Author Topic: How Can I Politely Decline a Lunch Meeting?  (Read 6002 times)

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Ginger G

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How Can I Politely Decline a Lunch Meeting?
« on: April 02, 2013, 03:28:42 PM »
BG - I work in HR and as a result, I often get calls and/or from staffing agencies.  I probably receive 6 - 8 phone calls a week, plus as many emails.  I don't begrudge anyone an opportunity to make a living in an honest occupation, but quite frankly these calls and emails get quite annoying at times.  The fact is my company has very low turnover, and when we do hire we rarely use staffing agencies as we do a pretty good job of recruiting and hiring ourselves.  I try to nicely explain that to the staffing agencies but they ignore that and just keep trying, again I know they are just doing their jobs and that is fine.

A couple of months ago, I agreed to meet with one rep because her father had a long-standing relationship with our company (I am not personally acquainted with him), and she was very persistent about wanting to meet with me.  She seemed nice enough, and I'm sure her company is fine, but the fact is we just don't need them and I don't anticipate that changing anytime soon.

I received an email message from her a little while ago wanting to take me to lunch next week.  I actually am busy the two days she mentioned with a seminar on one day and a company lunch function the other day, but I know if I say that she will just suggest another day.  The fact is I just don't want to give up my lunch hour to spend it with someone I don't really know trying to push a service that my company doesn't really need.  I am often busy with work at lunchtime and the few free lunches I get, I like to spend by myself.  Is there a polite way to say no to this offer, or should I just suck it up and go?  I'm really struggling with this.

NyaChan

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Re: How Can I Politely Decline a Lunch Meeting?
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2013, 03:35:22 PM »
"Thank you, but I do not take meetings during lunch." 

dawbs

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Re: How Can I Politely Decline a Lunch Meeting?
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2013, 03:44:47 PM »
I'm afraid I'm not available during lunch.
Would next tuesday at 2pm work for our meeting?

TurtleDove

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Re: How Can I Politely Decline a Lunch Meeting?
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2013, 03:49:57 PM »
I would explain to her that you don't need her services and don't anticipate that changing any time soon but you will certainly contact her if and when it does.  Iin her position, I am positive this would not be the first time she's heard something like that.

EllenS

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Re: How Can I Politely Decline a Lunch Meeting?
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2013, 03:51:55 PM »
"No, thank you."  It is a complete sentence/paragraph/answer.

LazyDaisy

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Re: How Can I Politely Decline a Lunch Meeting?
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2013, 03:52:30 PM »
You are fine to decline for any reason you stated, or no reason at all. You are actually in the position of power here so I wouldn't give excuses about time or work load. Deflect her lunch invite by telling her when you are able to meet in your office.

Her: "Can you make it to lunch on Wednesday?"
You: "Thank you for the offer but lunch time is never good for me. In the next week, I have openings in my schedule to meet on Thursday at 9:00 am or Friday anytime between 2:00 pm and 5:00. Please let me know if you can make either of those slots and if you need directions to my office. I look forward to meeting you."

I add that last bit in just to soften it a bit even though you aren't looking forward to meeting. Let her say her peace and thank her for her time. You'll keep her business card on file in case you have anything. I wouldn't give too much information about the inner workings of your company either -- turn over rate or type of employees you hire or qualifications you prefer etc. That just encourages her to either send you resumes of her clients, or worse, poach your employees on behalf of other companies that she's headhunting for.
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SleepyKitty

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Re: How Can I Politely Decline a Lunch Meeting?
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2013, 05:20:09 PM »
You are fine to decline for any reason you stated, or no reason at all. You are actually in the position of power here so I wouldn't give excuses about time or work load. Deflect her lunch invite by telling her when you are able to meet in your office.

Her: "Can you make it to lunch on Wednesday?"
You: "Thank you for the offer but lunch time is never good for me. In the next week, I have openings in my schedule to meet on Thursday at 9:00 am or Friday anytime between 2:00 pm and 5:00. Please let me know if you can make either of those slots and if you need directions to my office. I look forward to meeting you."

I add that last bit in just to soften it a bit even though you aren't looking forward to meeting. Let her say her peace and thank her for her time. You'll keep her business card on file in case you have anything. I wouldn't give too much information about the inner workings of your company either -- turn over rate or type of employees you hire or qualifications you prefer etc. That just encourages her to either send you resumes of her clients, or worse, poach your employees on behalf of other companies that she's headhunting for.

