Author Topic: Is it ok to back out of a commitment if the other person is being inflexible?  (Read 8724 times)

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LifeOnPluto

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Background:

My friend "Carrie" and I work for the same large organisation (but in different teams). We are white collar, salaried workers. This organisation is pretty flexible in terms of working hours. You can work your (approximately) eight hours a day anytime between 7am and 7pm. This means that if you want to have your working day from 8am - 4pm, or 10am - 6pm, you're allowed to. That said, most people do choose to work between 9am-5pm.

Further, our organisation is pretty easy going when it comes to letting its workers manage their own time. If you've worked from 9am-5.30pm on Thursday, no one cares if you work 9am-4.30pm on Friday (provided you've finished all your work, etc).

Current Issue:

Carrie is going on a vacation soon, leaving on Friday 20th. Yesterday, she sent me an email, asking if I wanted to meet for a drink at 5pm on the 20th, noting that she'd have to leave at 5.30pm to catch her bus to the airport.

I replied: "Sounds good, count me in! But how about we leave work a bit earlier, say 4.30pm, so we have time to enjoy our drink."

Carrie wrote back: "[LifeOnPluto], I never leave my desk before 5pm unless I absolutely need to, such as picking up my car from the mechanic before it closes. I am generally expected to work between 9am and 5pm."

I replied: "Our organisation lets us work our hours between 7am and 7pm, so if your supervisor is insisting you work between 9am-5pm every day, they're in the wrong. In any event. I'm sure no one would begrudge you leaving work slightly early on a Friday before you're going on holiday."

Carrie: "Nonetheless, I don't want to leave work before 5pm."

If we only have a 30 minute timeframe, I don't really want to have this drink with Carrie. It will take 10 minutes to walk from our office to the bar, and another 10 minutes to walk from the bar to the bus stop. That only gives us 10 minutes to choose our drinks, order, and bolt them down. I'd much rather relax over a drink, especially on a Friday. In addition, I believe I've been flexible with Carrie in the past (for example, when we've met for a beer, Carrie has said she'd prefer going for a coffee instead. I've agreed, even though I would have liked a beer). But now it feels like she's being inflexible with me.

In addition, there have been a couple of other incidents with Carrie that have frustrated me lately, so that could be colouring my opinion.

My question is: am I on the hook for this drink (after all, I did say "Count me in.")? Or is it ok if I back out of this, and say that that timeframe doesn't work for me?


perpetua

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I think it's fine for you to decline the invite if it doesn't work for you after all - and I wouldn't make all that effort for half an hour either - but I don't think it was fine for you to get on her case about what time she leaves the office. She told you that she didn't leave before 5 and you should have left it at that, really. But no, I'd say go ahead and decline - I would too!

missmolly

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I think you're fine to say: "Look, it's probably best that you're not rushed for time getting to the airport. How about we catch up once you're back, you can show me all the photos you took".

Another option could be for you to leave at 4:30pm, get a drink and she can still leave at 5, meet you there and frantically down her drink before she has to leave.
"Any idiot can face a crisis, it is this day-to-day living that wears you out". Chekhov.

Dorrie78

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I'm sorry to say but I think you were fairly rude. She extended a specific invitation, you accepted it and then tried to change it. When she declined to change it, you argued with her reasons why she didn't want to change it and now you want to back out altogether. Per etiquette, you need to go. I also think, however, that if I were you, I would just head over at 4:30 yourself and get a drink and wait for her to show up. That way you can relax over your drink but still honor your RSVP.

Two Ravens

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I'm sorry to say but I think you were fairly rude. She extended a specific invitation, you accepted it and then tried to change it. When she declined to change it, you argued with her reasons why she didn't want to change it and now you want to back out altogether. Per etiquette, you need to go. I also think, however, that if I were you, I would just head over at 4:30 yourself and get a drink and wait for her to show up. That way you can relax over your drink but still honor your RSVP.

I agree with this. It's a bit much to call her inflexible just because she won't break her personal edict about leaving work for your convenience.

perpetua

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I'm sorry to say but I think you were fairly rude. She extended a specific invitation, you accepted it and then tried to change it. When she declined to change it, you argued with her reasons why she didn't want to change it and now you want to back out altogether. Per etiquette, you need to go. I also think, however, that if I were you, I would just head over at 4:30 yourself and get a drink and wait for her to show up. That way you can relax over your drink but still honor your RSVP.

I agree with this. It's a bit much to call her inflexible just because she won't break her personal edict about leaving work for your convenience.

I agree with that part (as already stated above) and I think the OP was rude to badger her friend about leaving work, but I don't think that technically she'd actually committed to be there at 5pm since she was trying to suggest an alternative time that worked better for her, so I think she's probably off the hook as far as going is concerned.

