It begins innocently enough.
Your neighbor casually mentions an upcoming BBQ and you respond that it sounds like fun. The conversation turns to golf or harpoon guns or something else banal and you forget about the BBQ. Next thing you know, your family is responsible for bringing the potato salad to an all-day birthday party in a park across town. At the same time as the Niners game. And it’s the playoffs. And you hate potato salad.
We’ve all found ourselves committed to social events that either sounded like a good idea at the time but something came up, or that we were roped into against our conscious will. Bound by merciless societal norms, backing out sans excuse isn’t an option.
To help the over-committed un-commit gracefully, we’ve partnered with US Cellular to bring you a step-by-step guide to smoothly getting out of an undesirable party, shower, or event. To avoid awkward run-ins with the host in the future, read carefully and don’t skip a step:
1. Display Genuine Regret
First and foremost, you have to convey how unfortunate it is that you won’t be able to make it. The whole plan will fall apart if you don’t sell your regret. It reassures the host that you’re only skipping out because of unforeseen, uncontrollable outside factors. If you’re having a hard time with the delivery, channel your inner Ryan O’Neill or Tom Hanks (and not so much your Space Odyssey HAL).
2. Finely Tuned Excuse
A good excuse should be specific, but not too specific. Specific enough that it seems credible, but not so overly detailed that it feels forced. Illness is fine, but it’s tougher to give advance notice of an illness and you don’t want to inconvenience the party thrower unnecessarily. Instead, stick to events that came up without warning that take precedence for an obvious reason, like work-related projects or business trips. If necessary, you can also use family members as an out -- blame it on the spouse or kids.
3. Pledge Future Commitment
This one is tricky because you don’t want to land yourself in the same predicament. Nevertheless, showing an interest in future plans reinforces step #1 and can often allow you to take the initiative. If your neighbor always throws BBQs on game day, you can propose something that fits your schedule better. If it doesn’t work out, it becomes more of a mutually unfortunate thing than just you being reticent.
The follow-up is key. Repeat steps #1 and #3 (not step #2 -- remember, no over-selling), and reinforce the fact that you were genuinely interested. A simple text asking how it went usually works best.
5. Don’t Screw It Up
If you had to back out of the commitment for a less than savory reason (not everyone thinks football is as important as you), you want to make absolute sure you don’t screw it up by Tweeting “Touchdown” 10 minutes into the BBQ when you’re supposed to be at your spouse’s work function. Your digital trail is more closely watched than you probably realize. It also helps to have support from your family which brings us to...
6. Rehearse Alibi With Family
Your kids go to school together, your spouses go to the same gym, and you know people who know the same people. To make sure you don’t reveal conflicting stories, it might be helpful to rehearse the established alibi with the family.
7. Revel In Your Guilt-Free Freedom
Look, at the end of the day, the fact is that time is precious. Don’t spend your life doing things you don’t want to do. We all have to face uncomfortable social situations from time to time, so it’s best to do so with a plan. A well-crafted strategy will let you enjoy your activity of choice with peace of mind and ensure that you aren’t burning bridges or hurting anyone’s feelings. If you executed said plan well, make sure you enjoy the moment.
Many people are stuck with a decision they made -- whether intentionally or unintentionally -- in the past, but U.S. Cellular is offering an opportunity to walk away from your wireless ones. Switch to U.S. Cellular, get a better price, and get your entire existing contract paid off.