How to bow politely

If you’ve ever made plans with someone only to realize you really don’t feel like following through on them you know that it’s incredibly difficult to flake out on those plans without being a jerk. Your best option is to not make those plans, but if you need to bow out, here’s how to do it gracefully.

Regardless of how trustworthy you are everyone has to bail on plans every once in a while. Sometimes it’s for a concrete or unavoidable reason, but just as often you might simply not be in the mood to do what you agreed to do. Either way you have to start with the same thing: an apology.

Apologize and Make it Sincere

Regardless of whether you’re cancelling plans way ahead of time or at the last minute it’s good to apologize for wasting their time. While the event might seem inconsequential to you it’s possible your friend set aside a large block of time to hang out and you’re ruining that. Etiquette blogger Emily Adamiani sums it up like so:

Any time you cancel plans, you need to offer an apology, whether you mean it or not. You’ve taken someone’s time from them. They’ve blocked off their schedule or modified it so they can see you. Please acknowledge that.

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Suck it up and accept the fact you’re a jerk. Apologize honestly and they’ll be much more likely to take your side. Which leads us to our next tip. Photo by Andrew Yee .

Tell the Truth and Don’t Make Bogus Excuses

If you want to remain trustworthy amongst friends and co-workers you have to tell the truth when you flake out. Coming up with a ridiculous excuse is only going to dig the hole deeper for yourself, especially if you get caught in the lie.

When you tell a lie you’re giving them reasons not to trust you or worse, you’re coming up with a whole fiction you’ll have to remember. Instead just tell them the truth, no matter how stupid it sounds. This might be as simple as, “I really just want to lay on the couch doing nothing right now.” Of course, it might also be a true emergency in which case you should still tell the truth. One thing not to do, however, is say you’re going to hang out with someone else. Etiquette blogger Emily Post points out a really good reason why :

The person you’ve canceled on could easily feel like second best, especially if you give the impression that this new opportunity appeals to you more than spending time with her.

Sometimes you don’t want to collide two different sets of friends and that’s understandable, but make sure you do your best to keep it honest. Photo by Wonderlane .

Pitch a New Plan

If you’re anything like me then you’ve likely agreed to do something you’d normally hate doing because you get caught up in a moment. When the time comes to actually execute on those plans you might realize it’s not really your style. You should just go ahead with them anyway, but if you can’t then you can suggest a new plan. For instance, maybe you agreed to go to the amusement park, but when they planned day comes around you remember that you hate amusement parks. Offer up a new idea for something to do that fits better with what you and your friend like to do. If that doesn’t work, see if you can meet up with your friend afterwards.

If you’ve ever made plans with someone only to realize you really don’t feel like following through on them you know that it’s incredibly difficult to flake out on those plans without being a jerk. Your best option is to not make those plans, but if you need to bow out, here’s how to do it gracefully.

Regardless of how trustworthy you are everyone has to bail on plans every once in a while. Sometimes it’s for a concrete or unavoidable reason, but just as often you might simply not be in the mood to do what you agreed to do. Either way you have to start with the same thing: an apology.

Apologize and Make it Sincere

Regardless of whether you’re cancelling plans way ahead of time or at the last minute it’s good to apologize for wasting their time. While the event might seem inconsequential to you it’s possible your friend set aside a large block of time to hang out and you’re ruining that. Etiquette blogger Emily Adamiani sums it up like so:

Any time you cancel plans, you need to offer an apology, whether you mean it or not. You’ve taken someone’s time from them. They’ve blocked off their schedule or modified it so they can see you. Please acknowledge that.

Get the best damn sleep of your life
Boosted with 5-HTP, Chamomile, GABA, L-Theanine, Lemon Balm and Valerian Root

Suck it up and accept the fact you’re a jerk. Apologize honestly and they’ll be much more likely to take your side. Which leads us to our next tip. Photo by Andrew Yee .

Tell the Truth and Don’t Make Bogus Excuses

If you want to remain trustworthy amongst friends and co-workers you have to tell the truth when you flake out. Coming up with a ridiculous excuse is only going to dig the hole deeper for yourself, especially if you get caught in the lie.

