Re-learning to say “no”. Facebook is the devil. I said “no”.

Over the last ~8 years, I have noticed that people are more and more afraid to say “no” in any form.

“No” can be anything from a simple “No, thank you,” to “it wasn’t really rape because I was too tired to insist ‘no’.”

Yes, the spectrum is broad.

My/Our Backstory

Disclosure: In all fairness, this is the most transparent example we have. It’s not the “worst” or the most poignant.

I had a co-worker/friend who we regularly invited to our Halloween parties. She was a friend from work that I’d love to hang out with in a more casual setting

For Halloween, people get lots of invitations for the big party nights leading up that holiday. We always held our party on “the Saturday before or on Halloween”, like everyone else did. Turns out, that’s her kid’s birthday weekend ~every year. And, since he’s a nearly-Halloween baby, they threw a big party with amazing decorations and a haunted house in their garage and invited every friend he’d ever met. I totally understood that she could “never” come to our party. Yet, every year, she’d neglect to RSVP (on eVite, no less! It’s just one click.) because she was afraid of disappointing me. I’d even get emails from her explaining why she couldn’t RSVP. Huh?

Um, no.

RSVP is an acronym for the French expression répondez s’il vous plaît, which translates to “please respond”. It is the guest’s responsibility to respond whether or not s/he will attend the event. This is because the host/ess need a head count for food and drinks and party favors and costume contest prizes.

By not responding, these potential guests cause a hardship on the host/ess and other guests. After all, who wants to host a party without enough beverages? Who wants to attend a party without enough food? Who wants to buy enough food/drinks for all the potential guests who might show up but didn’t let you know if they really will or not? Especially in this “double dip” recession, be polite. RSVP “Yes” OR “No”!

It’s okay to say, “no”.

Really, it is! It’s far preferable to ignoring the invitation. It’s even preferable to a separate email explaining why you can’t RSVP instead of just clicking the “no” button on the eVite. Not everyone can attend every event. It’s okay to politely decline.

Correlating Examples

One of E’s friends also held a Halloween party on the same weekend every year. He invited us, and we said “sorry, no, we have a party, too”. We invited them with the same response. We had the courtesy to RSVP to each others’ parties. If the calendars had ever fallen out of–or is it into?–sync, we’d have attended their party in a heart beat. And, vice versa.

In addition, we routinely went to other parties on subsequent or same weekends. We’ve partied on both Friday and Saturday, crawled next door to the other party on the same night, had guests from that party show up at our house, done full-on party swap with our guests and their’s (neighbors can do these things), and attended parties on the “other” weekend celebrating the holiday.

And, we still ended up in the bar district on Halloween night most years. With Halloween, it’s totally doable.

Recently

Especially since we are in a new market, I’ve said yes to a lot of volunteer opportunities. I’ve donated gift certificates, photographed events for free, and given a lot of my time and/or talents to a wide variety of events. All for the sake of getting AYW and L Luza in front of people who might offer or refer business to me.

One example: After running an online promotion, I was asked to donate to a school. While I was happy to do it, it was a lot more work than I anticipated with regard to the setup and pickup. I have no idea who bought my gift certificate. I still–more than a year later–don’t know what they made. I can’t blog their event and help showcase them because I don’t have even the most basic of details. And without a claim on the gift certificate, I didn’t make any money on print sales to make up for the donation hassle I experienced with this “charity”.

There have been other examples, too (including one where I hauled trash) where I was “invisible”.

To Be Fair

There are also shining examples of great donor/volunteer experiences. I’ve been over-the-top recognized, gLously thanked, and truly brought to tears with adoration and appreciation. This is not about those! This is about the opposite experiences. 😉

For two years, now, I’ve offered to shoot the Austin Alumnae Zeta Tau Alpha event and put a gift certificate in their auction. Every single part of it was smooth, all recognition was given, and I landed wonderful new clients, too! My sisters came through for me.

Why: facebook.

I believe that facebook is a large–and the most recent–part of the reason for this dodgy behavior. No longer do people have to say “no” to things. They can just ignore them indefinitely. In fact, facebook changed “Become a Fan” to “Like” because the language implies less commitment. Really? It’s a commitment to be a fan, now? And, facebook changed the verbiage for declining a friend from “no” to “ignore (for now)”. No wonder no one can RSVP “yes” or “no” to an event. <sarcasm>Thank you</sarcasm>, facebook, you’ve just dumbed-down basic commitment to the level we all feared. So, when did facebook get to dictate the standard for other etiquette? How it happens on facebook is not a fair comparison to how it will/might happen in real life, especially if postage and catering are involved!

Resolution

My Resolution–consider this a Spring Cleaning–is that I will say: “no, thank you”, “no”, “nope”, “nuh uh”, and (again) “no” more often. I will politely decline any opportunity that I feel won’t give me (or my business) proper billing. I give a polite “No, thank you,” to any group that doesn’t have good web/blog and social media presences. I need to get fair marketing mileage out of any donation.

Curious?

If you care how I plan to meter this out for AYW, you can read my donations expectations. I plan to be a lot more strict than that with my personal obligations. After all, time I spend with E, family, and friends is priceless.

The Future

Are we so afraid to politely say “yes” or “no” that we’ll stop having any kind of commitment? Will weddings and other major events become a free-for-all of an unknown number of guests that affects a great deal of expensive logistics? Will casual get-togethers become logistical nightmares?

The Telling Past

Dare I recall the story of the “usual” crowd being invited to our regular Tuesday Ninfa’s gathering. (We averaged 8-10 people, but that week, we changed the count with the hostess far too many times, until it was over 20. After that night, they made a rule: 8 maximum on Tuesdays. We were that much of a burden on their operations and processes. How embarrassing! If we’d know we’d be a group of 20+, I’d have called them that afternoon to ask for the side room.)

Finally

If we can’t say “yes” and mean it, how will we ever accomplish anything? If we can’t say “no” and mean it, how will each of us ever craft out time for ourselves or our other obligations?

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