Buvette Masthead

We must NOT catch up for coffee

Emma Grey

You know how it is.

You bump into someone you know a little, or used to work with, or haven’t seen in a while, and before long one of you is gushing, ‘We MUST catch up for coffee!’ The other agrees, fervently. Neither of you actually wants to do it.

Harsh, or a little bit true?

“We must catch up for coffee” is a line. We mis-use it all the time, either by flinging it around with abandon, out of nervous politeness, with zero intent to follow through — or we misuse it by genuinely meaning the invitation but failing to follow through and make it happen.

I’ve changed a few things about how I use this simple phrase:

If I want to catch up with someone, I ask them when they’re free and book it into both our calendars then and there, or it slips to the bottom of the list of intentions.

If we happen to be free at the time, I invite them to a quick coffee NOW.

If there are several people who know each other, who are keen to catch up, I suggest a group ‘date’

If I genuinely don’t have the space or energy (almost always for reasons to do with me and not them), I say something else instead, like, ‘It was lovely to run into you!’ It means I’m not adding another unnecessary layer to the overwhelm I’m already carrying.

I love people, and adore spending time with old and new friends, and meeting new people who light up a part of me I didn’t realise was in darkness. For years, I’ve been ‘triaging’ requests from people who want to reach out in a business sense and have a chat, or ‘pick my brain’ — it’s simply impossible to say ‘yes’ to every one of these requests, when life is so full. But now I do that in my personal life too, and my relationships are deeper for it.

The ‘people pleaser’ in me took a while to get used to this, but she’s feeling pretty relaxed now and able to breathe. It’s only really been since I lost my husband that I’ve realised how this one simple tweak can help ‘manage’ your energy, when energy is a crucial resource for survival.


Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author