Frankly Speaking – 4/28/14

Dear Frank,

I am having a birthday party for my son next weekend and still have not heard from 8 parents, which is about half of everyone that was invited. The RSVP deadline already passed several days ago. Should I call them or assume they aren’t coming? Also, I would like your opinion on why people are not courteous enough to respond.

I am actually going to answer your second question first because I think it will lead us to the first answer together. You’re absolutely right that some people do not have the courtesy to realize they affect other people’s plans when they do not engage as expected. It is easy to say that this is the case for all 8 parents, but there are definitely other possibilities as well.

First, it is possible that some of those parents have been too busy to respond. Balancing family with work and other responsibilities can be overwhelming at its worst (and sometimes mildly stressful at best!), and unfortunately responding to a birthday party invitation does not crack the top of the priority list. That doesn’t mean they do not still intend for their child to attend and in fact still might.

It is also possible that, right or wrong, some of those parents may believe they only need to respond if they are planning on coming. Conversely, some may actually believe they only need to respond if they are NOT coming! This may be the case even if the invitation specifies what the respondent should do! We have a tendency to, even in the face of contrary evidence, assume that other people do things the same way that we do.

There are a host of other possibilities for why some people have not yet responded but a final possibility, and a highly likely one, is that they have simply forgotten. This may not even be related to being busy as mentioned above. In our world of constant communication (e-mail, text messages, snail mail – some people still use that, right?), we can get in the habit of thinking “Oh I’ll get to that later.” Through no fault or malicious intent, we put an invitation aside fully meaning to return to it. Sometimes, we just don’t.

I wrote in a previous article about reducing your frustration when it comes to interacting with other people. It is easy to blame others when they do something differently than you, especially when it goes against what we think is social convention (such as responding to an invitation). What we must constantly remember is that there are often many more potential explanations for someone’s behavior beyond what we first believe to be true.

With that in mind, it is perfectly acceptable to reach out to these individuals to double-check with them about their plans. I have a hunch many of them will be apologetic for not responding and/or thank you for reminding them. Personally, I very much appreciate (and sometimes expect) reminders about impending events.   The person who will become annoyed at this reminder will be in the minority, and may be one of the aforementioned individuals who silently assumed that you should know what their lack of response meant. Understand that this is where they are coming from, say thank you, hang up, and move onto the next call!

“Frankly Speaking” is a weekly segment on this blog that provides an opportunity for my readers to ask questions aimed at better understanding themselves, others, or their relationship with others. Each week I will select some of those questions to answer here. As you can see, the askers of those questions remain anonymous.

To submit a potential question for future installments, the only requirement that I ask is that you first become a fan of my Facebook page. “Like” my page, and then send me a private message with your question(s). Until next week!

Comments are closed.

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Google PlusCheck Our Feed