When you tell a lie you’re giving them reasons not to trust you or worse, you’re coming up with a whole fiction you’ll have to remember. Instead just tell them the truth, no matter how stupid it sounds. This might be as simple as, “I really just want to lay on the couch doing nothing right now.” Of course, it might also be a true emergency in which case you should still tell the truth. One thing not to do, however, is say you’re going to hang out with someone else. Etiquette blogger Emily Post points out a really good reason why :

The person you’ve canceled on could easily feel like second best, especially if you give the impression that this new opportunity appeals to you more than spending time with her.

Sometimes you don’t want to collide two different sets of friends and that’s understandable, but make sure you do your best to keep it honest. Photo by Wonderlane .

Pitch a New Plan

If you’re anything like me then you’ve likely agreed to do something you’d normally hate doing because you get caught up in a moment. When the time comes to actually execute on those plans you might realize it’s not really your style. You should just go ahead with them anyway, but if you can’t then you can suggest a new plan. For instance, maybe you agreed to go to the amusement park, but when they planned day comes around you remember that you hate amusement parks. Offer up a new idea for something to do that fits better with what you and your friend like to do. If that doesn’t work, see if you can meet up with your friend afterwards.

How to bow politely

You made plans and were looking forward to them, but for whatever reason you just have to cancel. It could be that you caught the flu, something more important came up or you just need some YOU time to curl up in your cozy reading nook or take a five-minute DIY bubble bath. Girl, it happens. And guess what? It’s actually okay to bow out of commitments from time to time, so long as you do it with proper courtesy and respect to avoid being totally rude, which could hurt your relationships.

To get the deets on how to cancel plans gracefully, we talked with Brianna Haag, a well-known San Francisco career-maven, volunteer and social butterfly. In addition to heading up events for Table8 and managing a seriously impressive social life full of dates, friends and workouts, Brianna also balances scaling an annual male beauty pageant fundraiser and serves on the boards of two different non-profits. Needless to say, she’s manic about managing her Google calendar. Scroll on for her thoughts on the RIGHT way to cancel, and you’ll never appear flaky or unthoughtful again.

Cancelling plans with friends

This one might be the easiest and seemingly most forgivable, but make sure you’re honest and don’t feed the urge to fabricate a white lie. “Your friends will understand if you’re exhausted from the work day, just want to fit in a workout instead, or need some alone time,” Brianna tells us.

However, they WON’T understand if you tell them you had a work thing come up and they later discover you actually bailed because you decided on happy hour with your gym crush. We couldn’t agree more; honesty is definitely the best policy. If your squad is solid, they’ll get it. On the other hand, don’t make canceling on your besties a habit just because they love you enough to forgive you.

Ditching a date

If it’s a first date, you might feel inclined to bail last minute since there’s little risk involved. Or maybe you changed your mind about meeting your latest Coffee Meets Bagel match or would just prefer to spend your Monday catching up on the latest episode of KUWTK or GOT. Whatever the cause, Brianna says, “Really try to follow through with the plans (you made them for a reason!), but if you must cancel, ALWAYS do it with a respectable amount of notice and an explanation.”

Brianna shared a personal story too, telling us, “I recently canceled a bowling date fairly last minute, because a friend of mine had box seats to a Warriors Finals game. I made sure to be clear with my date and ask for a raincheck, and needless to say he completely understood. I made sure to follow up about rescheduling and to make it clear that I was excited to meet him.” Also, Brianna says, if it’s a date with someone you’ve been seeing for a while, there’s likely to be a little more room for forgiveness.

Skipping a casual work event

With a huge emphasis on culture and team building, more and more companies have started to schedule involved off-sites, after-work team-building events and happy hours. Though it’s obviously super important to be there to show that you care and you’re passionate about your work and team, sometimes it’s impossible to squeeze it in.

“It’s okay to miss work stuff every now and then,” Brianna agrees. “Be sure to let the organizer know not to expect you anymore — regardless of whether it’s an office happy hour, industry event, optional off-site or something else.” She also says that if there’s a Google calendar invite for everyone, you should definitely remember to update your RSVP so people don’t expect you. “This is especially important if they’re ordering drinks or food,” she wisely tells us.

