It’s Time to RSVP to Life

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).


You may also like


  1. Great post – reminds me of two things:

    1) Paul Godfrey, former CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays always had time for me when I was starting out. It meant the world to me and was seriously influential in my career. I was absolutely no one with no experience but he would answer my emails/questions, take a call and meet in person on occasion. Huge.

    2) Probably heard this before on decision making…

    The first best thing you can do is make the right decision
    The second best thing you can do is make the wrong decision
    The worst thing you can do is not make a decision at all

    1. Lou Imbriano says:


      I am a big believer in your second point about decision making. It’s great to hear that Paul made time for you and helped you in your career. It’s always nice to hear when successful people give back. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

      My best,

  2. YES! Thank you for writing this post, another brilliant piece about the facts of life. The fact is people (including me) get increasingly frustrated not only when someone doesn’t respond to your query, but when they repeatedly fail to respond. Eventually, we end up not expecting a response, and we lose respect for that person. In the end, we likely distance ourselves from that person, if possible. And we stop asking. Which could be what that person wants, but if they’d just taken the time to respond, “No” or “I don’t know” or “I’ll think about it”, then we’d have the same result and positive feelings instead of negative associations.

    I always respond to emails and requests. Even when it’s yet another student with poor grammar asking me for a communications internship. I could easily let those slide, but I remember being the job-seeker, and checking my email repeatedly for a response (in the days before smartphones and push notifications!). I even send those 1-word “thanks” emails when someone confirms they will follow-up on a forwarded request. It’s part of being a good human being, I think, to acknowledge each other in those ways.

    1. Lou Imbriano says:

      Hi Naila,

      Responding is a reflection on you. In the relationship building business showing up goes a very long way. Responding is just like showing up, even if the answer is “no” the fact that you took the time to respond and deliver the message will build your equity in others. Many think responding is about the other person, in this case, it really is about who you are as a person. Keep replying and thank you for taking the time to comment.

      My best,

  3. Kathy Russell says:

    What a great post! Applies to life and business. Reminds me of a birthday party for an 8 year old in my son’s class. The young girl’s Mom invited the whole class using mailed invitations that clearly said to RSVP. Of course, I did, and so did 1 other Mother, but about 20 did not. My heart broke for the birthday girl and her Mom. Not knowing how many would attend, they planned for many and only 3 showed up. The vast amount of food made it obvious that not many came to her party. The Mom told me she was embarrassed, sad and mad, and had never heard of people not responding to a written invite. It’s not only courteous and polite, but it helps save people from having their feelings hurt.

    An another note, you refer to a system of organization. Do you have some tips, or maybe your system, that you would share?

    1. Lou Imbriano says:

      Hi Kathy,

      The angst in not knowing who is coming to your party always kills the excitement of the party itself. People have to think about how they would feel if they didn’t get responses and how miserable it would be for them leading up to the time of the event. It takes two minutes. Folks need to make responding part of their repertoire.

      As for the system. I personally use checklists for each individual project. If you have an iPad there are a few good apps to help out. One is Omni Focus, then there is Sundry Notes another is Evernote. Perhaps one of those would work. I believe they also are available for iPhone. I am not sure on the Android, but would be surprised if that format didn’t offer the same or comparable apps. Good luck.

      My best,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *