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Home > Emails > How to politely decline an invitation via email (5 samples & templates)

How to politely decline an invitation via email (5 samples & templates)

Lawrie Jones
Written by
Lawrie JonesProfessional Tech Writer
Updated on:Jan 04, 2024

Say no, I don’t want to go. That’s the core sentiment in every email declining an invitation. Thankfully, we don’t need to say it this way, we have to find a polite way to package the message.

When declining an invitation, you must be honest and bold, explain why you can't attend, and move on. It's easy to get stuck apologizing or making excuses, but there's no need. You’re a free person (we hope) so you can say no with the full confidence you’re doing the right thing.

It’s easier than you think to say no politely. We'll show you how to politely decline any invitation and show you how to do it correctly, with 5 samples including the following:

  • Politely decline a meeting invitation
  • Politely decline a webinar invite
  • Politely decline an event invitation
  • Politely decline an interview invitation
  • Politely decline a supplier invitation

Planning on ignoring that email and pretending it never arrived? Here’s why you should 100% politely decline an invitation.

Effortlessly Decline Invitations with Our AI Assistant

Before exploring our crafted examples on polite refusals, utilize our free AI email generator to effortlessly create courteous and professional email responses.

How to politely decline an invitation

If someone has taken the time to invite you to an event, it's right to respond. It's vital if you're turning the invitation down because doing so is rude and could damage your reputation.

The good news is that writing professional emails declining an invitation should take a few minutes (at most). Once you've sent the email, you can relax, knowing that you've done the right thing and that your reputation is intact.

Another reason for writing professional emails to decline an invite is that you'll avoid receiving endless follow-up emails that can fill up your inbox. Doing the right thing pays!

Declining an invite involves creating a formal email. Don't worry if you're unfamiliar with it; we'll show you how later in the guide. First, we provide 5 email samples to show you how to politely decline an inviation:

5 email samples to politely decline an invitation

To help you understand the basic building blocks of effective emails, we've included 5 samples here covering everyday situations you may experience. Whether you're declining a meeting invitation, webinar, or interview, we've got a template for you to try out.

Politely decline a meeting invitation

Declining a meeting request is a common occurrence, so learn to say no like a pro with us. In this sample, we provide a clear and easy-to-understand message that can be used in all professional situations.

Dear [Recipient's Name],

Thank you for inviting me to the meeting. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend due to a scheduling conflict. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

If there is any important information or updates that will be discussed during the meeting, please let me know so that I can be kept informed.

Thank you for understanding.

Best regards,
[Your Name]

Politely decline a webinar invite

This sample declining a webinar invite is similar to the sample above, but we provide some other suggestions for the meeting date and time. Sometimes you'll decline a meeting because of a clash, so this polite way to decline a webinar invite while maintaining a connection.

Dear [Recipient's Name],

Thank you for inviting me to the webinar. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and consideration. However, due to a prior commitment, I regretfully have to decline the invitation at this time.

If you have future webinars or events, please do not hesitate to extend an invitation. I would be more than happy to participate.

Thank you for your understanding.

Best regards,
[Your Name]

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Read also: How to Decline an Interview via Email (5 samples & templates)

Politely decline an event invitation

Events are great ways to network, but space is limited, so if you can't attend, you must decline as soon as possible. Here's our template for how to politely decline an invite to an event

Dear [Recipient's Name],

Thank you for inviting me to the event. I truly appreciate the gesture. However, due to prior commitments, I regret to inform you that I will not be able to attend.

I hope the event is a great success and that you have a wonderful time. Please feel free to keep me informed about future events, as I would be interested in attending when my schedule permits.

Thank you for your understanding.

Best regards,
[Your Name]

Read also: How to Politely Say No on Any Occasion [7+Tips & 20+ Examples Included]

Politely decline an interview invitation

Declining an interview is a bold move, but if you've decided to turn it down, here's how to do it politely. This sample of politely declining an interview invitation will keep your reputation intact.

Dear [Recipient's Name],

Thank you for considering me for the interview opportunity. I appreciate the time and effort you have invested in reviewing my qualifications.

After careful consideration, I have decided to decline the interview invitation. Although I am honored by the offer, I have accepted another position that aligns better with my long-term career goals.

Thank you again for considering me. I hope our paths may cross in the future, and I wish you the best of luck in finding the right candidate for the position.

Best regards,
[Your Name]

Learn more about how to reject an interview invitation here.

Read also: How to respond to an interview request & invitation (5 samples & templates)

Politely decline a supplier invitation

Suppliers will regularly message with offers and inducements to new and existing clients, but if you're not interested, here's how to politely decline.

