The meaning of R.S.V.P.

A Point of View

Melissa Pigott, Ph.D.

On May 8, 2018

Category: Business Frustrations, Careers, Common Courtesy, Getting Through Life and Work, Life Outside of Work, Work-Life

I mentioned in a previous post that many people with whom I am in contact fail to return phone calls, reply to emails, or thank me for things. Related to these discourteous behaviors is the failure to R.S.V.P. to an invitation. In the event the reader does not know the meaning of “R.S.V.P.,” it is an abbreviation for the French expression “repondez s’lil vous plait.” When translated to English, the meaning is straightforward, “please reply.” Think about it, “please reply.” What could be easier to understand than “please reply”? David and I have hosted many, many festive parties in our 30 years together, both in our home and in our office. All of these parties have included food, beverages, decorations, and flowers, at a minimum, and some have included live music. It should go without saying, but I am writing this post because my experience proves otherwise, that these parties require a lot of planning, as well as considerable monetary investment on David’s and my part. As a result, we always place “R.S.V.P.” in a prominent place on our invitations, then we wait, and wait, and wait some more for people to let us know if they are or are not planning to attend our party. We hosted a recent gathering in our home and were astounded at the number of people who never, ever, acknowledged their receipt of our invitation, even after we sent reminders to everyone from whom we had not heard after a couple of weeks had passed. Rudeness knows no boundaries; we never received an R.S.V.P. from someone with a Ph. D., who, in my opinion, should know the meaning of the term more than just about anyone else. There are always the people who say, “I will try to be there,” as if to say “I will be there if nothing better comes along,” as well as those who send a terse “Sorry; can’t make it” reply, but at least they don’t appear to fall off the face of the earth via their silence. The next time you receive an invitation with “R.S.V.P.” on it, remember, all it means is “Please reply.” So, take 5 minutes out of your busy schedule and reply! Please!

Another View

David H. Fauss, M.S.M.

On May 8, 2018

Category: Business Frustrations, Careers, Common Courtesy, Getting Through Life and Work, Life Outside of Work, Work-Life

The party which prompted this post was a few months ago, but this seems to be a timeless topic. Just this week, I read a discussion of the failure of people to R.S.V.P. in a nationally syndicated advice column. It is such a pervasive issue that the advice columnist just said “accept it” and advised the party host to guess at how many will show up. But, here is our attempt to press this issue a bit further. For us, a big ramification of the failures to respond is an excess of food and beverages. While some of these will keep, some will not. Melissa and I hate to waste anything, including food and beverages, so we find it very frustrating to plan an event in a world that does not always communicate well. With all the communications tools these days, it is easier than ever to R.S.V.P. And, some of our invitees are great, even sending, updates like “running late” or “something came up.” Stuff happens. But, deciding whether to order for 50 or 100 is a big difference! Professionally, we encounter this phenomenon as well. For our mock jury research we invite people to participate. Recruiting them is an expensive and time consuming task. Waiting for the planned number of people to arrive at the research is a stressful time for us. These people have essentially R.S.V.P.’d but, over the years, we’ve encountered our share of no shows. In what is a reverse R.S.V.P. system, our recruiters have to make reminder calls and keep emphasizing that they should attend once they have committed to do so. Social events don’t work like that, so the individual responsibility involved in making a call, sending an email or text, should be a minor task to help the world go around.

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