Social Etiquette and Good Manners/stop neighbors from visiting


It started nice, with my senior neighbors (we're in our early 30's) coming every now and then, talking over the fence, then started coming more often, and lately staying over 4 to 6 hours each time and making us skip lunch talking about their personal problems. We work at home (we assemble items) and need to get things done, how can I stop them from coming over? Also got tired of hearing them talk religion when we are not religious people. They live right next door and would like to keep friendship, but got tired of having them over. How can I stop them without having a fight?

I realize we made a big mistake initially telling them to come over, but that was before they stayed for 6 hours, coming at lunch time and  talking religion and about personal stuff. The husband turns out is bipolar and they got into fights and had to call police sometimes. He also starts picking on his wounds and removing crusts on the couch and even, nose picking yuck, wife says it's part of the disorder, can't bear seeing that again. He also falls asleep as we're talking.

We feel bad for them as they don't have any friends, but we can't do this any longer, especially with all the work we have to do. My husband once said in front of them, "don't you have to go cook.?" to me in hopes they left, but I am too polite and said, "it's still a bit frozen," to give them a hint to leave in a bit, but it didn't work, they left 3 hours later at 1030 pm that evening and we ate at 11:00 pm. We saw them last time and stayed just half hour, telling them we got stuff to do.

For now, we are living like in prison, we keep all our shades dark, keep the car parked far so it looks like we are out. But for how long can we do this?

Dear Melissa:

You are running scared of your neighbors when you should just be up front with them.  The next time they go to your house, stop them at the door and tell them that it is not a convenient time for a visit and that you will see them later.  Then smile and close the door.  Just because they are neighbors doesn't mean they have open allowance to your time or home.
You could tell them that when you are less busy, you will call them and set up a time to get together.  

Anytime they just drop by, tell them before they get into your home that it just isn't convenient.  Some other time.  If they ask when, tell them you will call them.

It's your home, they are your rules.  Don't be bullied into being hospitable.  Hospitality is a gift you give to others. No one can make you entertain them.  Remember that subtlety often doesn't work, as you have seen.  Tell them what I suggested and you should be able to live openly in your house without having to entertain them.

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).

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