Changing your RSVP for a ticketed event

Tons of events require scoring tickets in advance, and doing so obviously comes with the best intention of attending. These types of commitments range from smaller meet-ups to concerts, sports events and conferences.

Relying on her knowledge from four years of working at Eventbrite, Brianna fills us in on the proper etiquette for missing out. “If there’s a ticket involved and you’re going as someone’s guest, give them enough time to find someone else to go with them. There’s nothing worse than canceling so last minute that it’s impossible for them to recruit another attendee,” she says. Brianna also noted that though most event tickets AREN’T refundable, you can always check to see if they’re transferrable to someone else. In the best case scenario, you might still have a shot at filling your spot.

Missing an important milestone

Adulting brings about lots of important celebrations that you surely hate to miss, like acknowledging your friend’s big birthday, engagement, marriage, baby shower, promotion of her dreams and so much more. Not only does being a part of the celebration show your BFFs how much you care, but making memories totally sweetens your life and social calendar too!

So what to do when you’re totally unable to share the good times around a major milestone? “This is a tough one, but the more advance you can give your friend the better,” Brianna says. “If it’s a baby shower, a wedding or a bachelor/ette party, your friend is important to you, so your reason is probably already super valid. Just remember to be incredibly honest and give as much notice as possible.” We all know that things happen, and you’ll totally be missed, but most importantly, you’ll avoid hurting your friends’ feelings by following Brianna’s advice.

What was the last event you skipped? How did you handle it? Spill your story on Twitter @BritandCo!

You’ve just had a really interesting conversation with a potential colleague, friend, or customer. Or maybe you’ve had a chat that was a tedious waste of your time. Either way, the conversation is done and you would like to move on — but you don’t want to seem rude or uninterested. What do you do?

It is possible to terminate a conversation gracefully, says Morag Barrett, an HR consultant, leadership coach and author of Cultivate: The Power of Winning Relationships. Yesterday, I shared Barrett’s tips for starting a networking conversation. Here are her tips for ending one politely:

1. Say thank you and goodbye.

Sometimes the easiest approach is to be direct. “It’s been great talking with you. Thank you for sharing your experience. Enjoy the rest of the evening.” Barrett suggests accompanying this statement with a handshake (unless one or both of your are balancing food and drinks), and then moving on.

2. Excuse yourself to phone home.

“Please excuse me, I have to check on the kids before they go to bed,” or a similar family-related call is a reliable way to end a conversation. “As you exit, make sure you do in fact make call (or at the very least appear to be making one),” Barrett warns.

3. Ask who else you should meet.

“I promised myself I would meet three new people this evening. Who would you suggest I talk to next?” This approach works especially well if the person you’re talking with knows a lot of other people at the event. They might even make an introduction to help things along. If they don’t have a suggestions for whom you should meet, say thank you and move on, Barrett advises.

4. Introduce the other person to someone you know.

This is the flip side of the last piece of advice, Barrett says. “You are initiating the new introduction and once you’ve done so, you are free to move on.”

5. Ask directions to the rest room.

“A simple excuse and a signal that the conversation has come to an end,” Barrett says. “However, do head to the rest room and not the bar to avoid any misunderstanding or offense.”

6. Offer to deliver a drink.

This isn’t among Barrett’s tips, but it’s a strategy I’ve used often to end a conversation at an event. Say something like, “I’m going to go get a drink (or coffee or whatever). Would you like me to bring you something?” This polite offer will nearly always meet with a polite refusal, but if the other person takes you up on it, it’s quite acceptable to bring the drink, say something like, “I really enjoyed meeting you,” and move on.

7. Ask if you will meet the other person at a future event.

“I’ve really enjoyed talking with you. Will you be at the next meeting? Maybe we can continue our conversation then.” As Barrett says, this is short and sweet and leaves the door open for future connections. It also signals that you need to move on for now.

8. Ask for the other person’s card.

“Sometimes the most obvious approaches are the easiest,” Barrett says. “Ask for a card, look at it, and thank the person for their time.”

