Having a quality social life seems increasingly difficult. The plans to which friends and co-workers invite us, usually require time, money or both. Normally, when we want to escape because we have not managed our free time well or do not feel like it, time and money are usually our excuses. There is little literature that studies this love-hate relationship with social plans, but recent research seems to have reached a conclusion about what is the best way to say no.
The objective of the study, carried out by The Ohio State University (in the United States), is to discover how others perceive this communication and how our excuses affect our relations of friendship. The research describes the effects of the way we reject plans by analyzing data from real conversations on Twitter and performing three laboratory experiments. The results come to a clear conclusion: saying that you do not have enough time can damage relationships, claiming that you do not have enough money can help us.
Receiving a wedding invitation can be one of those moments when you break your head to decide whether to go, not go and what explanation to give. The people in charge of the study gathered a sample of 327 couples who lived in the United States, who were planning their wedding and who had sent the invitations. They were asked how many guests had refused their invitation because they did not have enough money or time. On average, participants reported receiving the same number of excuses with one reason or another.
To have more complete information, they were also asked to indicate how close they felt to those friends who had made these excuses. They said that, before receiving the answer, they felt equally close to all the guests who had refused to go. But after receiving the reason, they assured that they felt less close to the guests who said they had no time than those who said they did not have enough money.
Why do friends take rejection worse if we say we do not have time? The answer has to do with credibility and with the ability of personal control. Couples who participated in the experiment found the excuse of money more credible, partly because they believed that the friend probably had less personal control over that aspect than about the lack of time.
"Because we think that others should have more control over their time, we think they should be able to find a space to do the things they really want to do," he explains. HBR Grant Donnelly, professor and doctorate from the Harvard Business School. "Therefore, it is more likely that we will take it badly that they have not taken time out for us: this affects how close we feel to them."
Actually, saying that you are more busy translates into the ears of the opposite in which you have better things to do or that is not your priority: the person hears that we do not value it. On the other hand, saying that you are going bad money is perceived as something honest, which generates more positive feelings and goodwill. Another option is to say that you do not have any strength or energy, because others perceive that energy is less controllable than time.