Do you R.S.V.P when people ask you to events? Do you turn off your cellphone at the movies and the theater? Wipe your sweat off machines at the gym? Refrain from talking loudly in public on your phone? How polite do you think you are, and describe what breaches of etiquette drive you crazy.
Here’s an etiquette experiment for you: E-mail an invitation for a party, one month out, to 45 friends. Request an R.S.V.P. Provide a follow-up e-mail message, two weeks later, politely reminding them to get back to you.
How many will?
My experiment arose from plans for an evening of food, drink and good conversation with friends , at a restaurant. Not exactly a drop-in-if-you’re-around kind of thing, so I asked friends to R.S.V.P. My initial message brought in a dozen responses, and the follow-up a few more, but days before the event I had a paltry 23. Not 23 who planned to come, but 23 who had bothered to respond. Half my invitees had blown me off. Why? I wasn’t peddling life insurance, after all.
Asking around, I discovered that the phenomenon is widespread.
How do you think you rate on the politeness scale? Do you think people of different ages have different standards? What breaches of etiquette especially bother you? Why?