9. Give the other person your card.

Barrett recommends saying something like, “Let me give you my card. Please get in touch if I can help you in any way.” If you don’t want the other person’s card or he or she doesn’t offer one, then offer yours instead. “It’s a standard signal that the conversation is ending,” she says.

10. Ask to connect on social media.

Barrett recommends saying something like, “Thanks for spending time with me. May I connect with you on LinkedIn?” She herself likes to ask permission before sending a connection request, although that may not be strictly necessary. Depending on your industry and whether your new acquaintance is more a business connection or a personal one, you might ask to connect on Facebook or some other social network. Like asking for a card, it’s a good way to signal that today’s conversation is over, but you would like to stay in touch.

11. Plan a get-together.

If you and the other person could potentially do business together, or you would like to make friends with him or her, then ask if he or she would like to meet for coffee at a future date. That will give the two of you an opportunity to talk with fewer distractions. And it also means you can both move on for today and find other interesting people to start new conversations with.

Dear Lifehacker,
I’ve overloaded myself with work. I have a full-time job, thankfully, but to pay the bills I’ve taken on freelance work. This month I’ve found myself with too much to do. I’m supposed to help a friend move and I have a freelance project I know I won’t have time to finish. How can I back out of some of my obligations so I don’t burn out?

Dear LL,
You don’t always have to back out of too many obligations. Sometimes you only need to re-prioritize your time and set new deadlines where you can. You can’t always do this, of course, and you may need to withdraw from a commitment. Let’s talk about your other options first, and then how to bow out gracefully as a last resort.

Re-Prioritize Your Time

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To re-prioritize your time, you just need to figure out how you can move things around to make them easier to handle. Let’s use your examples: you have a full-time job, a time-consuming freelance gig, and a friend who needs your help moving on the weekend. Every one of these items creates stress and, when combined, you end up feeling burnt out . Your full-time job takes up most of your week, the freelance gig prevents you from taking a break when you’re not at home, and helping a friend move kills part of your weekend. When you have too many obligations, you end up with too little free time and feel overwhelmed. When re-prioritizing your time, you want to create what your current schedule lacks: breaks.

Burnout Is Real: How to Identify and Address Your Burnout Problem

Most demanding careers practically guarantee stress, but if you’re feeling completely exhausted,…

How do you introduce breaks into a schedule that’s stuffed with too many activities? You have a few options:

  • Take a vacation day (or two) from work. Presuming you have paid (or unpaid) leave, most jobs won’t make it difficult to take a very short amount of time off. If you can’t take actual vacation, you can utilize a sick day or two. Regardless of how you do it, take this time off and don’t use it to get other work done. You won’t feel better if you have to take time off of work to work.
  • Extend a freelance deadline. Sometimes people miss deadlines, so you should consider missing yours with a freelance gig. That said, don’t wait until the last minute in hopes you’ll finish on time. Call your client, tell them you’ll need more time to finish the project, and set new expectations. If your project has multiple deliverables, ask the client what they want first and prioritize their needs when setting these new deadlines. Yes, it hurts your credibility to push past the expected deadline but you’ll hurt yourself far more by simply missing the deadline or backing out of the project altogether. If you request more time and stick to your new commitment, your client will quickly forgive your small error in time management.
  • Cut your favors in half. While it sucks to prioritize work over your friends, sometimes you have to do that. If you don’t want to back out of a promise to your friend, consider negotiating the terms. Helping a friend move doesn’t require your presence the entire time (in most circumstances), so you could offer to come a little later and leave a little earlier. If other friends intend to help with the move, altering your commitment won’t create much of a burden and will help you feel a lot better. Talk to your friend, explain that you’re feeling burnt out, and tell them you need a little time to yourself to avoid going crazy. Let them know you still want to help but at a somewhat lesser capacity. Find out when they need you the most and show up then, rather than for the entire time.

You don’t have to choose just one option. If you feel especially burnt out and need to create more free time for your mental sanity, combine these options. A day off from work, pushing a few deadlines, and lowering your commitments to your friends can all reduce your stress without the need to back out of an obligation.

