesmaid, but it’s not something you can take on at the moment. ”Let your friend know that you love her, you’ll support her marriage, and you’re happy to help in other ways, but you can’t make the financial or time commitments that are involved in being a bridesmaid,” Gottsman says. If you’re uncomfortable discussing your financial situation, don’t feel pressured: Your finances are a private matter, Gabor says, and you don’t have to tell everyone everything about your life.If they push you—”I really counted on you to be there”—don’t be afraid to be firm. Say, “I really count on you to understand. I know you wouldn’t want me to be in a position where I need to choose between the wedding and paying my rent,” Gottsman says.

10. A Job Interview Request

The scene: A recruiter from another company asks you to interview for an open position you’re not interested in.The solution: Keep it simple. “It’s flattering to be considered, but I’m happy where I am right now”—that’s all you need to say, Gabor says. Still, it never hurts to get to know other people in your industry, he adds. “It may be worth taking the meeting for the sake of talking to new people and learning about other companies. Then you can make the decision that’s best for you.“

The Bottom Line

It’s nice to be nice, but knowing when (and how) to say no is crucial to your sanity. Wielding the power of those two little letters requires tact, manners, and courage, but the payoff is worth it.

One final strategy if it’s really hard to turn someone down: Buy yourself time, Gabor says. Tell them you’ll get back to them the next day, and work up the courage to say no (nicely), or who knows: You may decide to take them up on the invite.

For example, did they know the date and time, but not have an easy way to add the meeting invitation to their calendar? Were the prospects.

How to Gracefully Cancel an Event

how to cancel a luncheon date tactfully


Part 1

Canceling Your Appointment Politely

  1. 1

    Contact the person your appointment is with as soon as you can. The longer you wait to cancel your appointment, the more you are inconveniencing the person you are meeting with. Giving plenty of notice will show that you respect them and their time.

  2. 2

    Call to cancel your appointment personally if you are giving short notice. If you are giving less than a day’s notice, you should call the person your appointment is with directly. Emailing, texting, or having an employee notify them for you can come off as inconsiderate when you are inconveniencing them with a last-minute change.[1]

  3. 3

    Offer a sincere apology. Even if you are giving plenty of notice, let them know you are sorry for canceling the appointment. They may have given up other plans to meet with you, and you may have caused them an inconvenience by canceling.[2]
    • A brief, simple apology is enough, like “So sorry I can’t make it work this time.”
    • Avoid using vague language or saying that you “might” not be able to make the appointment. It’s better to be straightforward and honest.
  4. 4

    Explain briefly why you can’t make it. If you have a good reason, like travel problems or a sickness, simply let them know that’s why you had to cancel. If you have a less acceptable reason, like you just forgot about the appointment or accidentally double-booked yourself, give a general explanation such as “Something came up that I can’t get out of.”[3]
    • There’s no need to go into great detail about why you are canceling, even if you’re being honest. Elaborating too much can make it seem like you’re making something up.[4]
    • Never say that “something more important came up,” or anything to that effect.
    • Don’t make up excuses. You’ll run the risk of the other person finding out you weren’t honest, which could worsen the situation.
  5. 5

    Let them know you value their time. Make sure to emphasize that you appreciate them scheduling the appointment with you, and that you regret having to cancel. Make it clear that you recognize their time is not unlimited.
    • This is especially important if the other person was meeting with you as a favor, like a professional in your field with more experience.[5]

Part 2

Rescheduling for Another Time

  1. 1

    Offer to reschedule when you cancel. Not only will this save you the hassle of trying to reschedule later, it will show that you are still interested in the appointment. When you call or email to cancel, you should end by saying that you would like to reschedule at the other person’s convenience.[6]

  2. 2

    List a few time slots you are available to meet in. You should do your best to accommodate the other person’s schedule, but it’s helpful to give them a few options to choose from. Figure out 3 or 4 times you are available, and ask whether those times are convenient for them.[7]
    • For instance, you could say, “I’m free Friday after 2pm, anytime Monday, or Tuesday between 1pm and 5pm. Do any of those work for you, or is there another time that would be more convenient?”
  3. 3

    Offer to meet somewhere closer to them. To compensate for canceling your first meeting, it’s a good idea to try and make the rescheduled appointment more convenient for them somewhere. Offer to meet them at their office or somewhere close to where they will already be at that time.[8]
    • You can also suggest meeting by Skype or Google Hangouts if the person you are trying to reschedule with is very busy or far away.[9]
  4. 4

    Choose a time when you know you can make it. After canceling once, it may be even more irritating or inconvenient to cancel again, and you may damage your standing with the person your appointment is with. Look at your schedule carefully and make sure the time you agree to will work for you, and there is not a strong chance of anything unexpected coming up during that time.
    • If you don’t have anything booked in December, for instance, but you know that your schedule tends to fill up around the holidays, it’s best not to reschedule your appointment for that time.
  5. 5

    Make a note of the time you choose to meet. Once you decide on a time to reschedule your appointment for, put it into your calendar. You may also want to make a physical note and put it somewhere you will see it to remind yourself.[10]

  6. 6

    Thank them for their patience when you do meet. Start your appointment off by thanking the person or people you are meeting with for rescheduling. There’s no need to apologize again, but showing that you appreciate them for working with your schedule will indicate that you value their time.[11]

Community Q&A

Add New Question
  • Question

    How do I cancel a hair appointment when the hairdresser is my friend?

    You don't need to make excuses, just say you can't make it.

  • Question

    I agreed to meet the pastor's wife for coffee. How do I get out of that?

    Tell her that something came up, you forgot about a prior engagement, or someone is ill and needs your attention. If canceling is going to put you in a tough spot socially, though, just go to the coffee date. It's one afternoon of your life.

  • Question

    I booked a makeup trial and I didn’t like the results but went and booked the same person for my prom and I’m having my nails and spray tan done by the same person how do I cancel the appointment

    Just ring up and cancel. You do not need to explain anything. Just say something like: "Hi, I have an appointment at X date that I need to cancel please."

Ask a Question


  • You should avoid canceling appointments whenever possible, as it can reflect badly on you and may damage your connections.[12]
  • If you are meeting with someone whose services you are paying for, like a consultant, check to see whether they have a cancellation policy.

Article SummaryX

While canceling an appointment can feel embarrassing, you can break the news without causing trouble by being polite and accommodating. As soon as you know you need to cancel your appointment, contact the person you were planning to meet because the more you wait, the more you’re inconveniencing them. If it’s short notice, call them directly rather than emailing. When you tell them, give them a sincere apology and explain why you can’t make it, as they’ll probably be more understanding if you have a good reason. Additionally, offer to reschedule and give them some times when you’re available. Try your best to accommodate their schedule by offering to meet somewhere close to them. For more tips, like how to make sure you keep your rescheduled appointment, read on.

WATCH THE VIDEO ON THEME: What To Do When Girls Cancel Your Date

After a week, he invited her to lunch at one of his favorite restaurants a few blocks from the institute's offices. team members had a luncheon date with Dr. Adams for a similar progress report. Tactful silence seemed like the best approach.

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