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5 Easiest Ways to Flake Without Offending Someone

Expert advise using these tips if you need to cancel plans at the last minute.

With warm weather rolling in, many of our social calendars are filling up with party plans and outdoor get togethers. But we may not actually be able to keep every commitment we make. Whether you've accidentally double-booked yourself or you're just not in the mood when the day rolls around, there's a good chance you'll find yourself having to cancel plans at the last minute this summer—but doing so has the potential to ruffle some feathers. To to help avoid causing tension in your relationships, we gathered insight from experts on how to easily get out of plans with no problems. Read on to find out the five ways you can flake without offending someone.

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Make sure to apologize and show your appreciation.

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Flaking on someone with no sign of remorse is one of the easiest way to cause tension. Jay Serle, PhD, a licensed marriage and family therapist who works as the clinical director of The Ohana Luxury Alcohol Rehab, tells Best Life that saying sorry can go a long way in terms of smoothing things over when you call off pre-scheduled plans.

"Make sure you apologize for having to cancel at the last minute," Serle says. "This shows that you respect their time."

But it's still an inconvenience to the other person, even if you apologize. So don't forget to express your gratitude for them being understanding, says Jaye Harrison, an event planner and the founder of Parties Made Personal. "Thank the person for being cool about it, and acknowledge their hard work," she advises. "Showing respect and appreciation goes a long way in keeping a good relationship."

Exercise empathy for their emotions.

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Of course, you can't expect someone to immediately be understanding if you are flaking on them. "Recognize that canceling plans can be disappointing for the other person," Amber Shine, a certified sex therapist and dating coach, advises. According to Shine, you should be empathetic towards their emotions.

"Show empathy and understanding toward their feelings and any inconvenience caused," she says. "Assure them that it wasn't an easy decision for you and that you genuinely wish you could have attended or followed through with the plans."

No matter how the other person responds, it's important to always remain polite and respectful when canceling plans, according to Sameera Sullivan, a relationship expert who runs her own matchmaking business. "Avoid making excuses or being defensive, and instead focus on making the situation right by showing empathy and understanding," she says.

Tell the honest truth.

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You might think making up an elaborate story about why you have to cancel plans last minute will help lessen any offense the other person feels. But the opposite is actually true, says Cassandra LeClair, LLC, a communication studies professor working for the University of Texas at Austin. "Communication is key when canceling plans last minute," she explains. "It can feel scary, but being honest is important."

Being upfront about your needs instead of lying also shows respect for the other person, according to Kalley Hartman, LMFT, a licensed therapist and the clinical director at Ocean Recovery in California. "It helps avoid any confusion or frustration on either side as well," she adds.

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Offer to reschedule first.

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If you're flaking on a friend, it's your responsibility to reschedule. Don't wait and let the other person initiate a new plan. "Offer to reschedule for another day or time that works better for you," LeClair says. But according to the communication expert, it's also now your job to do all the planning and find a solution that works for both of you—otherwise the other person might feel slighted that they're having to do all the heavy lifting even after you went back on their original plan.

"People often get offended by last-minute cancelations because they may have invested time and effort in preparing for the event or activity," she explains.

Suggest alternative activities.

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If you can't reschedule a different time for the original plan, you should also offer up other opportunities for you and this person. "If possible, suggest another alternative activity that both people can do together," Hartman says. She also recommends suggesting an activity the other person might enjoy doing on their own during the time you were originally supposed to be getting together.

"This way, your flaking is less of a disruption and more of an opportunity for fun and relaxation," she says.

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more