Dear [Supplier's Name],

I hope this email finds you well. Thank you for reaching out to us with your offer. However, after careful consideration, we have decided to decline your invitation at this time.

We appreciate your interest in working with us and hope to have the opportunity to collaborate in the future.

Thank you for understanding.

Best regards,
[Your Name]

Expert guide: How to politely decline an invitation in an email

Your time is precious; if you can't attend an event (meeting or interview), you'll have to say so. Sure, you could just ignore the email – but that's not acceptable in business. How would you feel if you’d invited someone to a meeting or interview only to have them ignore you? Also, replying ASAP will avoid any pushy messages and less-than-polite follow-ups we’ve all received in the past.

As our samples should show you, professional emails share a standard format and are based on a similar message structure.

To politely decline an invitation, you should:

  • Introduce yourself
  • Express gratitude for the invitations
  • Politely decline (and explain why)
  • Suggest an alternative date/time/location (if you want to)
  • Sign-off

Once you understand the format for politely declining an email, it's easy to put them together. To help you, we've broken it down into 3 key steps, covering:

  1. Subject line
  2. Body copy
  3. Sign-off/next steps

Time is precious, and you have things to do, so let's start with the subject line!

Decline an invitation email subject line

Subject lines have to capture the attention and convey your message clearly. In this case, we're politely declining an invitation – so don't mess around; simply state that.

Say no with these expert subject lines for you to review and use:

  • I am unable to attend (details)
  • Diary clash (insert details)
  • Can we rearrange (meeting details)?
  • Please accept my apologies
  • Thanks for the invite. Can we rearrange?
  • Unable to make our Zoom call

Subject lines aren’t a place to get creative, but you must convey what you’re saying. If you’re tempted to reply to the same email chain, don’t. The person may assume you’ve agreed and not bother to read your reply. (That’s their problem, but why take the risk?)

Decline an invitation email body copy

The body copy is where we build the message and explain why we can’t meet. We will follow the structure of the message we outlined earlier in this article. It may seem like a lot, but we can move quickly through these steps to build an example.

Before we get into the details, personalize every email using a polite greeting and the person's first name. Get this wrong and you’ll already start your emails negatively.

"Hi (person's first name)" is fine.

Ready? Here's how to politely decline an invitation:

  • Introduce yourself

"My name is (your name), and I work at (company name)."

Check out how to introduce yourself via email.

  • Express gratitude for the invitation

"Thank you for your recent invite to (event name) on the (date)."

Check out how to say thank you via email.

  • Politely decline (and explain why)

"Unfortunately, I cannot attend as I am already committed to another meeting at this time."

Decline an invitation email sign-off/next steps

At the end of your email, it's polite to express gratitude again and (if you want, propose an alternative meeting.

  • Suggest an alternative date/time/location (if you want to)

"It's disappointing, as I would like to meet with you. Could we reschedule? I've provided details of my availability below."

You can also add your contact details and encourage them to message you (if you want).

"If you would like to call me to chat about arranging an alternative date or time, my contact details are (insert details)."

And that's all you need to do! It really is that simple to decline an invitation politely. Before you leave, include your name, signature and prepare to hit send!

Essential checklist: 10 principles to politely decline an invitation

Have you been invited to an event, meeting, or interview that you can't (or won't) attend? Then you need to politely decline it in an email – and we can show you how. These are some of the principles that you can use to politely decline any invitation.

Say it as early as possible If you can't attend, you really should respond immediately. They can then rearrange the event, meeting, or interview. It’s tempting to apologize, but unless you mean it don’t.

Always be honest in your emails but tactful, too. If you have a clash caused by another commitment, say so – but don't provide too much detail. Don’t let your messages meander, keep them short (as they’ve got other work to do).

This isn’t about email etiquette but personal behavior. Trust us, if you regularly decline invitations without good reason, it can damage your reputation. So consider how your emails will be received by those you're sending them to. Could a phone call be better?

If you do decide to write an email (as most of us will, let’s face it), proofread and check. Errors can be embarrassing, so check every email before sending it. If you're worried about your language skills, use HIX.AI's robust AI email writing assistant. It’s the world's most powerful AI writing tool, helping anyone and everyone write better business emails. Try it today and learn what it can do for you.

Conclusion

Don’t feel guilty about declining an interview. Don’t apologize too much, but equally important, don’t ignore the email. If you’ve read this far and understood what we’ve said, you’ll now have the tools and techniques to politely decline an invitation in an email.

TLDR: Don't take too long worrying about the content of your message. Instead, state that you can't attend, explain why, and suggest an alternative. If you're still finding declining an invitation challenging, use HIX.AI!

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