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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Jennifer's Gems > Social Etiquette

by Jennifer Brown Banks

Social Etiquette for Dummies
RSVP Means R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Times are taxing.

Seems everybody I know is overwhelmed and under-resourced.

The economy is uncertain. Unemployment is rampant.

While gas and food prices are simply ridiculous.

For me, this kind of climate has made it increasingly important to embrace what really matters: simple pleasures enjoyed with family and friends.

To honor this mindset, some time ago I initiated a fun time with my buddies called “FRIENDHIP FRIDAY.”  An evening held monthly to unwind and reconnect with those that allow us to let our hair down and be ourselves.
Successful Sistahs who I find to be positive and progressive, and whom provide nurturance, acceptance, and support.

We usually have a night of fun, food, spirits and lively conversation that goes on for several hours.

Although it’s an informal gathering and get-together, it requires a great deal of effort on my part, from coordination of everyone’s different schedules, to shopping, to clean-up for before and after.

 I love to do it, but in all honesty, it adds to the many roles I already juggle as a teacher, business owner, writer, homeowner, etc.

Get my drift? 

So here’s the million dollar question…

What is it with Black folks and their aversion to R.S.V.P. protocol?

I just don’t get it! (Figuratively and literally).

For the unenlightened, R.S.V.P. means Respond Si Vous Plait, and is merely a COURTESY that “cultured” folks extend to those who are gracious enough to request the honor of our company and business and personal affairs.

It’s not rocket science y’all.

Still…(back to my original point), at a recent “FRIENDSHIP FRIDAY” event I hosted, half the folks that did R.S.V.P. to say they were a “YES” , didn’t show up, nor did they bother to give me a jingle to offer an apology or explanation.

What’s up with that?

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that less formality and more technology have lead many of us to become lazy about etiquette and plain manners.

Although I love mingling with my friends, had I know that these folks would have been a “no-show”, I could have devoted my time to things that were also of great importance, or simply have enjoyed kicking back to the pleasure of my own company.

And I don’t care what anybody says, no matter how cute or “coiffed” you consider yourself to be poor manners is unclassy.  Bottom line.

So, here’s the deal.

In the spirit of enlightenment and edification, (and so folks won’t consider you as a “social misfit”, here’s how to address uncertain or potentially “sticky” social situations.

1. If someone invites you to something that you don’t want to attend, simply be honest and decline. Be a grown up.

2. If you’re not sure, express this as well, and let the host or hostess decide what is in his or best interest in terms of planning.

3. Remember the GOLDEN RULE, “Do unto others,”

4. Respect other people’s time and effort.  Everybody’s got a life, believe it or not.

5. Unless there’s no other choice, use the phone for important things like wedding announcements, funeral gatherings, etc.---not Email.

6. When at all possible, at least extend the offer of bringing something to the party.

7. Don’t bring an extra guest or two without clearing it first from the person giving the party.  It just shows good taste.

8. Be flexible. Unless you have provided instructions first, most folks can not provide a special meal to accommodate you food allergies or fasting restrictions.  If it gets that deep, bring your own stuff to add to what is being offered.

9. Never go into someone’s home giving decorating tips or critiques unless asked. It’s rude and tasteless.

10. Be gracious, and don’t gossip.

Well there you have it!  The top ten things to help you be a gracious guest and good friend in 09!

Bon appétit!


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Jennifer's Gems is a weekly column written by award-winning poet and writer, Jennifer Brown Banks. It is published every Wednesday. Click here to read her welcome letter.

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