All Ears English Podcast - Was Your Invitation Rejected? How to Respond in English

This is an All Ears English bonus episode.

Was your invitation rejected?

How to respond in English.

Welcome to the All Ears English podcast, downloaded more than 200 million times.

Are you feeling stuck with your English?

We’ll show you how to become fearless and fluent by focusing on connection, not perfection.

With your American hosts, Lindsay McMahon, the English adventurer, and Michelle Kaplan,

the New York radio girl, coming to you from Colorado and New York City, USA.

When you invite a colleague out after work and they reject your invitation, what can

you say to still maintain the connection?

Find out in this special episode.

Hey, Lindsay, how are you today?

Hi, Aubrey.

I’m happy to be on the mic with you.

How’s it going?

Yes, I am great.

And I’m very excited for this special episode.

Every now and then we get to share with you guys a really good conversation from the Business

English podcast.

And this, what you’re going to hear today is so vital.

Such a vital skill.

Oh my gosh.

I know a lot of our listeners really want to improve that social communication side

of business, right?

Because business is not just people.

We are human beings doing business with each other.

We need to be able to socialize with our colleagues, right?

And that’s why we created our other business, our new Business English podcast, right, Aubrey?


So if you’re not following it yet, absolutely search All Ears English wherever you find

your podcasts.

You’ll see all three of our podcasts and be sure to follow the Business English podcast

as well.

These episodes are curated for you guys, very much focused on how we talk at work, how to

improve business English.

And today you’re going to hear one of those.

This is all about when you invite a colleague out, you’re taking a chance, right?

There’s a chance they might say no.

Maybe they’re not free or they don’t want to go.

And if that’s the case, the way in which you respond is so crucial.


You know, it’s funny.

It’s a big risk even in your social life outside of business asking someone, hey, do you want

to hang out, right?

Not even romantically, just a new friend.

It’s a risk as an adult, right?

And we fear rejection as human beings.

But in business, it’s even riskier because not only could we lose if they say no, we

lose face, right?

That’s kind of a little bit of that piece.

But there are things that we can say that could maintain that connection, right, Aubrey?

Exactly, right.

To keep the professional relationship, that connection, no matter what.

So today we’re going to share this conversation from the Business English Podcast, and you’re

going to learn exactly what you should say if someone rejects an invitation, if someone

turns you down.

So let’s go ahead and hear the episode.

Stay tuned for the end.

Lindsay and I will share our favorite phrase from the episode.

All right, let’s go ahead and listen.

Hey, Michelle.

So hey, I’m going to be in New York at the end of the month for a conference.

Can we get together for a coffee on the 25th at noon?

Ooh, Lindsay, I don’t think I can make it that weekend.

Oh, okay.

No problem.

We’ll do it another time.

Oh, that’s too bad.

Oh, you turned me down.





Well, well, today, guys, what are we talking about?

Michelle, what are we going to go into today?

I mean, sometimes we want to extend an invitation to someone, and what happens?

They say no.

They say no.

And the question is, what do we say next, right?

You say, how could you?

No, I’m just joking.

Yeah, you’ve got to be graceful about it, right?

Yeah, you’ve got to be graceful.

And it’s also not just to be graceful, also to learn something about the person and whether

they, like, what are their ideas about hanging out with you in the future, right?

So it’s actually a very useful step here in English that we need to know how to do.

I mean, Michelle, in your social life or professional life, like, how do you usually handle these


If somebody says that they can’t do something?


Like, what would you normally say?

Just to give a real, like…

I’d probably say, like, oh, that’s too bad.

All right.

Next time.


Something like that.


Next time is a very common thing to say, right?





So what does that mean?

Oh, that means, like, that you kind of put yourself – well, not to use another phrase,

but put yourself out there.

Like, you kind of – in a way, like, in a way, when you ask someone to hang out with

you, you’re, like, kind of vulnerable.

It depends on your relationship.

But, like…


Yeah, yeah.

That’s right.

That’s right.




That’s true.

Well, especially in the dating world, right?

That’s especially true.

Oh, my gosh.


Big time.

But, you know, but in general, you are – you’re sticking your neck out.

You’re not going to take a chance.


Another thing was Stick, right?

We did an episode about Stick last week.

Oh, we did.


And we didn’t come up with that one, did we?

But there’s so many more we could do with Stick.

Oh, yeah.

And we’ll do it another day.

We’ll come back to it, I’m sure.

