We throw parties and events all the time; my wife Patricia’s biggest pet peeve is that many people do not have the common courtesy to respond to the invitation one way or the other. “Just tell us you’re not coming; it will not make us feel bad,” she recently said to her computer screen… then she mumbled another sentence that captured her frustration. She then looked at me and quite firmly said, “You need to write a post about how people need to RSVP to life.” She stormed off, leaving me like I was the one being scolded, but I was actually giggling; because she is right.
I believe many people just do not know how to make a decision, and find the best way to avoid the decision or the discomfort that comes with it, is to not make a decision at all. Ignoring the decision is their solution to not wanting to deal with the pressure of making a choice. The problem is that you can pretend, but you can’t hide. Not making a decision is actually worse than making a bad decision. We all stumble across indecision every day. How many times have you sent emails to folks and not received a response? Whatever method is used to communicate (calls, texts, letters, or email) you should always respond. I do not care how important you are or how busy you are, there is no reason that you cannot respond to any request.
If you are “important”, then the likelihood is that you have a staff, so responding should be a pretty easy delegation task. If you’re busy… well, I just do not buy that; everyone is busy, but there is always time to respond. Even if it’s typing these five words: “Sorry, can’t help this time.” Unfortunately, many people do not want to be perceived as unwilling or unable to help. They want a positive impression out there in society. Not answering is still a negative, no matter how you slice it. I do understand that, at times, an individual may keep asking and emailing you with the same or similar requests. Sure, at some point, responding will not aid the cause; they are obviously not getting the message. There are also times when strangers make requests that are laughable and not worthy of an answer, or your time.
However, when you know someone, even if you have met them only once, a rule of thumb should be to always respond the very first time there is engagement. I even think it’s good to do so with someone you haven’t yet met. I realize time is always a nagging and contributing factor, but maybe the real issue is not time; perhaps your system of organization is lacking.
When a decision or need for a response is put in front of you, the best way to approach it is as you would any task: straight on, grabbing the bull by the horns. This will put it behind you, get it out of your inbox and out of the piles of things you should do that clutter on your desk and in your mind. Face all decisions straight on, review the pros and cons in a thoughtful manner, then pull the trigger on your answer. Oh, and by the way, if someone invites you to an event or party, have the courtesy to RSVP (especially if it’s my wife).