Three better options:
All that being said, just because “busy” is not a word that generates closeness, that doesn’t mean you can’t communicate the same thing in a way that does. Here are some tips for telling your friends you just can’t right now, without hurting their feelings:
1. Be more specific
There’s an easy way to eliminate the vagueness of “busy” and that’s telling friends specifically what you’re busy doing. Of course, this takes more of your time and effort — something that can be challenging when you’re already really swamped. But it’s worth doing because the difference in how the message is received is significant.
Let’s say you invite a friend to your birthday party and she writes back: “I’d love to but I’m really busy!” But what if she had written: “I’d love to but Jack has a karate competition that evening and he specifically asked me to watch him this time. Have some champagne for me, though!”
Feel the difference? The second message explains your friend’s reasoning, gives context, and communicates that she’s still invested in your happiness. The first message, frankly, is a blow-off.