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I put together a lot of events among my friends, and so I invite a lot of people to things. One of the responses I get a lot when trying to invite people to things is "I'll check my schedule." This almost always ends up with me having to follow up with them, rather than them getting back to me.

I am known for being somewhat blunt around friends, so I could almost get away with saying "Check it now," but I would like a more gentle way to coax a more immediate -- or at least a more guaranteed--answer. What can I say to "I'll check my schedule" to get a more definitive response?

  • 2
    Welcome to the site! Is this happening in a direct conversation (like in person or in a phone call)? Or is it happening in asynchronous communication (like an email or facebook event)? I know if I said that to you in person I would mean I literally need to check my schedule for conflicts but can't or won't right now. In other contexts the meaning could be different. – Carl Kevinson Jan 29 at 18:25
  • Not an answer to your question, but invitation management websites will keep track of RSVPs and mass spam reminders to those who haven't replied yet. – Tobias Hagge Jan 29 at 23:49
  • Is their definitive Yes/No important in relation to how the event gets planned? – MonkeyZeus Jan 30 at 14:21
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    One point worth considering is that "I'll check my schedule" implies that the event being proposed isn't very high up their priority list... so far down their priority list that they can't remember of all the other things they'd consider higher priority. If it was clashing with something REALLY high up their priority list, such as partner's birthday party they'd been planning for weeks, they'd be able to give a straight "no" pretty quickly... and if YOUR event was pretty high up their priority list (so they'd re-arrange their schedule to attend) they'd be able to give a "yes" pretty quickly. – Steve Jan 31 at 12:52
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I'll check my schedule.

In other words: "I don't know yet if I'll come, but I don't want to say NO right now".

Possible causes for that answer are:

  • I'm not sure I'll have time.
  • I'm not sure I'll enjoy this.
  • I'm not sure I can put this on top of my priorities.
  • ...and so on...

The other person may think that it's none of your business to know the real cause, so they may want to "throw a curved ball disguised as a fastball (1)". In all cases, it often involves these two needs:

  • I need more time to think about it.
  • I don't want to hurt you right away if I say "no".

I noticed this pattern over the years, either with family, friends, or customers. Of course, you won't handle different persons the same way. In your case (friends), I'd just add:

In case you're interested and find time, please let me know by [ day / hour ].

By doing that, I give them a chance not to answer without being rude. No answer, no party, no hard feeling. I never had the impression of putting pressure on the person, and never noticed them feeling uncomfortable. Never negative feedback either, so I keep it that way...

Additional Note: some people are too shy, so being 1-on-1 while saying "no" to a direct request isn't an option. OP confesses being "blunt" sometimes, and it may be the reason why people delay their answer. My answer is heading that way because I've experienced/witnessed situations like this one, but it's also important to say that some people just actually need to check their schedule :)


1. It's a metaphor to baseball. I don't want to try to hit the ball (answer the question). It could be an straight ball (easy question/answer) or a curveball (very difficult to hit, so, a tricky question/answer).

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I understand how this feels, and I've been the person that says that they will check their schedule. I also often forgot and had the other person remind me. What I can say, it helps me to let me know why you want an answer now. If you do that, you create some sense of urgency with the other party. If you didn't, then I would indeed forget.

Two situations where this has been used that worked for me. If there is a reason, for example when you want to buy tickets for a show, you could use something like:

Could you check your schedule now? I want to get the tickets today so I'd like to know if I should get one for you as well.

But if there is no explicit reason other than that you would like to know, you could say something like:

Hey, could you let me know within an hour/before end of the day/by tomorrow? I'd like to have everybody confirmed by then so I can start planning.

This puts a sense of urgency with them and gives them insight into why they should check sooner.

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What can I say to "I'll check my schedule" to get a more definitive response?

If I may, I would reframe the question as,

What can I say to avoid getting an "I'll check my schedule" response?

... to which I would answer:

Set a deadline.

Simply add, "RSVP by [date]" to the event invite. At that point, it is assumed that everyone will "check their schedule", after which all of the (responsible) folks you invited will respond by your preferred date.

If the RSVP deadline is getting close and you're not feeling confident that those who haven't responded will, you can send another communication:

Friendly reminder to RSVP by [date]. Thanks!

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