And guys, yeah, the cool thing is we’re doing a lot of episodes on this, you know,

how to bring the workspace into the social space, like how to invite your colleagues

out to work.

We did that episode.

That was episode 701.

So you’re going to want to review that one first and then come back to this one.


So go to, type in 701.

And this is actually a question from a listener.

So let’s see, Michelle, would you read the question?

It’s quite short, actually, and basic, but that’s okay.

Straight to the point.

Wait, which one is – where does the listener email?

So Eve.

Eve is the listener here, and she says – well, I’ll just read it.

It’s okay.

It’s very short.


I can’t see it for some reason.

Oh, maybe it didn’t copy into the email.

That’s okay.

So it says, what to say when you –

I can’t see it.


Go ahead.

So Eve just asked us the question, right?


So exactly what we’re answering.

She said – or he, rather, said, what should I say when I invite someone out who’s a colleague

and they turn me down?


That’s just the question.

All right?

So Michelle, what would you say first here?

Well, it really depends on the relationship, right?

So is this like, I mean, a romantic interest or a colleague, like Eve said?

I mean, or, I mean, who knows?

It could be both.

Yeah, exactly.

So, you know, it’s going to be different depending on who is actually asking you to hang out.

But today we’re going to assume that it’s a colleague, okay?

And we can do a different episode on a romantic interest or a friend.

You know, we can go into all these niche topics later.

And but if you do want one of those situations, guys, you should write a comment in the blog

post for this episode and tell us what you want, okay?

So there’s two reasons to say something when they turn you down, right?

What are the two reasons for that, Michelle?

Of trying to say something when somebody turns you down?



Like instead of just walking away or kind of like saying nothing.

I mean.

I mean, yeah, you don’t want to just, I mean, you’re trying to maintain the connection,



So, you know, sometimes you’re just like putting out feelers to figure out if they actually

want to go out, but they’re really just busy or if they don’t want to hang out and they’re

just making an excuse, right?

And so like, basically, it’s you’re going to be able to tell based on how they react

to whatever comment you make, right?


So that’s why we say those are really the two reasons for like being strategic here,

guys, about your comment.

Number one is making maintaining the connection.

Number two is putting out feelers to see what they want to do, okay?

So I think this applies a little bit more in the dating world because you definitely

want to know, like, what are someone’s ideas on going out with you, okay?

So that’s where it would be even more important.

But, you know, we’re talking about connection here.

So it’s okay.


So what are some things that we can say then, Michelle?

When someone turns it down?

Well, first, I mean, really, you could just say, oh, that’s okay.

Maybe we can do it another time or maybe we can do it some other time.

Yeah, exactly.

And so if they really want to hang out, they might suggest another time right here.


And this is something to look out for more in the dating world, right?

But what should we be aware of?

Well, if you hear the word sometime without anything specific, right, like, oh, yeah,

maybe sometime.

That’s not a great sign.

Maybe sometime.

Oh, ouch.



Especially in American culture.

We talked a few weeks ago about, you know, is the invitation real?

That’s an episode we did a long time ago.

You can come back to, type in, is the invitation real?

But when you’re talking to American people, often they’re not going to say to your face,

no, I don’t want to spend any time with you.


No, I don’t want to.


They’re going to just go around.

They’re going to be very general.

And something they might use is, yeah, maybe sometime.

I remember there was an episode of Friends.

Who knows?

Maybe I spoke about this once.

Do you want to hear?


Yeah, I do, actually.

Well, it was one of the early ones.

And they were like, I think I did say this once, but it just cracks me up.

The group is like, I think Ross is moving, and he says to Phoebe, are you going to help

come over and help me move tonight?

And she goes, oh, I wish I could, but I don’t want to.

And like, it’s just so funny, because the reason it’s funny is it’s just like so direct,


Like, nobody would actually say that.

But she’s actually just saying the exact reason, like, oh, I wish I could, but I don’t want


I love that, because it really kind of right there, it kind of defines what comedy is,

what good comedy is.

It’s voicing what we all are thinking, but we’re too afraid to say, like, that is comedy

right there.



So we wouldn’t actually say that.

I don’t know anyone who would actually say that.

Who knows?

But exactly.



Most people would say, I wish I could, but I have to, you know, I have to study or I

have to do this.

I have to do that.

That’s so funny.

Oh, I love Friends.

Phoebe’s my favorite character.

Love her.

So that’s the big thing there.

Watch out for, yeah, maybe sometime or, yeah, maybe.

That’s even worse.





