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I recently got a new job, and I don't talk with people besides what is needed for work, because I'm in a time of my life where I don't want to interact with strangers if I don't have to.

My colleagues sometimes ask me to participate some free time activity. Usually I can make some excuse, like "I'm elsewhere just that day" or "I don't drink", or if it's a vague suggestion I can answer like "maybe some day". But once the question was like "let's do X some day, tell me when you are free". And X was something I couldn't find any excuse why I can't do it.

I know that he asked out of politeness and meant well. But he is in a position in the company that he is expected to be social with people, and I believe he asked because he was supposed to, not because he wanted to be social with me.

So the situation is, neither one of us wants to go, but he is expected to ask and I'm expected to go. How do I decline this request?

  • 4
    In addition to what avazula asked you, a location (especially one as broad as all the nordic countries) isn't magically going to give all the insight needed. What is the culture like, is it 'weird' to never participate? Is it custom to just ask people to join you out of politeness? Would people find a direct response impolite? – Tinkeringbell Mar 15 '18 at 11:34
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It might vary depending on your native culture or language, but there are many who will not interpret "maybe some day" as a flat-out "no", assuming that is your intention.

If you feel your colleague was asking because it is part of his job, I doubt he would take offence to being told "no thank you". I've worked for companies where colleagues try to plan events like escape rooms or indoor rock climbing, which are not for everyone. It's been accepted when I respond with "I appreciate the offer but it's not really my type of thing" or "thanks but there are things I'll have to do at home". Something that at least shows you're thankful for the invitation.

I've seen some extreme examples where managers cannot comprehend that employees have other things they want to do outside of work but generally a sincere but appreciative response should do.

36

Be honest, and admit that you feel no urge to do X. There should be no problem with not participating in out-of-job activities. At the company I work there are activities around once a month, I usually join, 65% of the company never joins, and no one thinks that is a problem or odd. They just prefer to spend their evenings differently.

Also, if you keep deflecting the questions with a "maybe later" it's only natural that they will ask again.

4

Just as @Geliormth mentioned, be honest and tell them that you do not want to participate. There is no shame in not being interested in an activity. Most people understand this.

If someone insists and keeps asking you why, just tell them that you are not in the mood to do company activities or activities with colleagues, that you would rather do activities with friends/family...

4

The first problem I see with your question is that you've assumed this is an insincere request. Just because it is "part of someone's job" doesn't make it insincere. If I were looking for an employee to plan or schedule team building activities, I'd select one with a good understanding of what the team wanted and who was able to come up with interesting things for the team to do.

So, that raises the next question -- how to turn down a sincere, but unwelcome invitation. Because the answer to that question at least doesn't assume insincerity on their part.

Be honest. You mentioned your "life stage", and I would use that -- "I would like to do X, but I just started being married / raising a child / caring for a parent / decorating my new house / recovering from excessive joining, and can't at this time."

People value honest and sincerity. Be honest and sincere.

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When someone uses a sentence like "let's do X some day, tell me when you are free" to me, I usually answer, "Yeah, sure! I'll let you know!" and then I never let them know because I either forget (and I actually do forget) or I just don't want to and I tell them I forgot.

Mostly, people will stop pursuing it after I've "forgotten" about it two times. If they keep pestering me about it, well, then it wasn't such an insincere offer was it? In those cases, I try to set up a date and time if possible, and if not, I just go with "Well, I guess we weren't meant to do X together. Sorry!".

This works 99% of the time and the remaining 1% is family and they already know that I'm forgetful so they just set up a date beforehand and not just come to me with a vague suggestion.

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