Two Ravens

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I'm sorry to say but I think you were fairly rude. She extended a specific invitation, you accepted it and then tried to change it. When she declined to change it, you argued with her reasons why she didn't want to change it and now you want to back out altogether. Per etiquette, you need to go. I also think, however, that if I were you, I would just head over at 4:30 yourself and get a drink and wait for her to show up. That way you can relax over your drink but still honor your RSVP.

I agree with this. It's a bit much to call her inflexible just because she won't break her personal edict about leaving work for your convenience.

I agree with that part (as already stated above) and I think the OP was rude to badger her friend about leaving work, but I don't think that technically she'd actually committed to be there at 5pm since she was trying to suggest an alternative time that worked better for her, so I think she's probably off the hook as far as going is concerned.

I also think it's not a huge deal to bail since it seems like a fairly casual plan. Things come up. But the OP is the one backing out, and I think she needs to own it. I wouldn't blame the friend for not leaving work.

Dorrie78

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I'm sorry to say but I think you were fairly rude. She extended a specific invitation, you accepted it and then tried to change it. When she declined to change it, you argued with her reasons why she didn't want to change it and now you want to back out altogether. Per etiquette, you need to go. I also think, however, that if I were you, I would just head over at 4:30 yourself and get a drink and wait for her to show up. That way you can relax over your drink but still honor your RSVP.

I agree with this. It's a bit much to call her inflexible just because she won't break her personal edict about leaving work for your convenience.

I agree with that part (as already stated above) and I think the OP was rude to badger her friend about leaving work, but I don't think that technically she'd actually committed to be there at 5pm since she was trying to suggest an alternative time that worked better for her, so I think she's probably off the hook as far as going is concerned.
I do think that this sounds like a fairly casual plan, but the coworker specifically said 5pm and the op agreed and then tried to change the plan. That doesn't sound like the coworker was looking to negotiate. If the coworker said " want to go out for drinks after work" and didn't specify an exact time, then it's perfectly allowed by etiquette to negotiate. It's a fine line, but it does exist.


YummyMummy66

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"Carrie, I think I will take a raincheck on the drink for a time when we can sit down and relax and enjoy our drink.   Drop me a line when you return from vacation and we can see when we can get together then.  Have a great time!"

Psychopoesie

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Sound like the start of pretty normal exchange when setting up an informal catch up with friends, especially when there's only 2-3 people involved.

Yes I'd love to have a farewell drink but can we start a bit earlier? Movie Q isn't my thing, what about Movie P? Movie sounds great but can we do a later session and eat first? love to have a drink but can we try Y bar this time instead? Or can we do coffee instead of a beer? That sort of thing seems to be fairly common among friends, IME. YMMV.

It's not like asking someone to start their wedding half an hour earlier to suit you.

Usually all parties are ok with a bit of give and take until they're happy with the outcome. Sometimes it's not possible - someone will have a late meeting. Doesn't sound like Carrie is prepared to be at all flexible. She doesn't have to be if she doesn't want to. It would make me a lot less likely to want to go out for drinks with her though, particularly if she often insisted arrangements had to suit her preference.

If it isn't going to work, then I think it's ok for OP to back out. Going early as suggested by PPs is another option.



m2kbug

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I would probably say that a half an hour is not going to be enough time to get a drink after work and still get her to the airport on time.  I would suggest getting together after her trip and she can tell me all about it, bring pictures.  If there is alternative, like grabbing a coffee that's at a cafe or restaurant much closer, this could be an alternative to going to the other place for a drink. 

Whatever happens, would it be the worst thing in the world to have a 10 minute drink?  It seems she's looking for some company while she kills a little time.  I think it would be fine to cancel on this one.  I would lean on the excuse that the timing is too tight and we don't want to chance her missing the bus to the airport.  I would suggest something a little more convenient as an alternative if she absolutely can't/refuses to leave a little earlier. 

TootsNYC

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You don't have a commitment yet.

You are still in schedule negotiations.

So just say, "I don't think there will be enough time--it'll be too rush. So I'm going to pass. Have a great trip!"

NyaChan

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You don't have a commitment yet.

You are still in schedule negotiations.

So just say, "I don't think there will be enough time--it'll be too rush. So I'm going to pass. Have a great trip!"
"Carrie, I think I will take a raincheck on the drink for a time when we can sit down and relax and enjoy our drink.   Drop me a line when you return from vacation and we can see when we can get together then.  Have a great time!"

These have the right idea - you haven't made a commitment yet.  Just say it won't work for you - and I do agree with others that it wasn't really your place to argue with her about what time she leaves work.  I don't think that was inflexibility on her part.

AmethystAnne

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Why couldn't the 2 people go to the airport directly from work and have their drinks there?

It would be out-of-the-way for the OP, but couldn't it be looked at as an adventure? You guys could talk on the drive there, the friend wouldn't have to worry about possibly missing the flight because she would be early, and the relaxing over drinks would happen too.

Katana_Geldar

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Carrie is taking the bus to the airport, not driving.

I don't think it's rude to try and change the time and then decline.