How to bow politely

Knowing when to bow in Japan and the right way to bow can seem daunting for first-time visitors, particularly because bowing isn’t very common in Western culture. Meanwhile, bowing comes naturally for Japanese people who typically begin learning the important etiquette from a young age.

Bowing properly for each potential social or business scenario is critical for success. Committing an etiquette faux pas at the wrong time could potentially derail a business deal, signal incompetence, or create an awkward situation that leads to a “loss of face.” Some Japanese companies hone employees’ bowing etiquette with formal classes; a few receive training on conducting business over drinks, too!

No need to feel awkward: With a little practice, you’ll be giving and returning bows in Japan without even thinking about it. Doing so becomes reflexive after traveling in Japan for a week or two.

The Reasons Japanese People Bow

Bowing isn’t just used for greetings and saying hello in Japan. You should also bow during other occasions such as these:

  • Showing respect
  • Expressing deep gratitude
  • Saying goodbye
  • Offering an apology
  • Telling someone congratulations
  • Expressing sympathy
  • Asking for a favor
  • Showing appreciation
  • Beginning a formal ceremony
  • Beginning a training session
  • When entering or leaving a martial arts dojo

Bowing vs Shaking Hands

During first-time meetings, many Japanese people will avoid an awkward situation by offering to shake hands with Westerners instead. In formal settings and business engagements, sometimes a combination of handshakes and bows will ensue as a nod to both cultures. If you aren’t sure, stick with bowing while in Japan. Shaking hands in Japan is more often done among close friends and when congratulating each other on a recent success.

Simply follow your hosts’ lead as to which comes first; however, you should certainly do your best to return a bow properly if one is offered.​ Your hosts are undoubtedly skilled at helping others save face and will try not to put anyone into a position of embarrassment.

While shaking hands is still relatively rare between Japanese, doing so has come to symbolize a strong relationship—signaling a deeper connection than what Westerners assign to casual handshakes. Some Japanese executives make a point of shaking hands after announcing a large deal or high-profile merger between two companies.

Bowing and Shaking Hands at the Same Time

Both bows and handshakes are used in business and formal greetings. Try to avoid the common newbie mistake of nervously bowing when the other party planned to shake hands. This happened in 2009 during President Obama’s visit with the Emperor of Japan.

You can avoid any potential embarrassment by expressing your intent to bow. If the other person has their hand extended to shake, don’t begin a bow instead! You can tell when a person or group is going to bow first when you are walking toward each other. They will often stop at a slightly greater distance (just out of hand-shaking range) with feet together. After the bow, you can then close the distance with a step or two and shake hands if necessary.

Bowing while shaking hands at the same time happens, but doing one at a time is better etiquette. Solid eye contact is expected during a handshake; meanwhile, the gaze should be down during a proper bow. Only martial artists should maintain eye contact during a bow!

If a bow-shake occurs (they sometimes do), you’ll undoubtedly be in close proximity. Bumping heads isn’t a good way to make friends, so turn slightly to your left.

How to Bow the Right Way

The correct way to bow in Japan is to bend at the waist, keep your back and neck straight if possible, feet together, eyes downward, and have your arms straight at your sides. Women often bow with their fingertips together or hands clasped in front at thigh level.

Face the person whom you are greeting squarely, but look at the ground while bowing. Bowing with a briefcase or something in your hand is OK; putting it down first is optional. You should, however, receive someone’s business card (if one follows the bow) reverently with both hands and a slight dip.

The deeper the bow and the longer it is held, the more respect and submission are shown. A quick, informal bow involves bending to around 15 degrees, while a more formal bow calls for you to bend your torso to a 30-degree angle. The deepest bow involves bending to a full 45 degrees while you look at your shoes. The longer that you hold a bow, the more respect is shown.

In general, you should bow more deeply to superiors, elders, judges, people of rank or office, and anytime the situation demands additional respect.

Remember to look down as you bow. Pick a spot on the floor in front of you. Maintaining eye contact while bowing is considered bad form—threatening, even—unless you are squared to fight an opponent in martial arts!

