I work for a small company (6 full time employees, including owner/ director, 1 part time employee), and have been there for almost a year. Occasionally, one of my colleagues will organise an evening out where we go for drinks/ a meal, etc.

Most of the time, I do go to the social events, and am happy enough going along. I get on well with everyone at the company, and the office is a pleasant environment to work in- even when the pressure is on with deadlines, workload, etc.

However, I have quite a busy personal life outside of the office- play a couple of different sports one or two nights a week, and am involved with running a youth club one night a week, other personal commitments another night most weeks, and every weekend.

Fairly frequently (two or three times a month), one of my colleagues will organise a social event- obviously checking everyone's availability first- and send everyone an invitation. As I stated above, I am usually happy enough to go along to the events.

I would say though that I have quite different interests to most of my colleagues- the company is a technology company, and our main products are a couple of software programs that we provide to a few companies (we do also supply some hardware). While I work as a software developer (have done for a number of years), and find the work interesting, I have absolutely no interest in technology outside of work. For me, the work is a means to an end, and I enjoy logic/ problem solving, which is why I pursued software development as a career, rather than because I have any particular passion for technology. This seems to be quite a different approach to most of my colleagues- they would enjoy reading up on various technologies during their spare time, or work on their own personal software projects, etc.

I often find at lunch times during the week, or when out for a meal/ drinks with my colleagues, that the conversation tends to steer toward technology/ software development/ other similar areas, which is fine, but as I have no interest at all in these things outside my professional life, it just ends up feeling like work, and I would rather spend that time playing sport/ catching up with friends/ doing something that takes my mind off work- just being able to switch off for a bit.

There does seem to be an expectation that we attend most, if not all of these social events, and while I am happy enough going along once every month or two, provided I am available/ don't have other prior commitments for when it's organised, I would really much rather spend my own time relaxing by playing sport/ catching up with friends, or doing something else that takes my mind off work, rather than with the people I spend most of every day with, talking about the same stuff we talk about every day... even though they are all pleasant enough, and I don't have any problems with any of them.

What is the best way to politely decline these invitations when I just don't have any interest in this sort of thing? I will obviously make sure I attend any 'important' socials, and go along every now and again, but what about when I have been to one recently, and would just rather not go again?


1 Answer 1


Since they check availability before setting the schedule, you can't just claim you're busy. However, you can mark off a certain number of evenings for yourself, and just be unavailable those nights.

Busy doesn't mean you're going out and doing something, nor is it something you need to explain. Perhaps decide that you'll be available on Wednesday evenings for work/social events, and if they plan it for that night, you can go.

The rest of the time, when they check for availability, explain that you are busy most nights now, but you're free on Wednesday, or free most Wednesdays, or however often you want to be free.

One thing you don't want to do is explain what you are doing. It doesn't matter whether you're teaching a class or watching tv - it's your time, and you can be busy doing it. When they ask what you're doing, just explain again that you're busy and won't be able to make it that evening, but you'll be happy to come when it's scheduled for a night you are free.

If you explain why, they'll judge to see if your reason is adequate. You need to just say you are busy or unavailable.

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