I mean, maybe it’s basically a no, I think.



In many ways.

It depends on the relationship.

But OK, let’s move on to number two.

What’s another thing you could say if the person says they can’t hang out with you when

you ask them to?

You can just say, no problem.

I just thought I’d throw it out there.

Hopefully at some point we can make that happen.


Now, that sounds a little bit more like assertive and more work-like, a little more professional

to me.

Yeah, I agree.

I think if I heard this socially, I would think it was like a little weird.

A little bit like trying a little too hard.

Would you agree?


Very much so.

Yeah, exactly.

Subtleties in the language.

It’s incredible.



Isn’t that interesting?

Although I do have a friend.

Well, she’s not exactly a great friend anymore because sometimes she was a little too assertive

in the friendship world.

She would take phrases that were more relative to the work world and she would kind of use

them in the friendship world.

It was kind of strange.

So she would say something like that.

Hopefully at some point we can make that happen.

I mean, it’s fine.

But it’s a little bit weird, right?




And then the last one we could say is, okay, well, good luck with the thing they have to


Like good luck with your class or good luck with studying or good luck with whatever it


I will see you in the office or I’ll talk to you at work.




And that one’s kind of good because once you’ve invited someone out, one approach that you

could do is you could hang back and wait for them to invite you out next time.

Just let it go completely.

And then if they invite you to do something, then you know that they’re reciprocating,

that they want to hang out.









So let’s do a role play, Michelle.

We’ll try out some of these.


Here we go.

All right.

So here we are.

We are two colleagues.






Here we go.


Hey, Lindsey.

We’ve been working hard this week.

How about we grab a drink after work on Friday?

Oh, Michelle, I’d like to, but I have early dinner plans.

Oh, that’s okay.

I just thought I’d throw that out there.

Maybe we can do it some other time.

Oh, speaking of that, are you free this coming Wednesday after work?

We could swing by that new cocktail bar near work.

Yeah, that sounds great.

Let’s plan on it.




So actually, in this role play, guys, we forgot to tell you, we’re going to do two endings.


It’s a two-for-one.


You get a two-for-one discount.

We’re going to do ending one, where the person actually does want to hang out, so the person

has a counter offer, right?

The person, like I, suggested another time, and that’s a great sign, right?

But then we’re going to do also ending two, where I’m going to react differently, okay?

So let’s try it again.


Here we go.

Hey, Lindsey.

We’ve been working hard this week.

How about we grab a drink after work on Friday?

Oh, Michelle, I’d like to, but I have early dinner plans.

Oh, that’s okay.

I just thought I’d throw that out there.

Maybe we can do it some other time.

Uh, yeah.

Maybe sometime.




You weren’t even trying to hide it.

I gave you the, yeah, maybe sometime.



And like the, uh.

Like, like.


That’s funny.


That was painful.

Oh, don’t take it personally.

It’s all right.

So sad.

That’s good.

So what we taught today, we can see it in this role play, right?

So again, as we talked about, guys, you should try to say something so you can get a response

from the other person so you can feel out what they, what they want.

And in this case, the first situation, I give a counter offer.

I give another suggestion.


And in the second one, what happened, Michelle?

You just said, uh, yeah, maybe sometime.

I mean, sometimes, I mean, it may not be that obvious, like with their intonation, because

they may try to be, be trying to hide it.

Like maybe they’d say like, yeah, maybe sometime.


I think I was a little too obvious.

Yeah, exactly.

Um, no, but I mean, it could happen like that.

It could happen either way.

But yeah.

So don’t.

If somebody says, oh, yeah, maybe sometime.

That’s still bad.


So don’t be fooled.

I mean, we tell, we talk about a lot of the show that intonation is so important, but

that’s the thing here that don’t be fooled by the intonation.

In this case, it’s really the words they’re using.


And that’s so sad, because I mean, I, you know, I don’t want people to think that, like,

I don’t know.

This makes me think of I’ve heard people say like that they think Americans are like a

little fake.





And so that I mean, I guess in that way, when we say that, like, that part is, I could understand

why someone would say that when we’re talking about this topic, right?



Actually, I bet we I wonder if we’ve done an episode on this, you know, are Americans




That’s a big topic.

And I struggle with that, too, because in some ways, in some like very superficial ways,

we are like this example.

But in other ways, we’re not.

I mean, right.

Those are all different.


And actually, yeah, when I just when we did this exact like thing, it just made me think

about, you know, when people say that, and like, in that certain way, I guess it’s true.

