Service of RSVP–Literally

August 1st, 2022

Categories: Etiquette, Manners, Medical Care, Medical Tests, Public Relations, RSVP, Unresponsive


Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

In 2015 I wrote “Service of Silent Guests,” about the folks who don’t respond to invitations or who do and then don’t come or who don’t and arrive unexpectedly. Never forgot the time several lives ago I tried to introduce two people. The male, a friend of my then husband, showed up at our dinner party with a date he’d neither mentioned nor asked if he could bring. This was tricky on many counts starting with the scramble to make room for another person at a very small dining table.

EAM, who comments on this blog, suggested another spin on RSVP. If you take the acronym literally–Répondez s’il vous plaît–it applies to all sorts of situations. In a world of “rush-rush” some seemingly catatonic actors can drive crazy those waiting or hoping to hear from them. Instances range from a doctor sharing test results and a vendor or repairman with whom you need to make an appointment to a reporter, editor or prospective employer you’ve reached out to repeatedly. Invitations to join a Zoom conference or to meet for lunch with a choice of several dates frequently seemingly land on deaf ears.

If you’ve chosen a mutually convenient date the next thing to be decided is the time. A response “Yes,” to the question “2 pm or 3 pm?” doesn’t do the trick. Nor does “OK” when you’ve asked for a piece of information or whether the other person wants to make the next move–or do they want you to do so.

It can help if you keep texts or emails short and if you need an answer, never address anything else in the communication. This tip isn’t perfect as some people don’t read. I’ve had some success by claiming an overactive SPAM file and would be grateful if they’d send the information again.

Enter an elevator in my apartment building and you’re almost shocked if a 20-30- something tenant replies “hi,” or “hello” to my greeting. As a kid, the first time I passed a stranger who greeted me in a hotel hallway I was taken aback but replied in kind following my mother’s lead. Guess such recognition is out of fashion even if you’re sharing a roof with others for much more than the length of a vacation.

Are there instances in which you are irritated by silence when a response is in order? Any tricks to get a reaction from someone you need to hear back from?

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8 Responses to “Service of RSVP–Literally”

  1. Helen Said:

    So here’s what I do! I have two parties a year to celebrate my friends and there’s an rsvp date. Let’s say I haven’t heard from Sally! Day after the date I call or text or whatever. I say I’m so sorry you won’t be able to come. I hope everything is okay. Then I get ….oh what was the rsvp date? I totally forgot. I remind them it’s on the invitation. Then they either say of course I’m coming or they stumble around for a minute thinking up a pitiful excuse as to
    Why they can’t come! Whatever the answer I personally try to end on a high nite. Honestly it’s really fun to put them on the spot!!!f

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Helen,

    Good for you for throwing events and being brave to follow up. It’s not easy.

    Today I have followed up with four individuals about disparate issues for which I need responses. One does respond and says he’ll fix a weeks old situation. It’s not fixed yet. Two were to get back to me last week. One is relatively recent so is not yet on my grrrr list.

    People don’t seem to respect other people’s time. Sigh.

  3. Helen Said:

    Oh give them to me please. I’ll be happy to be your hit person. If I don’t kill at least I can try for a response🤗🤗🤗🤗🤗🤗🤗🤗🤗
    I used to collect past due bills for a bridal design house….I can get a response from anyone! A man flew in from New York put cash in my hand and took his gowns. Also three days later sent me flowers saying he was so happy I worked it out with him.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Helen,

    I’m in stitches!

  5. lucrezia Said:

    My latest RSVPs have been at the local bridge club, where the affirmative reply is confirmed by requested payment. If a no show, the cost escalates.

    Tons of same arrive in e-mails from politicians inviting one to lavish parties, but at cost. Whether a response is called for, is arguable.

    Elevator behavior is in stark contrast to that pointed out by the blog. My 8-story building with some 100+ families, shelters a number of young people, most of whom are friendly. That goes for those with children. The house grumps are usually cranky old persons who look ready to snap at the slightest provocation. Like everything in life, there are exceptions.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    Let’s trade–we could use more older neighbors–grumps if necessary–and your neighbors might knock some friendliness into the the younger tenants here. I keep trying….

  7. Eileen Dover Said:

    I’ve shared many similar experiences. Phrases I use for email and text include “please confirm” and “please advise”. Voicemails I say “looking forward to hearing back from you”. Sometimes I’ll just make the decision for plans and ask “let me know if this works for you”. One pet peeve, is when I hold the door allowing people to exit before I enter, and no one says “thank you”. I say “you’re welcome” so that they can hear me. Try to be polite people, I’m not the doorman!

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Eileen,

    Oh my yes! How many doors I’ve held —waiting for someone to get to the door even if I’m in a rush—and the entitled so-and-so sashays in without a peep! Perfect example of RSVP.

    I like “please confirm”:and “advise.”

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