Basic Etiquette

This past weekend my wife and two of her friends hosted a bridal shower for the daughter of another friend. Only about half of those who received an electronic invitation took the time to respond. Keep in mind all they had to do was click ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’

It could be this is a generational thing – another in the growing list of ‘millennials are ruining ______’ items.* I think it’s something else. We’ve lost the meaning of R.S.V.P. (Répondez s’il vous plâit: ‘please reply’) and the formality of politeness.

Here’s another example. One frustration in my coaching practice is when potential clients don’t give an answer about a possible engagement. Rather than say ‘This isn’t the right fit for me’ or ‘We’ve decided to go in a different direction,’ they disappear without a trace. While it might appear as if they don’t want to disappoint me by not moving forward, it’s more a comment on not wanting to feel badly themselves. In other words, it’s not about me; it’s about them.

In fact, in sales, ‘No’ is one of the best words you can hear. It’s conclusion. It’s closure. It’s time to move on. No response, on the other hand, is open-ended, leaving a ‘So you’re saying there’s a chance’ false impression and means ongoing follow-up.

Things would be a lot better if everyone did the polite thing: respond to invitations (Yes or No) and say ‘No’ when you decide not to move forward on a business opportunity.

*Note: I’m not a member of the ‘millennials are ruining’ tribe. On the contrary, I believe they’re going to be great.


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