Etiquette expert Anna Musson, from the Sydney-based Good Manners Company, revealed how to tactfully pull the plug on plans when you’d much prefer a night on the couch.
“Start the day by saying ‘I’m not feeling well today’, and follow up a few hours later with ‘I’m really unwell, I’m not going to be able to make it tonight, I’m so sorry’,” she says.
“The sooner you know you won’t be able to make it the better, so if you can give them a week’s notice, do it.”
When doing so, careful consideration should be given to whether a text or a phone call is more appropriate.
Musson said a text is acceptable when bailing on a casual event with a friend who regularly checks their phone, whereas a call is more suitable for important meetings, or if the person isn’t known for keeping up with their messages.
She adds: “Remember, if you haven’t heard back from the other person, pick up the phone and call to make sure they got your message.”
At least an hour’s notice should be given for bailing on coffee dates, one to two hours for after-work drinks, six to eight hours for a dinner party and several weeks for a holiday.
Bailing less than an hour before any commitment – especially if the friend is already on their way to the venue – is the number one thing to be avoided, Musson says.
She adds that implications on the host, the friendship, and the tone of the evening without your presence should all be considered before flaking.
“Attending an event is often not about you, but about supporting the host,” Ms Musson says.
“Could you take a Panadol and push on to support your friend’s farewell – even though you don’t like her boyfriend?
“Many of us put our own needs and wants first and choose to forget that thinking of others is the greatest sign of manners and courtesy – what a great way to stand out.”
Dos and don’ts of flaking on friends
Use the ‘two-stage let down’
Give as much time as possible
Send a text for casual plans
Ring if you haven’t heard back
Forget to think about others
Text friends bad at checking phone
Give less than an hour’s notice
Text for important catch-ups