Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Manners Matter

So I talking the other day at work about manners--the little social graces that make life more interesting, pleasant and worthwhile--and I realized that for all of my talk about the subject i don't really hold situations as accountable as I should. Part of it is my WASP background and my tendency to avoid social drama but part of it is that i honestly don't understand some of the faux pas I see around me. i don't know it is time for a refresher course or if some people just never learned how to treat people properly.

That said--here are things that annoy me.

The hiding of social events.

I get it. Not every person can be included in every event; it's just the nature of life and popularity. Of course everyone wants to be included and most people would love to be able to have all their friends share in life moments. But it is not possible. It's just not and with that said--

It is really insulting when people try to "hide" events from others. Like 6 people are going to dinner for some "special" reason and somehow this event is never mentioned in front of the uninvited. I'm not talking about last minute weekend plans or spur of the moment Tuesday nights--I'm talking about planned in advance events where there is considerable effort being made.

And I'm not talking about a casual member of the social group being excluded--I'm talking about someone who would be considered to be an intimate in the group being left out. This is awkward because people talk about the plans--usually to try and make additional plans--and when 6 people somehow all manage to not mention a dinner, night out or event it just seems manipulative. "We couldn't include you and didn't want to hurt your feelings so we never mentioned" is not a defense. Lying to someone's face is ten times more painful then being told why it could happen. Most people are mature enough to understand limits on group sizes or event restrictions. Lying is just disrespectful.

Constantly discussing events in front of the excluded.

Now this might seem to run against what i just spoke about but they really are two different things. Let's say you managed to get an amazing table at a new bistro for four friends and everyone in the social group understand how hard that was to do. Let's say people understand exactly why they didn't make the guest list and everyone is fine with that. Okay then.

What would not be okay is constantly talking about the event in front of the uninvited--especially if it is something that the uninvited would attend. it's great that you're going to have this amazing dinner with the lucky chosen few but should the uninvited have to hear constantly about what you are going to wear? What you are thinking of having? How amazing the night will be? It's just rude and unnecessary. If it is something that requires tons of planning--have an email chain, a night out for coffee or conference call to work it out.

But what is even ruder is if you are not clear on who is going to be invited. There is nothing worse then hearing all the time about an event from your friends to one day realize that you are not being included. It is even worse if it is known that you are not apart of the social plan and people still ask advice, give details, or want opinions from you. Think about how you would want to be treated.

Being Invited But Not For The Company

Now this is a new problem I have run into--being invited to events for the sole purpose of giving something to the host. It's one thing to be invited to a huge wedding where everyone and their brother is going too but another to be invited to the engagement party and given the gift registry for the event when you are not included in the wedding. (This has not happened to me recently but did years ago with a friend of friend.) There is something tacky about including people for the gifts or to spilt the cost or share the load of the planning.

It is one thing to throw your best friend's birthday party in your home--it's another to be asked to "chip in" for a birthday party for someone you barely now. And when the events get bigger--house warmers, baby showers, weddings--it seems that people lose perspective when it comes to the even. If it is not someone who you could spend a day with one on one and have an interesting time then maybe you shouldn't be including them.

I just don't understand the idea behind these type of guest lists. I especially don't understand the idea behind the "you're invited to one part of the event but not the whole event". I understand birthday dinners at small dinners before all of your friends meet up at a bar and I totally get inviting people to the after party if the event is too small to include everyone. But if that is the case, tell people that. Don't have a dinner for 20 people and not include two but they can come out and buy you birthday drinks later... It's tacky and rude and says that you don't want them for the company. You want them for what physical gifts they can bring.

Now I am sure there are people who will find this post offensive or assume it is about them. This is not a rant about anything specific or some current event I am "covering up". It is just something that I have noticed happening around me and to people I care about. I cannot guess that everyone is on the same page or was brought the same way so by putting it out there--maybe that changes things.

Or maybe this post is rude?

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