Refusal to say “I don’t have time” is twice as negative as “I don’t have money” (study)

【The refusal to say “I don’t have time” is twice as negative as “I don’t have money.”】


・Donnelly et al. of Ohio State University surveyed about 200 people on their reasons for turning down invitations (2021). They found that rejecting an offer by saying “I don’t have time” had about twice as much of a negative impact on the other person as rejecting an offer by saying “I don’t have money.

・If you use time as a reason, people tend to think, “Why can’t you adjust?” and so on.

・Indeed, in many cases, even when the response is “when it suits you,” which is a time-related reason, most of these responses are, in effect, nuanced, as in “I can’t go.



These are the quotes from the article




Time? Money? Negative impression? Think about how to say no.


Very interesting study.


How did I say no when I said no? I looked back with anxiety.^^;


Looking at the recent message exchanges, it seems that I am the most common rejection, as in “I would love to go, but my schedule is booked”.


Is this also, in a way, refusing to do this because of time?

Huh? Did I give a negative impression?^^;

It makes me uneasy.


Once again, I think about it,


When you receive an invitation, the way you turn down an offer, saying “My schedule is full” and the way you turn down an offer, saying “I don’t have time,” give completely different impressions, even if you are turning down the same offer for the same reason of time. The “I don’t have time” refusal may give the impression that “I don’t have time to spend for you.


For example, if it were “I don’t have time because I have work that needs to be finished by that day,” the impression would be totally different. I don’t think the impression would be that negative.

With this phrase, it seems almost synonymous with “the schedule is full”.


Think of it this way,

What is important in whether or not a refusal statement can create a negative impression is that the reason for refusal must be specific.


So even if the reason is “I don’t have time,” if it is specific, I don’t think it will be that much of a problem.


Then, express your desire to go. (Preface with something like, “I really want to go, but…”)

Furthermore, if you suggest another opportunity or another appointment, you will not give a negative impression to the other party even if you decline their invitation. (Like, “I can’t go on that day, but I’m fine on **that day.)


“specificity,” “desire to go,”  “suggestions for other opportunities.”

With these three elements, I feel that refusal would not give a negative impression.


These factors may give you an idea of the distance between them and you as well as the negative impression.


Also, when I read about the impression of a refusal letter, I thought,

‘letters’ -> ’emails’ -> ‘LINE and other messaging apps.’

Our written communication is becoming more and more easy and casual. Not only talking about the point of refusal, but also in this age of easy text exchange, I thought again that we should try to be polite in our verbal exchanges.



Does “I don’t have time” give a negative impression? I have tried to think about the factors that determine the level of negativity in refusals in my own way.


By the way,

Why is the refusal of “no time” more negative than “no money”?

I have come to the conclusion that it is because money does not occur naturally today and tomorrow, but time does occur naturally today and tomorrow. (The idea is that time can be adjusted for its natural occurrence.)


What do you consider to be the reason for the negative gap between money and time?

How do you usually decline invitations?


See you then.


To begin with, the above study is American, but if it were Japanese, would the data be different? I don’t think I’ve had many people say “I don’t have time” to me. Is it because I am surrounded by nice people?^^




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