Last week I wrote about RSVP etiquette — a sore spot for me. As I responded to one of the comment on that post, I made a connection between my frustration and a common practice in our online world.
One of my kids is hosting a spring break party on Saturday (OK, yes, we like to party). She posted the invitation on FaceBook. As it turns out FaceBook fosters the lack of common courtesy I referred to in the other post. It makes it seem socially acceptable to put off giving a real response, and allows invitees to simply three response choices. They can accept the invitation, decline it, or simply leave a “maybe.”
Maybe? Really? I mean the party is Saturday? Are these kids on-call emergency room doctors? Is their Great Aunt Jennie on the brink of death? Are they terminally ill? They really can’t figure out whether or not they can attend a party for a couple of hours on Saturday night?
Or are they too lazy to find out if they can go, check the calendar, ask their parents? Are they waiting to see if there is a better party or event or maybe a real, live date — and they’ll come if they have nothing better to do? You know, just leave your options open?
For the socially confused, here is the proper way to deal with an invitation.
- Decide promptly whether or not you will attend
- Respond promptly to the host with a yea or a nay
Easy, right? But what if you actually, truly, have a legitimate maybe issue — and you really would like to attend if you can? Here’s how to politely deal with that situation.
- Decline the invitation
- Tell the host that you have plans and mention the circumstance
- Leave it to the host to possibly offer a late acceptance should circumstances permit
Suppose you are planning to go out of town, but you know the trip may be cancelled? You can say, “I’d really like to come, but we think we will be going out of town, though the trip is uncertain right now.” This allows your host the option of saying, “Well, if you end up not going, please come on over!”
This works in many circumstances. For example, you get invited to a party but your cousins are in town. It’s not appropriate to invite your cousins to someone else’s party, but you could decline the invitation, saying, “I’m sorry. I’d love to come, but my cousins will be in town that night.” That leaves the host the option to say, “If you’d like to come and bring your cousins, that would be great.”
Taking a few minutes to give a clear RSVP message is the courteous way to deal with an invitation. Take the time to do it right.