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I have quit my job due to various reasons, including office politics and overall inadequate reasons.

Because of this I am not interested in having a farewell party or celebration for my leaving.

How can I gracefully say "no" to this sort of event?

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Could you give us more detail on why you don't want this party? Would it just be awkward? do you consider it a waste of time? etc. –  Alpar Aug 11 at 9:27
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Although not this is not an answer you are looking for: If it was due to political issues, you could turn up and use it as a platform for bringing the issues the the front and making them more aware of them. –  tehnyit Aug 11 at 9:35
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HI A007, I have edited this to make it a bit more on topic here. If you can edit to include any more specifics on why you are not wanting to attend this or can confirm this is YOUR farewell party, please do - welcome to the Workplace! –  enderland Aug 11 at 13:10
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In the UK we call these 'leaving drinks' and it would be unusual for someone else to organise one for you. If you don't want one, just let whoever would organise it know. –  TheMathemagician Aug 11 at 13:48
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I would say that the family emergency you're going to have on that day will make it difficult to attend, so the question is rather moot. –  Kaz Aug 11 at 22:42

4 Answers 4

Funerals aren't about the person who is dead. That person is already dead and they're unlikely to get any deader.

Similarly going away parties, or farewell parties, aren't all about the person going away. They are about preserving connections and showing that there are 'no hard feelings'.

To you your quitting may be intended as a statement against what you perceive as a bad environment. But your coworkers and peers may not see it like that. To snub a farewell party isn't a way of 'sticking it' to the company. It's snubbing those peers and coworkers. You can, of course, do this. You're free to burn as many bridges as you like on your way out. But don't delude yourself, that is what you are doing - Burning bridges. And not only the bridges of those who you disagree with, but with many if not all of your coworkers.

To decide to do something like this you should ask yourself:

  • Is there no one at the company you respect?
  • What are the chances you will run into these people again?
  • Will you need any of them as a reference? Will you work with them in another situation?

If the answer to all of these is some variety of 'nope' or you just don't care then just simply state "I'm sorry I won't have time to attend a farewell party." There's absolutely no benefit in you attempting to explain the politics behind why(that will salt the earth after you burn those bridges) so I would keep the refusal short and simple.

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I would only add for the OP that they should try to contact the person who is coordinating the party to stop it, hopefully the invite didn't go out yet. Also, you may want to find the people you still talk to or want to network with and send them an invite for an after work gathering a bar/restaurant, culture permitting. –  Bmo Aug 11 at 13:22
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Perfect answer, +1. –  djechlin Aug 12 at 1:59
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I completely disagree with this answer (but not with the comment from @Bmo). If you feel strongly that the people at your job treated you badly, don't go to a farewell party and just smile. That is demeaning. Simply invite those people you do like to go out separately. –  Lembik Aug 13 at 5:08

How can I gracefully say "no" to this sort of event?

It would really be awkward to decline such an event after it has already been planned, and folks have already accepted an invitation.

Therefore, you should try to contact the person who is most likely to arrange such a party beforehand, and let them know you would rather not have one at all. I assume not everyone at your company receives a farewell party anyway.

Something like this might work: "I'd really rather not have a farewell party. While I appreciate everyone's thoughtfulness, it would be very uncomfortable for me. I hope you will understand and respect my feelings."

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Well it's also damned rude to plan an event for which you must attend - without you knowing about it first! –  baeltazor Aug 12 at 9:28
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@Aeron And yet surprise birthday parties, baby showers, etc continue to be popular events and are generally appreciated. In personal relationships, these can be great things - but as far as professional events go I agree with you. There's a world of difference between some work friends voluntarily trying to give you a good send off, and a mandatory HR event. –  brichins Aug 12 at 22:05
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I find that these sorts of events are always planned without telling you. This may of course be symptomatic of why one wants to leave in the first place. –  Lembik Aug 13 at 5:11

I worked for lots of politicians and they deal with this just about every day. How they handle this is to wait until it was almost too late for the organiser to pick a new date, but early enough so that no other expense had been incurred, then they'd call the organizer and say, "Sorry, but I forgot I have a longstanding prior commitment," (like a family event). If you can make a real commitment, all the better. Or worse case, if you still have to go, "peak it" by showing for about 15 minutes -- long enough to say goodbyes, and then leave early for you "prior." If you overstay, all the more "kind" of you... a win-win way of doing it.

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I'm about to retire after 8 yrs here, and have told bosses I refuse any sort of farewell party. I have no reason other than my personal inability to be in the spotlight for any reason. It is far too uncomfortable for me, and at age 67, am not likely to change soon. I've learned to avoid the spotlight my whole life, and am perfectly comfortable with that.

I do plan to go around the office and visit briefly with various individuals so to at least be polite and say goodbye, and maybe will send a few individual emails. That's it. No party, thank you. I also assured boss that no 'surprise' party would work, either, as I simply would not attend. I think he got the msg.

I see nothing wrong with this. There was no party when I got here and I don't need one when I leave.

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