Originally created 10/15/00

Invitation rejection should be more polite



Dear Carson: I read with interest a letter you received (Sept. 24) implying that Southerners are more polite than the rest of the country.

I recently moved to the South and I can tell you that it is not true! What people around here call polite, I call refusing to be honest, omitting the truth or downright lying.

I've been called rude because I politely say no rather than accept an invitation and failing to show up. Neighbors and co-workers accept invitations knowing full well that they cannot attend. This, to me, is rude and dishonest, yet I am the one considered the "rude Northerner."

Isn't it better to be honest from the beginning than to lie, only to be a no-show? And, by the way, most of these "polite Southerners" don't even bother to call to say they aren't coming! - No Nonsense Northerner

Dear Northerner: You are right that Southerners, like many people everywhere, are remiss in not replying to invitations. You are also correct that Southerners, like the Japanese, dislike saying no. However, you might use a little more tact.

If you have been called rude by at least three people, you would do well to take heed. One can say no, but with tact and a pleasant tone of voice. Your rejection also is softened by expressing sincere regret or by giving a reason, even if it is simply that you have another commitment.

Dear Carson: Is it acceptable to ask guests to your home to remove their shoes when entering the house? If so, how would you do that? - Neat Freak

Dear Neat: No, it is not acceptable. Get a good door mat and place it in front of your door.

Dear Carson: Is it acceptable for a secretary to type letters to clients, as a third party? For example: "Your appointment has been set with Dr. Doe for 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18. Please let us know if you cannot be here at this time." These would be signed with the name of the secretary. - Typed Appointment Times

Dear Typed: It is not only correct, but also preferable for a secretary to type such notices and sign her name, i.e. "Secretary to Dr. John Doe."

Dear Carson: If a person is writing on behalf of her spouse and herself, is it proper to sign the writer's name first and the spouse after? - Correspondence Correctness

Dear CC: It is more proper for the person doing the writing to sign her name and mention the spouse.

Write to Ask Carson, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928. Send e-mail to askcarson@home.com. Carson Elliott's Web site is www.theproperthing.com.