How many times have you gotten a meeting invite and wondered if you really needed to attend? You may have colleagues going who can share a recap of the discussion. Or maybe you got invited to the meeting at the last minute and you don’t have time to review the agenda or rearrange your schedule.

You may worry about appearing rude or seem like you don’t care when you decline a meeting, but writer Alyssa Towns says doing so gracefully is a superpower in today’s modern work environment. It can save you valuable time, allow you to work on what matters most and still maintain positive relationships with your co-workers.

How do you respectfully decline a meeting? We highlight some of Towns’ top tips in this issue of PromoPro Daily.

Determine why you aren’t attending the meeting. Before declining, take a minute to review the meeting’s purpose and attendee list. You don’t want to miss an important meeting or one where you’re expected to share updates. Doing a quick review also lets you ask the meeting organizer questions about the meeting if you need any clarification, Towns says. If you decide it doesn’t make sense to attend the meeting, always know your reason why. Maybe you’re not the right person or maybe you have a schedule conflict.

Decide if you want to propose an alternative. Could the meeting be sent as a bulleted email instead? Now’s the time to ask, Towns says. If a meeting indeed needs to happen and you want to attend but have other obligations, try suggesting another date or time. Towns recommends checking the meeting organizer’s calendar (and other attendees’ calendars) to identify the most ideal timeslot. ‍

Don’t delay. Your time is valuable, and so is the meeting organizer’s time. Always respond to a meeting invitation promptly. This can go a long way in maintaining positive and professional relationships with your co-workers.

Add a comment. Towns says you can strengthen your response with an exchange. Instead of simply hitting the “decline” button, try replying with something like, “Unfortunately I can’t attend this meeting, but I’ll send someone from my team and catch up with them afterward.” Another option could be, “Thank you for the invite. I can’t attend this one, but I’m happy to provide my input via email.”

Remember that you’re not being rude if you decline a meeting. As long as you have a valid reason for not attending – like short notice or lack of relevance – it’s best to politely decline.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Alyssa Towns is a writer for the Get Clockwise blog.