So....I wrote a while ago about politeness theory and how it applies in certain situations, how we can use direct or indirect communication to certain effects based on our message and audience. I think when I wrote about politeness theory last, I wrote about it in the context of jobs.
The topic came to my mind again as I was talking with a friend about dating. We were discussing how the response "Let me check my schedule and get back to you" is pretty much code for "No, thank you," for both guys and gals.
All science and theories aside, I just have to say that unless you truly intend to check your schedule and get back to the person, this is a pansy, cop-out response. It's also dishonest and rude, which is probably my main objection to it. No one likes turning people down, which I'm sure is the biggest reason this method of refusal is used. It's an "I don't want to say it like it is, but they'll eventually get the message if I just don' say anything" response. "Checking your schedule," even for the busiest of people, is not a multi-day task. Don't insult the intelligence of the people who thought well enough of you to go out of their way to ask you to spend some time with them. For these "Let me check my schedule" folks, I have two words: grow up.
If you were at a restaurant, and the waiter offered you chocolate-covered brussel sprouts dipped in motor oil, would you say "Leave them on the table" when you had no intention of eating them, or would you just say "No thank you"? If you have no intention of eating them (and I hope you wouldn't :) ), then why leave the question in limbo? If it's something that's distasteful to you, why drag it out?
Most people aren't chocolate-covered brussel sprouts dipped in motor oil. Some might remind you more of chocolate, and others more of brussel sprouts, but regardless of whether you are interested or not, they deserve the common courtesy of a direct response to a direct question. "No, thank you" will do it, folks.