While having goals for your social interactions is a bit of an odd concept, some recent experiences have reminded me that we can all use a refresher in the basic rules of human behavior. For 2010, I have come up with a list of anti-goals– the don’ts we should all avoid to build more bridges than we burn and to energize our social groups with more positivity than negativity.
- Don’t create cliques. When involved or living in a tightly-knit community or social group, invite everyone! Small social gatherings are a really fun time, but when everyone except 2 or 3 are invited, it becomes more of a clique than a social group. Not cool and hurt feelings abound. In my experience, it all works out—err on the side of more invitees. If there are people you don’t like, they will be dwarfed by those you do and their presence will not “ruin” your event. If you’re worried about food/drink expense, make it a potluck or BYOB with specific suggestions! I’ve recently attended a cocktail party where we each brought an hors d’oeuvre and a martini in a flavor we each chose. (Mine was pomegranate, by the way—highly recommend that one!).
- Don’t have “third party” social networking conversations. Do not hold a conversation on a third person’s social networking sight when it’s only with one other person who you may not have “friended.” Bring that to your own site. I’ve now seen this happen three times—two on other peoples’ sites and once on my own! Get off my wall if you’re not holding a general conversation! Especially when it’s a confrontation. OY!
- Don’t forget to RSVP. It’s on there for a reason. Even if there isn’t an RSVP, a courtesy email either yes or no is very helpful. Evite does help with managing this matter with it’s requisite emails reminding you to RSVP. I’ve often been a “maybe” pending a travel trip or a visitor heading my way—but most of the time those maybes turn to nos. So in the future I’d recommend erring on the side of No if you’re in the Maybe/not sure category.
- Don’t be shy. Try to accept as many invitations as you can! Even if the invitee is not necessarily a close friend. People like to meet new friends and interact with new people too. Some will be flops—that’s the world of parties/events etc., but some will be what I call Silent Sparklers—maybe the last place you thought you’d meet your next job connection or someone special. And always thank the host/hostess on your way out!
- Don’t take the hosts for granted. If you know of a big event being planned, offer to help participate in the planning or event itself. Chances are your help may not be required, but even the smallest tasks can often be handed off with a huge sigh of relief from the host/hostesses/coordinator. (Note: If you are the host and people do offer to help, have a list of small tasks ready to hand off, ex. bring ice, help invite people, etc.)
- Don’t complain about an event if you did not help plan it. Only offer suggestions if you are willing to help with the next event! I can’t make this clear enough! 20/20 Hindsight is a goldmine for all of us…..we don’t need the peanut gallery chiming in with complaints when they are not willing to pick up the ball themselves.
- Don’t send your invitations out at the last-minute. Get information out early enough!! That last minute “Oh, could you plan/invite/make…” for something tomorrow???!! Seriously—you need to cue people with as much advanced notice as possible. A week is desirable—a month is delightful! A last-minute invitation also makes people wonder if they were on the “B” list and are only being invited because someone from the “A” list is not coming.
- Don’t email important invitations and don’t distribute them at work. Events that occur once a year or once in a lifetime demand an old-fashioned mailed invitation! Email is just not the same and ruins the tone of the party. For work-related or work social group invitations where your spouse or family is invited, mail the invitation to the home address!! Work places can get busy, frantic, chaotic. The last thing someone needs to worry about at work is inviting their spouse to a social event.
- Don’t forget to help with cleanup. When at someone’s home, help clean up. Even if it means taking 1 or 2 dirty plates into the kitchen. As a guest, any help you can provide is a sign of gratitude for the meal/tea/coffee you’ve been served. And make sure kids’ toys are replaced in their proper spots before leaving. Small gestures speak very loudly to the host/hostess. They are greatly appreciated.
- Don’t forget the significance of a mailed thank you note. While any expression of thanks is welcome and appreciated, try to mail a hard copy thank you note for any significant event you attend. Including pictures from the event is extra thoughtful. A quick email or Facebook message is convenient but does not leave the same impression. It is definitely better to email or Facebook than nothing, however. (I need to take my own medicine here and remind everyone of the Ruly post on thank you notes!)
I hope that you don’t recognize yourself in any of the above don’ts but realistically we are all guilty of at least some of these things some of the time. Resolve to do better in 2010!
Is there a social faux pas you want to see remedied in 2010? Please share in the comments.