Author Topic: How to decline an invitation from a colleague to get together “sometime soon?”  (Read 3803 times)

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ringingbells

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I recently graduated from a post-grad program. Toward the end of the program, I met a man who was defending his research around the same time as me and we chatted several times while at the university. I’m a woman in my early twenties and this man is at least twice my age with an established career. He’s offered me quite a bit of unsolicited career advice and has repeatedly made vague offers to take me to the business office he works in to meet some of the higher-ups, even though I have no desire to work in the field he’s in. These offers always entail some sort of social interaction with him (like eating), rather than strictly business.

While I appreciate the value of networking, his persistent approach is making me uncomfortable. I’ve chatted with this man on no more than four occasions, but he acts as if we are old friends, repeatedly suggesting that we get together. Some of the comments he’s made have also given me feelings of unease, such as calling the way I speak “cute” and saying that I have an athlete’s physique. If he were closer to my age, I’d be sure he was hitting on me. However, he’s also mentioned his wife and kids, so I can’t help but think that he really does want to help with my career but just doesn’t realize how uncomfortable he’s made me.

I turned down one of his lunch invitations by saying I was busy, and I didn’t make any indication that we should get together another time. Now, he’s sent me an email asking me to meet him for lunch or drinks “sometime soon.” I really don’t want anything to do with him anymore, but I also don’t want to be rude if he truly has good intentions. If he had specified a date, I would have just said I was busy, but since he’s effectively asking me to pick a date (and he knows I’m unemployed), I know that saying I’m busy would be a clear lie…

How do I politely respond that I’m not free and will not be free anytime soon?

Outdoor Girl

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Just because he has a wife and kids doesn't mean he isn't hitting on you.  And it sure sounds like he is.

Since you aren't interested in his field, I'd just be blunt.  'I'm not interested in seeing you socially.  Thanks for the invitation.'

It leaves the door open for business interactions if he truly was interested in helping you in your career but shuts down anything else.
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SamiHami

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It doesn't matter that he knows you are unemployed. That doesn't mean you can't be busy. Busy can mean that you are busy avoiding him. Or busy contemplating your navel. I would simply respond that "While I appreciate the offer, my schedule is quite full for the forseeable future. But thank you so much for the offer, and I promise I will be in touch if I find I have any questions about topic xyz."

What have you got? Is it food? Is it for me? I want it whatever it is!

Kaypeep

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It doesn't matter that he knows you are unemployed. That doesn't mean you can't be busy. Busy can mean that you are busy avoiding him. Or busy contemplating your navel. I would simply respond that "While I appreciate the offer, my schedule is quite full for the forseeable future. But thank you so much for the offer, and I promise I will be in touch if I find I have any questions about topic xyz."

I like this response.  And I agree with the others that he's got an ulterior motive and seems a bit creepy.  I think if he were offering career advice he's straight up say "Here's my card.  I've been in the industry 10 years now so feel free to contact me for advice." The comment about your athletic physique are quite inappropriate for ANY scenario, even if he's a classmate.  He may not be a danger to anyone but himself, feeding his ego by having drinks with a college student, but you don't need to deal with that.  Avoid him and don't think twice about it!

Mental Magpie

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My new favorite phrase: "No, thank you."  You can odd on to it, "I'm not interested in your field but thank you for the chance to network."  Don't mention your schedule as that will just give him ammunition to keep asking later down the road.  Decline with the thought in your head that he has only but the best of intentions even if you don't really think he does.
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

TootsNYC

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My new favorite phrase: "No, thank you."  You can odd on to it, "I'm not interested in your field but thank you for the chance to network."  Don't mention your schedule as that will just give him ammunition to keep asking later down the road.  Decline with the thought in your head that he has only but the best of intentions even if you don't really think he does.

I like these two sentences. And only those.

They don't leave any door-opening opportunities, and they indicate that you are *only* interested in interacting with him because of his field, and not because of any underlying friendship.

Also, I wouldn't suggest you think of him as a colleague. He's someone you were acquainted with in a specific situation that is now _over_, no? He doesn't even work in the field you intend to enter, so it's not like he's a potential future colleague.

That's not a colleague. That's a former acquaintance. That might make you feel more free to just turn him down.

(there's also the choice of radio silence--just don't ever answer his emails)
« Last Edit: July 02, 2013, 02:12:03 PM by TootsNYC »

TootsNYC

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However, he’s also mentioned his wife and kids, so I can’t help but think that he really does want to help with my career but just doesn’t realize how uncomfortable he’s made me.

Or, he's testing to see if you'll be sociable with him even though he's a married man. People get into affairs with married men in small steps. Heck, they get into perfectly honorable romances in small steps.


doodlemor

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How about..........

"That sounds like fun.  Why don't I call your *wife* and we will make plans to get together."

MrTango

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Just because he has a wife and kids doesn't mean he isn't hitting on you.  And it sure sounds like he is.

That's what it sounds like to me as well.

I'd go with "No, thank you."

jpcher

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While I appreciate the value of networking, his persistent approach is making me uncomfortable.

There is never any good reason to keep in contact with someone that makes you feel uncomfortable.


bopper

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Another idea:

"Thanks for the offer to provide some mentoring but I have that taken care of, thank you."

Pretend like this is all on the up and up.

perpetua

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Is there any particular reason why you have to respond to him at all?

I would just ignore it.

Hmmmmm

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I'm not really sure the value you'll get out off networking with him if he visit in a field you mare interested in. But you never know 5 years from now.

An easy be response.  Lunch sometime would be fine. I'm focused on job hunting right now so I'm not making any specific commitments right now though. I'll email you in a few weeks and let your know if mynah schedule changes. Hope all is well with you.

Then don't email and if he reaches out to you, just keep pleading your too focused on job hunt or hopefully new job.

ringingbells

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Hi all, thank you so much for your advice! I was wondering if I was just being paranoid, but it helps to have people agree that his behavior isn’t strictly professional. I decided to email him back saying that I have too much other stuff going on in my life to commit to getting together right now. I tacked on the “right now” part because I always feel so terrible giving explicit rejection. Hopefully he’ll take the hint and if he does ask again, I plan to just ignore him.

Zizi-K

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It sounds like you handled it perfectly. I think women especially are sometimes trained to be a little too polite, to be too afraid of rejecting or otherwise being up front about our disinterest or dislike in certain people. (I realize that's a funny thing to write on an etiquette board, but as many many people have said, etiquette doesn't require you to be a doormat!) I think it's important to trust your gut, the situation can really go south if you don't.