OKC etiquette expert says respect is key when turning down or canceling holiday plans

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The surging pandemic and recommendations to stay home this Thanksgiving holiday are prompting some uncomfortable decisions and conversations.

Experts say whether you’re declining and invitation, canceling plans, or you’re hearing from a loved one that they can’t make it, what’s most important is to show one another respect.

“It all boils down to respect, everyone wants to be treated with respect,” said Oklahoma City-based etiquette expert Carey Sue Vega.

Showing respect is the key to etiquette, and in one of the most socially contentious and politically divided years Americans have ever seen, it’s never been more important.

“You can say just about anything you want to say, but it’s how you say it. It’s the tone that you use, and the facial expressions, with a smile on your face,” Vega said. “Eye contact. Eye contact is so important.”

She suggested opting for a phone call or video chat to break the news, rather than sending a text when possible.

Vega said it also might be best to keep your explanation simple.

“If you go into something that the other person may take political offense to, don’t go into too much detail,” Vega said. “Simply say, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t come, I’m doing my best to keep everyone healthy.’”

Using sentences like, “I feel uncomfortable,” “I might have been infected,” and “I don’t want to risk exposing anyone” will help keep it about the person declining the plans rather than making it feel like blame is on anyone else.

If a loved one is saying they don’t feel comfortable attending, Vega is urging people not to take it personally.

“This time of year we just need to dig deep and not take anything personal, and realize that we’re doing it in the right spirit, and we’re doing it to keep everyone healthy,” she said.

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