This may sound bad but please consider that I'm truly uncomfortable with these kinds of activities.

I'm a junior software developer, I work with an amazing team and I get along with everyone. I'm very thankful for the knowledge that everyone has shared with me.

However I do not feel the desire to have anything but a formal business relationship with my colleagues. Colleagues do not push for informality but management does push for "team building" activities, which to me seem really informal and unnecessary(think of beach volleyball). All my colleagues seem to understand that not everyone likes these kind of get togethers and some do not like them themselves but they find excuses not to go.

I've so far been honest with my manager about the reason I do not go to events with activities but I'm facing increasing pressure to go....

My performance and work is good, "exceptional" even, if I were to quote that specific manager. Which adds to my guilt when declining his invitations.... I'm pretty sure they cannot force me to attend since these activities are always outside of working hours, but how do I stop these requests/demands for my attendance?

All advice is very welcome.

EDIT Edit to the original question (in reaction to some welcome comments and answers, thanks!) to make clear that I do not skip all meetings outside working hours. Especially dinners or talks that do not require me to engage in some kind of activity I will attend. My colleagues know this and seem to respect my honesty, however my managers increased their efforts to make me attend.

To the point that one of them will walk into our shared office after I declined an invitation and be like "ConfusedEmployee you don't like X I'll make it Y think about it please!". Which on one hand makes me feel apreciated since to me it seems that his intention is good hearted. However it also gives me increasing guilt to turn it down a second time and besides that I also do not wish the activities to be changed for me since I will never truly enjoy them, so it seems more logical to me to find activities that my colleagues will actually enjoy.


6 Answers 6


You're under no obligation to go, especially if the activities are after work hours. If management is organizing events then you can simply decline, but they will keep including you, not much you can do about that. If pressed just say you're going to pass. If coworkers invite you, once you decline a few times they will eventually get the hint, if not just say you'll pass. I would refrain from giving an excuse as that means you would go but can't. If you say something along the lines "Thanks, but I'm going to pass on this" means you're not interested in the activity.

That being said, if you plan to stay around with this company, not going may hurt your chances of moving up, especially if you want to be a manager which requires people skills. Management may be more inclined to promote someone they know everyone else is comfortable with. Additionally, it may benefit you to go as that is how you build a network. Your work may be excellent but if I don't know much about your personality I may have reservations referring you to someone else. Don't think of it as creating a social relationship, but more of as a way to help your career.

  • This is a good answer - not just how to say no, buy why to say yes. Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 22:37

how do I stop these requests/demands for my attendance?

You probably cannot stop this. If the company continues to hold events, they will likely continue to invite everyone. The fact that you may have declined every event so far does not matter. From the company's perspective you may change your mind one day. Also, if they selectively invite employees they could be accused of favoritism or discrimination. All you can do is politely decline when asked to attend. No reason needs to be given for doing so.


I've so far been honest with my manager about the reason I do not go to events with activities

You already have the solution, just continue being honest.

All advice is very welcome.

My advice would be to actually attend one just to see what it's like, they can be fun sometimes. It doesn't obligate you to attend them all, but it may make you shift your perception of whether you want to attend or not. If you go in with the attitude that you want to have fun, you usually do. Also in some ways it can be a career boost further down the line to have some informal networking with those in charge.


Do not underestimate the value of team bonding exercises, they can help build valuable professional relationship that you can rely upon later.

If you don't enjoy the activities planned, you can always find activities that you enjoy, and propose it to the team that this is what you would like to bond over. It could be anything that you enjoy, which you think others may enjoy as well - like visiting a museum, watching a movie, or a trail hike.

So if you don't want to join some, that should be fine - bail out, but don't be that guy who skips all of them.


All my colleagues seem to understand that not everyone likes these kind of get togethers and some do not like them themselves but they find excuses not to go.

So find a similar excuse not to go.

Keep it simple. Something like "Sorry, I'm busy then." or "I don't do [whatever the activity happens to be]" or even "I can't." should work.

Eventually, folks will stop asking. Presumably, that's what you want.

  • 3
    It's kind of sad that the social convention is to find an excuse for what is the truth, especially when pretty much everyone knows it's just an excuse. I don't go to any activity outside of office hours because when I'll be on my deathbed I might think that I should've spent more time with my son, but sure as hell I'm not going to think that I should've spent more time with my colleagues.
    – ChatterOne
    Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 7:24
  • @ChatterOne I agree completely, although worth noting that people are generally much more understanding of "I have childcare commitments" than "I don't like doing this". I'm in the same position as OP, but I also noticed that avoiding these events became 10x easier once I had a child. Maybe that's an answer to the question: "have a child"!
    – Phueal
    Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 22:28

You should go to half of them because

management does push for "team building" activities,

I'm a developer, a management minor, but also an introvert. Team building is a goal of management. You should go to some of these events, or at least show up for an hour, have a beer and do some smalltalk. This is part of the corporate world. If you do not meet one goal of management (team building) this could look bad on your employee review, you might be passed up for pay raises as "not being a team player", passed up for bonuses, or advancement.

While I'm an introvert, and used to be very shy, I got over my shyness, but I will still need "down time" because I'm still in introvert. So I go to functions, try different things, and try to have a good time. I go there on my terms, but I still go there. I'm just lucky that my coworkers share my sense of humor so we do have fun. :)

If you are not good at smalltalk, then you can practice doing that, as I did. My shyness was due in large part to insecurities so I fixed them. It was a multi-year process.

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