Sometimes you may find yourself bowing more than once until someone finally relents and stops the ritual. Each subsequent bow will be less deep. If you are forced to bow in a crowded situation or cramped space, turn slightly to your left so that you don’t knock heads with others.

After exchanging bows, give friendly eye contact and a warm smile. Ideally, try not to combine a bow (requires eyes to be downward) with a handshake (eye contact is expected).

Regardless, showing effort and that you know something about bowing etiquette in Japan goes a long way toward building a better relationship. Sadly, Westerners are notorious for their sloppy bowing in Japan. Watch a couple videos or ask a Japanese friend to demonstrate technique.

Serious Bowing

Bows of sincere apology are usually the deepest and last longer than other bows. In rare instances, to express profound apology or gratitude, a person will bend beyond 45 degrees and hold it for a count of three.

Long bows beyond 45 degrees are known as saikeiri and are only used to show deep sympathy, respect, apology, and in worship. If you are granted an audience with the Emperor of Japan, plan to perform a saikeiri, otherwise, stick to less extreme bowing.

How to bow politely

You made plans and were looking forward to them, but for whatever reason you just have to cancel. It could be that you caught the flu, something more important came up or you just need some YOU time to curl up in your cozy reading nook or take a five-minute DIY bubble bath. Girl, it happens. And guess what? It’s actually okay to bow out of commitments from time to time, so long as you do it with proper courtesy and respect to avoid being totally rude, which could hurt your relationships.

To get the deets on how to cancel plans gracefully, we talked with Brianna Haag, a well-known San Francisco career-maven, volunteer and social butterfly. In addition to heading up events for Table8 and managing a seriously impressive social life full of dates, friends and workouts, Brianna also balances scaling an annual male beauty pageant fundraiser and serves on the boards of two different non-profits. Needless to say, she’s manic about managing her Google calendar. Scroll on for her thoughts on the RIGHT way to cancel, and you’ll never appear flaky or unthoughtful again.

Cancelling plans with friends

This one might be the easiest and seemingly most forgivable, but make sure you’re honest and don’t feed the urge to fabricate a white lie. “Your friends will understand if you’re exhausted from the work day, just want to fit in a workout instead, or need some alone time,” Brianna tells us.

However, they WON’T understand if you tell them you had a work thing come up and they later discover you actually bailed because you decided on happy hour with your gym crush. We couldn’t agree more; honesty is definitely the best policy. If your squad is solid, they’ll get it. On the other hand, don’t make canceling on your besties a habit just because they love you enough to forgive you.

Ditching a date

If it’s a first date, you might feel inclined to bail last minute since there’s little risk involved. Or maybe you changed your mind about meeting your latest Coffee Meets Bagel match or would just prefer to spend your Monday catching up on the latest episode of KUWTK or GOT. Whatever the cause, Brianna says, “Really try to follow through with the plans (you made them for a reason!), but if you must cancel, ALWAYS do it with a respectable amount of notice and an explanation.”

Brianna shared a personal story too, telling us, “I recently canceled a bowling date fairly last minute, because a friend of mine had box seats to a Warriors Finals game. I made sure to be clear with my date and ask for a raincheck, and needless to say he completely understood. I made sure to follow up about rescheduling and to make it clear that I was excited to meet him.” Also, Brianna says, if it’s a date with someone you’ve been seeing for a while, there’s likely to be a little more room for forgiveness.

Skipping a casual work event

With a huge emphasis on culture and team building, more and more companies have started to schedule involved off-sites, after-work team-building events and happy hours. Though it’s obviously super important to be there to show that you care and you’re passionate about your work and team, sometimes it’s impossible to squeeze it in.

“It’s okay to miss work stuff every now and then,” Brianna agrees. “Be sure to let the organizer know not to expect you anymore — regardless of whether it’s an office happy hour, industry event, optional off-site or something else.” She also says that if there’s a Google calendar invite for everyone, you should definitely remember to update your RSVP so people don’t expect you. “This is especially important if they’re ordering drinks or food,” she wisely tells us.

Changing your RSVP for a ticketed event

Tons of events require scoring tickets in advance, and doing so obviously comes with the best intention of attending. These types of commitments range from smaller meet-ups to concerts, sports events and conferences.

