The Number One Etiquette Violation! Are You Guilty, Too?
By: Maralee McKee
It’s great to connect with you today. Thank you, as always, for dropping by! Today’s post is a Reader Q & A!
It’s one you and I relate to. In fact, when I meet someone and they find out what line of work I’m in, they always want to talk about this topic first! It’s something that is so easy to do, yet no one seems to do it. The lack of it frustrates us, confounds us, and even makes us mad sometimes.
The odd thing is, everyone complains about it! This means a lot of us are annoyed that people don’t do it to us, but yet we must not be showing them the love in reverse either.
Have you guessed what this violation of graciousness and consideration is?
It’s failing to RSVP!
Take a quick look at our friend’s letter and see if you agree with her. I do!
Speaking of parties, I attended a lovely one last night at the home of a dear friend. It was a memory making evening spent in the midst of friends, food and fun. I enjoyed every minute of it! Thank you, Alana!
A Question We All Want to Know the Answer To!
Q. Dear Maralee,
People not responding to my invitations frustrate me. What is the etiquette of RSVP?
Should I write on the invitation ”Regrets only,” or should people call to let me know either way?
The upside to all of this is that my frustration has caused me to be much more aware of responding to the invitations I receive.
I’m with you! People’s insensitivity and rudeness to the efforts of someone extending hospitability to them is a top etiquette irk of mine. It’s also the number one etiquette complaint that participants share with me during my seminars and consultations.
RSVP translates loosely “Please Respond.” It means we need to let the person who invited us know if we’re attending or not.
How quickly should we respond? Within 24 hours.
Wow that’s fast, Maralee! What’s the hurry? Well, a prompt response signals that you’re excited to be included in the event. You can think of it this way. If I held up a $100 bill and asked if you wanted it or not, I doubt if you would wait two weeks (or forget completely!) to let me know if you would like to accept. Instead, you would probably very quickly say something like, “Thanks, Maralee! You’re the best!” That’s the same enthusiasm and quickness that is kind-hearted to show when responding to invitations.
(While getting dressed for a party, if you ever think “What should I wear?” you’ll love this post because its a stylish go-to cheat sheet, Six Easy Tips to Know What to Wear. And, what about what time you should actually knock on your host’s door. Five-minutes early to let them know you made their event a priority, or ten-or-so minutes late to give the hosts a few extra minutes to prepare? It’s a good question, and the answer is in this post, The Best Time to Arrive at Business and Social Events. Finally, once you’re at the soiree (or backyard bar-b-que) and you want to stand out for all the right reasons, here’s a post I wrote that will help you do just that, 7 Ways to Shine as A Party Guest.)
Some invitations will list an RSVP by date as a desperate attempt to get the guest to reply. Please respond long before the date. Not doing so sends a signal that you’re waiting to make up your mind because the event doesn’t thrill you on first thought!
What if you don’t know if your schedule is going to allow you to attend? Go ahead and call the host to acknowledge his or her invitation the day you receive it. Then ask if it would be an imposition if you waited to respond until you know if you’re able to participate.
Do I have to respond to every invitation? What about for parties that aren’t really celebrations; their ultimate purpose is in hopes that I’ll buy something being sold? Yes, even these should receive your RSVP within 24 hours. Normally, sales solicitations don’t need to be responded to, but since these are being held in your friend’s home, it’s gracious to let her know if she should set out a chair, provide refreshments, and purchase paper goods just for you!
What about writing “Regrets Only” on your invitation? People are no better at telling you they’re not attending than they are at letting you know they’re planning to join you. So, you won’t get a better count asking for “Regrets Only.” “Regrets Only” is reserved for huge invitation lists (fundraisers, events hosted by large corporations, etc.) where one person would be overwhelmed by the amount of correspondence it would take to keep track of who is and isn’t coming. For events with less than 250 – 500 attendees, the standard RSVP applies.
What do I do about the people who don’t RSVP? As the date approaches and you need to know how many people to plan for, it’s fine to call your guests. Script your conversation something like this: “Debbie, I’m making the final arrangements for dinner on the 25th. I hope you and Doug received the invitation we sent you about two weeks ago, and that you’ll be able to join us.” When you say it nicely, you’ll get your reply, and the opportunity to share a subtle reminder of the social contract between a host and a guest.
Special Grace Note
When a friend RSVP’s and shares that she can’t attend, bite your tongue to avoid asking her, “Why?” There could be a million reasons, and half a million of them she might not want to share! Asking, “Why?” might seem like you’re showing concern, but by doing so, you could put her in the position of feeling like she needs to tell a white lie.
If your friend says she can’t attend and doesn’t offer an explanation, the most gracious thing to say is simply, “You’ll be missed!”
Now, for those of you who pick up the phone to RSVP before the invitation ever touches the kitchen counter, you earn five gold stars!
For all the rest of us, let’s make it our goal to always call the same day! Our timely response is our outward expression of our inward consideration! Let’s just keep repeating, “Within 24 hours! Within 24 hours! Within 24 hours!”