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Répondez s'il-vous-plaît, R.S.V.P.

French that translates to ‘respond please’. The Rev. Donald McCullough in ‘Say Please, Say Thank You: The Respect We Owe One Another’ says in some jest…"the number of people who respond seems to have declined to the last 2.6 percent of the population who are still in psychotherapy because they can’t escape the domineering influence of mothers who pounded manners and a lot of other things into them."

When you receive an invitation to a meeting, a reception or some other event, look for that RSVP. I admit guilt; at times I overlook it. When there is an RSVP, we often set the invitation aside and think we’ll check that date and time later to see if it fits into our calendar of life. McCullough believes the real problem is not procrastination, but results from the heart of discourtesy..self-centeredness. Maybe something more interesting will come up for that time slot so we should keep our options open.

Today I received an online invitation through a social planning Web site. The invitation was for a special meeting at an upcoming conference. What I find interesting about these invitations is the RSVP. Those invited can see who has replied they will attend (and their comments), who will not (and their comments), sometimes there is a ‘maybes’ section and always……the e-mail addresses of those who don’t respond.

This invitation came through Evite.com, http://www.evite.com/, a social-planning Web site for creating, sending and managing online invitations. Launched in 1998, Evite.com is a free, advertisement-supported service. There are other comparable sites.

With such online invitations, the whole world is watching….well, those invited anyway and they all know if you were respectful and did RSVP.

More about RSVP
About: The Meaning of R.S.V.P., http://entertaining.about.com/cs/etiquette/qt/tip122500.htm
HowStuffWorks, What does R.S.V.P. mean? http://people.howstuffworks.com/question450.htm

“Always do right -- this will gratify some and astonish the rest.”
-- Samuel Clemens, better known by the pen name Mark Twain, American humorist, satirist, writer and lecturer. (1835 - 1910)


Civility in the face of incivility is also the best revenge:

"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."
- Romans 12:20

I don't receive many invitations that require an RSVP. The ones that do ask for a reply really need a reply -- to plan food, rooms, seating, tickets (weddings, reunion dinners/tours, dinners, card clubs). And I respond, unless the invitation gets lost in the mail or cyberspace. I had one invitation that arrived a month late and looked like it had been stuck in a rusty mailbox. I called the hostess and apologized.

I do not, however, feel that it is necessary to respond to product party invitations. Inviting people so that they can buy something to help the host/hostess get a prize is not a social engagement; it is a sales pitch, no matter how it's disguised. When I host events like that, I don't ask for RSVPs. I call it what it is and am ready for any number of participants, just as a store would be ready for customers who hear about a sale through advertising.