Relying on her knowledge from four years of working at Eventbrite, Brianna fills us in on the proper etiquette for missing out. “If there’s a ticket involved and you’re going as someone’s guest, give them enough time to find someone else to go with them. There’s nothing worse than canceling so last minute that it’s impossible for them to recruit another attendee,” she says. Brianna also noted that though most event tickets AREN’T refundable, you can always check to see if they’re transferrable to someone else. In the best case scenario, you might still have a shot at filling your spot.

Missing an important milestone

Adulting brings about lots of important celebrations that you surely hate to miss, like acknowledging your friend’s big birthday, engagement, marriage, baby shower, promotion of her dreams and so much more. Not only does being a part of the celebration show your BFFs how much you care, but making memories totally sweetens your life and social calendar too!

So what to do when you’re totally unable to share the good times around a major milestone? “This is a tough one, but the more advance you can give your friend the better,” Brianna says. “If it’s a baby shower, a wedding or a bachelor/ette party, your friend is important to you, so your reason is probably already super valid. Just remember to be incredibly honest and give as much notice as possible.” We all know that things happen, and you’ll totally be missed, but most importantly, you’ll avoid hurting your friends’ feelings by following Brianna’s advice.

What was the last event you skipped? How did you handle it? Spill your story on Twitter @BritandCo!

If you’ve ever made plans with someone only to realize you really don’t feel like following through on them you know that it’s incredibly difficult to flake out on those plans without being a jerk. Your best option is to not make those plans, but if you need to bow out, here’s how to do it gracefully.

Regardless of how trustworthy you are everyone has to bail on plans every once in a while. Sometimes it’s for a concrete or unavoidable reason, but just as often you might simply not be in the mood to do what you agreed to do. Either way you have to start with the same thing: an apology.

Apologize and Make it Sincere

Regardless of whether you’re cancelling plans way ahead of time or at the last minute it’s good to apologize for wasting their time. While the event might seem inconsequential to you it’s possible your friend set aside a large block of time to hang out and you’re ruining that. Etiquette blogger Emily Adamiani sums it up like so:

Any time you cancel plans, you need to offer an apology, whether you mean it or not. You’ve taken someone’s time from them. They’ve blocked off their schedule or modified it so they can see you. Please acknowledge that.

Get the best damn sleep of your life
Boosted with 5-HTP, Chamomile, GABA, L-Theanine, Lemon Balm and Valerian Root

Suck it up and accept the fact you’re a jerk. Apologize honestly and they’ll be much more likely to take your side. Which leads us to our next tip. Photo by Andrew Yee .

Tell the Truth and Don’t Make Bogus Excuses

If you want to remain trustworthy amongst friends and co-workers you have to tell the truth when you flake out. Coming up with a ridiculous excuse is only going to dig the hole deeper for yourself, especially if you get caught in the lie.

When you tell a lie you’re giving them reasons not to trust you or worse, you’re coming up with a whole fiction you’ll have to remember. Instead just tell them the truth, no matter how stupid it sounds. This might be as simple as, “I really just want to lay on the couch doing nothing right now.” Of course, it might also be a true emergency in which case you should still tell the truth. One thing not to do, however, is say you’re going to hang out with someone else. Etiquette blogger Emily Post points out a really good reason why :

The person you’ve canceled on could easily feel like second best, especially if you give the impression that this new opportunity appeals to you more than spending time with her.

Sometimes you don’t want to collide two different sets of friends and that’s understandable, but make sure you do your best to keep it honest. Photo by Wonderlane .

Pitch a New Plan

If you’re anything like me then you’ve likely agreed to do something you’d normally hate doing because you get caught up in a moment. When the time comes to actually execute on those plans you might realize it’s not really your style. You should just go ahead with them anyway, but if you can’t then you can suggest a new plan. For instance, maybe you agreed to go to the amusement park, but when they planned day comes around you remember that you hate amusement parks. Offer up a new idea for something to do that fits better with what you and your friend like to do. If that doesn’t work, see if you can meet up with your friend afterwards.