But it’s also this idea of just wanting to be polite.

So anyway, but we’ll get we’ll get it to another time.


I’m not sure that there is an answer, because the problem is like when people ask that question,

are Americans fake?

We’re always going to be interpreting it through our own cultural lens.

So if you’re someone in Russia who’s saying are Americans fake?

You might be saying yes, because you are talking through your cultural lens, your cultural

way of seeing the world.


You’re not talking objectively like we’re never objective.

No one is objective.


So that’s that’s the interesting part.

I mean, that’s a fascinating topic.

Michelle, I’m glad you brought that up, actually.


Really interesting.



So what do we want to remember today, Michelle?

Well, you know, don’t be afraid to invite your colleagues out.

So review, we said Episode 701, learn those phrases, learn these ones and just go make

some plans.

Yeah, exactly.

And don’t don’t don’t be afraid.

It is important to respond to if it’s a so-called rejection, right?

Respond to that to put out feelers to figure out if you should try inviting the person

out again.

They want to know where you stand.


Or again, as we showed you in this too, you could always just wait for them to invite

you out once you’ve invited them out.

It should be reciprocal.

So they should invite you out, OK?

So you can take your pick.

But good episode, good social skills, social work skills episode.

And yeah, comes down to connection, right?

It’s important to build that connection.


Yeah, for sure.

For sure.


Well, this is great.


Very good.

Guys, go to all ears English dot com forward slash subscribe.

Get 50 percent off your transcripts if you want them.

Very cool.

OK, Michelle.

This has been fun.

I’ll see you soon.

All right.

See you.


Take care.


What a great episode.

I love that conversation, especially because this skill is so important.

This could create a very awkward situation.

We need to be able to avoid that.

Right, Lindsay?

Oh, for sure.

Has this ever happened to you, Aubrey, in your life, in your working life that you,

you know, you invite a colleague out and they kind of just don’t want to hang out after



Oh, yeah.


Because I’m an inviter.

I’m always asking people, want to go to happy hour?

Want to do this?

Want to do this?

Both friends, family, coworkers.

And so inevitably, they’re either not going to be available or maybe, you know, they just

don’t feel like it.

I’ve definitely gotten some no’s.


And yeah, I have to have this.

You don’t want to eliminate any awkwardness.

I have absolutely used all of the phrases that we taught here.

Oh, yeah.

I think in general in life, it’s better to be the person that gets a lot of no’s rather

than be the person that never asks and never knows.

You know what I mean?



I agree.

I don’t mind.

You just have to be used to it.

Realize that it’s almost always not personal.




And then have that vocabulary to be able to like keep it, you know, no awkwardness, keep

the connection strong.

My favorite phrase, let’s share, our favorite phrase from this episode is to just say, oh,

I just thought I’d throw it out there.


I love this.

I say it all the time.

It’s such a native, natural way to let them know that you don’t mind that they turned

you down.

It’s not a big deal.

You’re definitely going to invite them again or they should invite you another time.


It kind of shows in a positive way that you didn’t have a ton invested in them saying



It was just a casual invite.

It’s kind of a step back a little bit.


But in a positive way, not in a passive aggressive way or a weird way.

And so this is going to let you come back to work the next day and feel totally normal

around that person.



There’s not going to be like, oh, I need to avoid them because that was weird.

No, absolutely not.

They could invite you to happy hour the next day.

No worries.

And you can say no, if it doesn’t work out and it would be fine.

They might say, oh, I thought I’d just throw it out there.

I love it.

So good.

We have to have these skills for business to have a successful career because again,

it’s not just meetings, presentations, writing, it’s also socializing at work.

So Aubrey, what should our listeners do right now to get more lessons and podcast episodes

like this one?

Yes, you guys find and follow the Business English podcast from All Ears English wherever

you listen, or you can go to slash try T-R-Y and check it out there.

You don’t want to miss these great Business English episodes.

Yeah, exactly.

If you’re already listening to this episode, you can just easily open your search bar right

inside your podcast player and just type in Business English from All Ears English.

And that’ll come up.

But if you’re in your web browser right now or somewhere else in social media, go to

slash try and you’ll get it that way.

However you want to do it.

Good stuff.

All right, Aubrey.

You guys always look for the yellow, right?

That bold yellow.

Look for the yellow.

Can’t miss it.

I love it.

So good.

Aubrey, thanks for hanging out today.

This has been fun.


Awesome, Lindsay.

See you next time.



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