Friday, March 22, 2013

Will You Attend? Yes, No, Maybe

I have a friend who when she receives an Evite to an event or party, always answers "maybe." Not that she is any busier than the rest of us, but regardless, the initial answer is always maybe. It isn't until the day of the event, or if you prod her with an email because you need to firm up your plans, that she finally give you a definitive answer. Her constant waffling drives my friends and me positively crazy.
WSJ published an article about this very subject and had some great points about those chronic 'maybe-ers." Elizabeth Bernstein writes that not long ago people were expected to give a definitive answer to an invitation, but that changed when electronic invitations came to the market. It is so easy to check 'maybe' with your mouse, isn't it?

On top of it all, saying "maybe" means different things to different people. For some, it is a stall tactic -- to see if a better offer comes around. For others, it is a softer way of saying no. For my friend, we believe it gives her an out if she simply doesn't feel like she is up to the event that day. To make things even more complicated, often the person saying it and the person receiving the maybe attach different meanings to the word. " 'Maybe' can be blurry to the listener," says UCLA's Dr. Goodman. "People who feel intolerant of ambiguity probably hate to hear 'maybe' -- it can give them an insecure feeling."

I think Dr. Goodman is right, at least, I think it explains why I get so aggravated with my friend's waffling. I'm a planner. I have three kids with super busy schedules. I work part-time and have a big volunteer job too. My husband is working constantly. For us to throw a party takes a fair bit of planning, organizing and juggling of schedules. My other friends who are aggravated with the waffler are no different. We have even had betting pools on when she was going to pull the trigger and commit one way or another.

While my friend's fence straddling can be construed event shopping, I wonder if I'm not a bit jealous of her footloose and fancy-free ways? I do know that it causes me a bit of dread when I invite this family to a party. I am going to ponder this today as I place my family's weekend sports schedule on an Excel sheet so no one misses an event.

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