CHAPTER 16

Polite Ways to Decline a Meeting Invitation

by Liane Davey

There it is in your inbox: an invitation to a meeting you really don’t want to attend. Maybe because it’s shoehorned into one of the few open spaces in your calendar. Or perhaps it’s at a time that’s already booked, and now you’re left to decide whom to turn down. Sometimes you just need to click “decline.”

Your first challenge is deciding which meetings to say no to. Establish a set of criteria for participation, and stick with it. Ask yourself the following questions.

What is the value of the meeting?

Start by assessing whether the meeting is about something important, timely, and worthwhile. Is it set up for success by having a clear purpose and an agenda? Is there background ...

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