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.

Girls apologizing

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.

Woman receiving bad news on smartphone

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!


(Photos via Getty)