POD to all of the above. And also, since this is likely to be a pretty useless meeting for you, I'd restrict the times even further by being clear when she needs to leave.

"I can meet with you on Tuesday from 2:00-2:30, or Wednesday from 10:00-10:30. Would either of those times work for you?"

Hmmmmm

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Re: How Can I Politely Decline a Lunch Meeting?
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2013, 05:32:07 PM »
"Thanks for the offer of lunch, but it won't be possible. As I mentioned in our earlier meeting, we do not have need for a staffing company at this time. I'll keep your information handy should that change. Your welcome to follow up with me in about 5 to 6 months if you'd like."

magician5

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Re: How Can I Politely Decline a Lunch Meeting?
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2013, 05:58:43 PM »
I would worry some about the ethics of accepting a meal from a company trying to get you to break your resolve to use their services, when you turn down everybody else.
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SleepyKitty

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Re: How Can I Politely Decline a Lunch Meeting?
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2013, 06:11:56 PM »
I would worry some about the ethics of accepting a meal from a company trying to get you to break your resolve to use their services, when you turn down everybody else.

I'm not sure what you mean by that. As in, it might be unethical for the OP to accept lunch? I can't see at all how that's possible. It's a business lunch in which one company is trying to sell their services to another company. That's pretty standard operating procedure, as far as I know. Waste of money, perhaps, but in no way is it unethical. OP can accept as many business lunches as she wants as long as she's not falsely leading on the other party (as in, pretending she might need their services just to get a free lunch).

LazyDaisy

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Re: How Can I Politely Decline a Lunch Meeting?
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2013, 06:22:32 PM »
Some companies prohibit their employees from accepting gifts from current or potential vendors (even in the form of food) to avoid any appearance of favoritism or bribery. Some don't have a formal policy but "frown on it" unless it can be proven that there isn't a conflict of interest, such as soliciting multiple price bids and choosing vendors based only on that. I imagine since Ginger G is in HR, she would know if her company has such a policy or culture.

Ginger, perhaps that is your most convenient opt out excuse. Your company doesn't allow it.
"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." Douglas Adams

Ginger G

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Re: How Can I Politely Decline a Lunch Meeting?
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2013, 08:47:43 AM »
Thanks for everyone's responses.  We do have a "no gifts" policy but it only applies if the gift is valued over $75.  I think I will use something pretty close to what LazyDaisy suggested above.  I'm pretty new in my position here, so I'm trying to do everything as correctly and business-like as possible.  Thanks again!!

YummyMummy66

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Re: How Can I Politely Decline a Lunch Meeting?
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2013, 08:56:27 AM »
Honestly, if you have no need of her services, I would not do like other people have stated and state times that you are available.

You do not need the services she provides, why would you waste your time and her time listening to her "talk" if you have no intention of ever using it?

I would be up front and let her know that you do not have use for her services at this time, but if you ever do in the future, you will call her to set up a meeting time, or you can state that you do have use for her services and you also do not see any need of her services in the future.  Your company simply does need to hire a professional to find applicants to fill your company's needs.

LazyDaisy

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Re: How Can I Politely Decline a Lunch Meeting?
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2013, 12:05:17 PM »
The problem is that Ginger G already agreed to meet with her and she should honor that part at least. A person's word is important. She also represents her company and shouldn't do anything that would give them a bad reputation. In my experience, I'm always careful of the toes I step on today, as they might be connected to the a** I have to kiss tomorrow. Situations like that happen quite a bit in business -- the person/business in a position of power can quickly turn into the one needing a favor.
"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." Douglas Adams

cicero

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Re: How Can I Politely Decline a Lunch Meeting?
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2013, 12:51:26 PM »
since you agreed to meet her, I would meet with her - but you certainly don't need to do this during your lunch hour. and if you *really* don't want to - then call her back and say "sorry, but on second thought I really won't be able to meet with you after all".

For the future - be as persistent in your "no" as they are in their pursuing you. My boss *never* meets with these agencies - and they do call (a lot). he has no need /budget for anyone so no matter how wonderful their services may be, we cannot hire anyone. when we do have a need to hire someone, we use the same agency we've been using for several years.

I understand you are new at this job - you need to set firm boundaries and stick with them:

"thank you for your interest but we have no staffing needs". later rinse repeat.


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