As important as it is to socially oblige with a 'Yes, I can'; 'No, I can not,' and 'No, YOU can not,' warrant social graces too. And while it is very important to be positive, persuasive and not take no for an answer, it is as important to know when to concede.
Let's go through a few scenarios:
Scene 1: A rocking party. The night is going great, awesome music, well-dressed people, and a beautiful venue. It's near perfect. The hostess is glamourous, polite and slightly buzzed (or pretending to be so her guests are comfortable to follow suit). Group selfies – everyone wants to be in them now – are being taken in every corner and suddenly, the hostess notices her dear friend trying to slip out. She runs up to her and grabs her and drags her on to the dance floor. The friends giggle and laugh and the friend who was trying to leave smiles to herself, because, as difficult as it was for her to come this evening, she now feels that it was worth it. The hostess clearly would have missed her presence. She slips out fifteen minutes later, as the deadlines she had not met yet, needs to be met tonight. Her son has an early soccer match she has promised him she will attend, and her husband has just returned after ten days and they need some alone time together. It ends up being a perfect Saturday night.
What would have ruined it: The hostess could have carried on insisting that her friend does not leave. She could have locked the doors, held on to her and generally kept her trapped. That would have ruined it for her.
Scene 2: A designer is hosting an event. It's a small event, but very well planned. She has invited her most desired guests and they all show up. All except one. The 'one' who rarely goes to any of said designers' events, which confuses the designer so much, as she is otherwise such a supportive friend and client. The designer is so annoyed, a little hurt and thoroughly confused. The guest who does the 'no-show', for her part has no intention of not going. She has as always, planned her entire day around the evening. She has had a hectic day but has managed to complete all her errands and work in time. She has sorted out her children's homework and booked her hairdresser well in advance. She is all set. But come evening, her head is splitting and she is extremely tired. The thought of putting on layers of make-up, high heels and doing her hair, and then spending an evening making polite conversation with people she thinks well of, but is too tired to get to know better. She wants to go to the event, but she just cannot. And so she doesn't. The designer for his part, will continue to always invite her (she is supportive after all), but not force and not follow up like crazy. He will gracefully accept that she will not show. And in turn they will enjoy a long-term relationship.
What would have ruined it? The designer sending 500 SMSes, his PR team calling innumerable amount of times and worse still, him dropping her from his list altogether, or stopping to invite 'correctly'. Sometimes one needs to know who will play what role in your life. Everyone will not do everything.
It is ok to accept that some things will not happen. It is ok to say no, and it is ok to be declined. Learning to accept it will take us all a long way. So the next time someone says 'No, I cannot make it/ do it/ be there,' have a little think before you react. He/she may have another place in your life that matters more.
It is easy to buy the good life, but to live it with tolerant and ease, one has to have the wisdom to do it right.