Thursday, April 18, 2013

Standing Invitations

The problem with standing invitations is that for the most part, they don't work the way people intend them to. It's a really lazy way to try to keep in touch with someone. When some says I can come over for dinner any time I want, to me it feels like they are saying, I want to see you again, but I don't want to call you and invite you over and set it all up. I also don't want to leave my house. By giving someone a standing invitation, you are putting the onus on them, forcing them to do all the work.

I think it would be weird to call someone up and say, "Hey can I come over for dinner tonight? You said I could whenever I wanted." People don't usually invite themselves over like that because it's rude.

People always give standing invitations to those who are sick or grieving. Call me if you need anything. If you ever need help, let me know. It's all so vague and the gesture is nice, but how many actually cash in on it and pick up the phone? Not many. They're all too busy being sick or sad and don't want to be a burden on anyone else.

I was reading an article about how to help a grieving friend. It said that instead of asking your friend to call if they want help around the house, you should just show up and do it. Just show up and mow the lawn or mop the floors or whatever needs to get done because a person in morning is not going to ask you to do it for them no matter how much they may want to.

Sometimes standing invitations are appropriate though. For example:
"Call me if you're ever in town and need a place to stay."
That makes sense. How would I know when you're in town unless you told me?
"Call me if you ever need a babysitter, a designated driver, or a handyman."
I'm not going to call you every week asking if you need my services, so these standing invitations are appropriate.
"If you ever need to borrow my tools, my car, my cottage, my tennis racket, whatever, just call."
Again, I'm not going to offer these things to you every day and keep checking in if want to borrow them or not. One invitation is enough.

But when it comes to social things like visiting, dinners, coffee, and hanging out, a standing invitation is really passive. What ends up happening is nobody calls anybody and too much time elapses between visits.

Then you've got one party who's upset because their standing invitation is backfiring and they haven't heard from their friend, but they don't want to call because they've already "invited" them over once. Meanwhile, the friend has forgotten about the standing invitation because it wasn't a real invitation and has gotten caught up with life and other things.

Finally the friend decides to call, but doesn't invite himself over for dinner. Due to the standing invitation, the other party doesn't offer another invite thinking their friend doesn't want to have dinner, otherwise they would have asked.

More time elapses. Finally the friend calls again mentioning they should all get together because it's been a while. Come on over! We thought you'd never ask!. A lovely time is had by all and at the end of the evening those dreaded words are uttered again, "Call us the next time you want to have dinner. Come over anytime!"

Nobody every learns. I would much rather someone call me and ask me if I was free to come over for dinner on Sunday. I don't want to call someone to see if they're free for me to come over there for dinner one Sunday. If I'm going to call someone about dinner, it will be to invite them over to my place for dinner because that's more polite.

That's my rant. Don't give people standing invitations to have dinner at your house.

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