WATCH: How to Cancel Plans As Politely As Possible
Even Southerners who pride themselves on excellent manners occasionally have no choice but to cancel plans. We all have family emergencies, work conflicts, broken pipes, urgent vet visits, car trouble, and other upsets to our daily routines that can waylay the best-laid plans. Good friends will understand, of course, but if you want to keep your friendship intact there are a few rules to follow when you have to cancel plans.
Etiquette expert Diane Gottsman, founder of The Protocol School of Texas, told Real Simple that if you need to cancel plans at the last minute, it’s best not to text. “Call immediately. Don’t text! Let them know you have an unexpected change of plans and are sorry for the adjustment,” she explained. When you do call, don’t over-explain as that can sound suspicious. Instead, simply explain the situation and apologize for the change in plans and empathize with their feelings.
Soon afterwards, be sure to follow-up with the person to re-schedule. Lifehacker suggests using the opportunity to consider what went wrong with the first plan. Is it too ambitious to meet for drinks at 5:30 p.m. when your boss is prone to making last minute work? Is Saturday morning brunch too hard with your kid’s changing soccer schedule? When you reschedule, choose a place and time that works with your schedule and less prone to cancellation
If the invitation you cancelled, was one you accepted on impulse and now find yourself hesitating to re-schedule, as Real Simple points out, learn your lesson. It’s better to turn down a meet up right away than to cancel at the last minute.
What happens if you don’t have a good excuse, but for whatever reason you just aren’t in the mood to meet up? First, try and talk yourself into living up to your commitment. It’s polite, it’s kind, and it’s only fair to the other person who may be going out of their way to meet you. If that doesn’t work, a recent post on Reddit suggests that when it comes to canceling on close friends, honesty is probably the best policy. One contributor suggests telling your friend the truth that you’re simply in a crummy mood. Try telling them something like, “I know we were supposed to catch up over coffee today, but I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and would be no fun at all. Can we reschedule?” Being honest may soften the blow, but be prepared that your friend may still try to lure you out of the house—or take offense.
If you’re the one who is always being canceled on, one Reddit contributor suggests checking in with your friend in advance. A quick text, email, or phone call asking if you are “Still on for Wednesday?” may open the door to more cancelations, but will give you plenty of time to make new plans.