Social Etiquette and Good Manners/Dutch Treat Et Al !


Greetings !
Hope you can kindly clarify a few potentially 'sticky' matters for me.
My family and I have had the dubious distinction of coming across some extremely parsimonious individuals.......we are extremely hospitable and have invited these people to our home on several occasions......numerous coffees and countless dinners.  In the past 10 years we have known them - we have only had dinner there once and only about 3 coffees at most.  The wife has made it clear that she is 'not into entertaining' which is her right but they do not mind coming to our house.  The husband who is quite a tidwad invited us out for coffee but when the bill came he insisted that we split the bill two ways. After 10 years he decided to invite us out to lunch......however there were some conditions-----one of us wanted to order the FISH CAKES to which he promptly made up a story of himself and his Mrs. having gotten sick on those in the past so we had to settle for ordering a Turkey Club instead.  The husband in the past has called our house actually inviting himself to our house for HOT COCOA as he wanted to couple that with going to his opthamologist !
We have quietly closed the book on these there anything we could have done differently ?  We also know another couple who happen to live 2 hours from our house -- both ways---they invited us to visit them and to go out for Pizza. When it came time for the bill - they also insisted that the bill be split in half.
Is there any neat method in order to deal with his or must we feel uneasy with such encounters ?
Thanks !

Dear Jonathan:

You have been friends with "takers" not givers and that is extremely frustrating to you and your wife who are "givers".  The etiquette rule is that entertaining is a reciprocal activity. You host one time and they host the next.  When you do all the hosting, the dynamic of the relationship is off kilter and doesn't feel good. You feel as if you have been "taken advantage of" and you well should because you have been.

Your statement that you have closed the book on those who haven't held up their side of the bargain is long overdue.  In the future you might say the following if someone invites you out. "Thank you so much for your generosity.  We would love to be your guests at dinner.  Next time it will be our treat."  If you forget to say this at the time of the invitation, make sure you say it before the bill comes so that the expectation of your hosts is that they do the right thing and pay for the whole bill.  That's the rule in etiquette - whomever invites, pays.

Social Etiquette and Good Manners

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Cynthia W. Lett


Proper manners with friends,family,colleagues,neighbors and everyone else you know.


I have been an etiquette expert teaching and consulting on the subject worldwide since 1983. I started and serve as the Executive Director of the International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals and am considered a leader in the field of etiquette and protocol training and execution. I edited "Etiquette for Dummies" and have recently written "Lett's Talk - Everyday Etiquette Dilemmas and What to Do about Them". My book, "That's So Annoying:An Etiquette Expert on the World's Most Irritating Habits And What To Do About Them" was published in 2009 and is available wherever books are sold. I taught the Business Protocol class to Master's level students at the George Washington University, Washington, DC for seven years I served as Chief of Protocol for MCI Telecommunications for three years.

International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals, ASTD, PCMA, National Speakers Association

I have been quoted over 700 times in the past 5 years worldwide. Publications include Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, NY Times, Washington Business Journal, USA Today, Associated Press, London Times, Newsweek Japan edition, Newsweek US edition and many many more.

I am a Certified Etiquette Professional (CEP) and Certified Protocol Professional (CPP) earned by examination through ISPEP. I have a Master's degree in hospitality law and undergrad degrees in Restaurant & Hotel Management and Public Relations/Interpersonal Communications from Purdue University.

Awards and Honors
Who's Who Worldwide,Who's Who of American Women, Distinguished Darden Professor (Purdue University).

Past/Present Clients
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