Lessons on Being Polite


that square thing you’re always texting on, it happens to make phone calls too.

1. How to Cancel Plans

No matter how spill-proof your plans with a bestie might seem, cancellations are inevitable. The flu, the fam, the unpredictable future! Murphy’s Law, if something can go wrong, it will. Depending on the relationship and how new or fragile it is, there is however a right way and a wrong way to broach the subject.

Unless you’ve contracted the flu, don’t text it. I received an email the other day where the sender asked me if I still used the telephone. Is this really what we’ve come to? Make the effort to show said old-friend, new-friend, true-friend, blue-friend, that bailing makes you feel bad enough to pick up the ole Alexander Graham Bell-ephone.

Don’t tell them something has come up. I know this is considered “polite” in certain Real Housewives social circles, but obviously something has come up. If it’s too personal, just say so without relying on super broad generalizations that tend to feel super insulting (read: patronizing) and will leave the ditched wondering what ‘something’ is better than them.

Tell the truth–even if you’re ditching your friend for a dude, or a dude for your friend–there are ways to sugarcoat without lying.

Try to give reasonable notice, about 2 days if possible. Simply not showing up is a serious offense and inexcusable. Your mother would shirk in horror.

Always offer to reschedule, that way they know you aren’t blowing them off. Unless you are, in which case good luck to your karma.

2. Bringing a +1

You’ve been asked to dinner or a party, perhaps by some folks you don’t know too well. You want to go, but you’d rather leave the solo act to the cups. So how do you ask for a +1 without seeming rude or making it obvious that you don’t want to show up alone.

It can be an awkward question, especially if the gathering is on the more petite side.

Again, if you really want to be polite, pick up the telephone. We know etiquette has changed, and more often than naught a simple email will do, but as far as you’re concerned, it’s an imposition. It’s an extra person to feed, booze up, and entertain. You’re adding to the work-load. Imagine if everyone asked to bring a +1.

Offer to contribute: food, wine, a playlist… anything that says, I’m not trying to add to your stress level.

3. End a Text Convo

There is intense anxiety surrounding text convo’s that linger. Three texts, four, they keep rolling in, and every time your phone vibrates, you cringe at the thought of having to respond. When will it end?

The art of ending a clinger of a convo is important. You don’t want to seem rude, but you want to make it clear: Text time is over. There are a few options, but straightforward or clever usually get the job done.

Make a definitive statement a la: Great chatting. Running to lunch. Talk soon. Replace lunch with any of the following nouns: meeting, dinner, drinks, movie, doctor, etc. There’s nothing anyone can say to that other than, bye.

Or make a totally oblique reference with a sarcastic remark (always preferential): Brace Yourself, I am going to lunch. –Arianna Schioldager

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