Turning down an invitation to a holiday party you’re not just not interested in attending might be a great move for your mental well-being.
New research has found that politely saying “no” to events you’re not excited about during the festive season can be more beneficial than forcing yourself to attend numerous gatherings you’re not really thrilled about.
In a survey, over 75% of participants admitted they agree to attend events they’re not interested in, mainly because they’re worried about being judged if they refuse.
However, the study revealed that family and friends typically don’t mind as much as expected when someone declines an invitation. Moreover, turning down invitations more frequently can help prevent burnout.
A team of researchers with the American Psychological Association carried out five different experiments involving over 2,000 individuals. In one of these experiments, participants were presented with a hypothetical situation where they were either extending an invitation or receiving one from a friend for a Saturday night dinner at a nearby restaurant featuring a well-known celebrity chef.
Participants who were put in the position of receiving an invitation were asked to envision themselves turning it down, citing pre-existing plans and a desire to spend a relaxing evening at home. Conversely, those imagining themselves as the ones extending the invitation had to consider their friend saying no to the invite for the same reasons.
The study revealed that participants who thought about declining their friend’s invitation often assumed it would adversely affect their relationship, believing their friend would feel angry or disappointed and might not invite them again. However, those who were in the role of having their invitation rejected reported feeling much less disappointment than expected.
“Across our experiments, we consistently found that invitees overestimate the negative ramifications that arise in the eyes of invites following an invitation decline,” explained Dr. Julian Givi, an assistant professor from West Virginia University.
“People tend to exaggerate the degree to which the person who issued the invitation will focus on the act of the invitee declining the invitation as opposed to the thoughts that passed through their head before they declined.”