To RSVP or not? That’s the question these days or, to put it more bluntly, “the big elephant in the room” that no one wants to address.
For years, the accepted wording on any social invitation as well as many business engagements has been RSVP, an abbreviation for the French term respondez-vous, s’il vous plait. The literal translation is “Please respond, you!” Quite clear, isn’t it? In fact, it’s pretty blunt and begs the recipient for an answer.
Why then, do so many people ignore the request? Common excuses include:
- Waiting to clear my “busy” schedule (in other words, not sure this is important enough).
- Have nothing appropriate to wear.
- Can’t decide (in other words, tell me who else is coming, first).
- They’re not expecting me to respond, are they?
The reasons people use to beg off on an answer vary, but can pretty much be summarized by the phrase “fear of commitment.”
Yes, you read that correctly. And it turns out that our fear of commitment wasn’t always the norm. In our formerly civilized society, people lived more structured and controlled lives. Multitasking wasn’t required, and people were honored and excited to be invited somewhere. That has changed. The reality of today’s world is that most of us are so involved in multiple events and happenings on any given day, and our circle of friends and business associates is so large, that we can view a formal invitation as just “another something” to draw us away from precious personal time.
But as any planner knows, one of the main elements to organizing a successful event is to know approximately how many people will attend. Why then, do we make it so difficult for planners by not giving a simple little response, be it positive or negative?
Here’s a final list of do’s and don’ts. When you receive an invitation asking you to attend:
- Ignore it.
- Show up unannounced.
- Ask who else will be there or try to get more details before responding.
- Provide lengthy details (aka excuses) about why you cannot make the event. Yes or no is all that the planner really cares about.
- Make a decision and let the planner know in a timely fashion.
- Stick to your response. Don’t be a no-show if you said you would go!
Remember that a little courtesy goes a long way in this fast-paced, multitasking world we are all trying to live in civilly together. However small it may seem, do your part by answering the RSVP.