Charge Up for Good Health

The Truth About Etiquette

Does forgetting to write thank-you notes and not RSVPing in time make me a total jerk?

I take months to write thank-you notes -- if I write them at all. I’m terrible at returning phone calls. And I am that person who has to call the bride on the RSVP date to tell her, “Yes, I am coming to your wedding. Sorry I didn’t return that reply card.”

And no, it’s not because I’m not 100 percent grateful, or because I don’t think of the people in my life often, or because I don’t respect the bride’s time and energy. Honestly, I don’t know why it is. I know some people are great at etiquette-type stuff, and I’d love to know their secrets (since I’d love to not be disowned by certain people in my life who take etiquette seriously). But until then, here’s why I think having good etiquette is ridiculously hard:

  1. We’re not just busy; we’re crazed. How many people do you know with tons of free time? None, you say? Me neither. It’s not like most of us have more than two weeks of vacation a year or work less than 50 hours a week or eat most meals anywhere other than our desks. We’re busy. Probably more stressed and overscheduled than any generation before us, especially whatever generation made up the etiquette rules. And when we do have a moment to spare, what do we do? Well, I don’t know about you, but I sleep.
  1. We already communicate pretty easily and informally. Writing a thank-you letter to Grandma would be nice, but it actually feels a little more personal to give her a call, have a video chat or, jeez, even send a text. We can communicate in so many ways in an instant instead of two business days (and without having to find a frickin’ stamp). Isn’t that nice too?
  1. Honestly, some of us don’t really care that much. Who’s judging us on our etiquette (or lack thereof)? Is it the people we’re closest to? Nah, they know exactly how grateful and respectful we are. It’s those judgey in-laws and third cousins we see every five years. If I give someone a gift, it’s because I want them to have it -- not because I expect a thank-you note. So I don’t judge someone when they don’t send me one. And if someone is angry because I forgot to give them one, well then, I say they shouldn’t have sent me a gift in the first place. Is that so wrong? Maybe it’s time to relax -- and relax standards that no longer work for us.

Is it bad etiquette to skip thank-you notes? Tell me what you think below or tweet me @Completely_You



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