Professional Etiquette 101

College of Forestry Undergrads- remember these tips when looking at jobs!

This week’s topic:  What does RSVP mean?

RVSP is an acronym for the French Répondez s’il vous plait.

In other words, RSVP is a request for a response from the invited person or people.  It means that the organizer or coordinator of an event or party or activity is asking you to let him or her know if you will or will not attend.  Not only is it good manners to respond, but it also helps the event coordinator plan for the event.  Will food be ordered?  Do special diets or other accommodations need to be arranged or planned for?    The event coordinator will ask invited guests to respond by a specific date if they will or will not attend so that this, and much more, can be arranged.

Why do guests need to RSVP by a specific date?  Well, event coordination can be time consuming and complicated.  In order for the event coordinator to plan for a successful event, advanced notice and planning is required.  Therefore, when you are asked to RSVP by a certain date, it is not only good manners, but also professionally wise, to reply in the given time frame.  It can be difficult for an event coordinator to accommodate late RSVPs to attend an event.  Therefore, it is good manners and professionally wise to RSVP by the given deadline.  If you would like to attend an event, but unique circumstances prevented you from RSVPing by the deadline, you will want to contact the event coordinator to politely ask if an accommodation is available (after all, catering, seating, handouts, etc. likely have already been prepared).  You should not expect that your request can be accommodated.  The event coordinator will do his or her best, but it is not always possible to make last minute changes.  If you RSVP late for an event, you should not plan to attend unless you hear from the event coordinator that your request has been accommodated.

When you RSVP for an event, it means:

  • You confirm with the event coordinator that you will or will not attend.

If you RSVP that you will attend an event, it means:

  • You agree to attend the event.
  • You commit* to attending the event, and do not change your mind at the last minute if different or “better” events come along.
  • You attend the event.
  • You contact the event coordinator if extenuating circumstances arise at the last minute which prevent you from attending.

*Commit means “to bind or obligate, as by pledge or assurance”.

If you RSVP that you cannot attend the event, it means:

  • That you have told the event coordinator you will not be at the event, and not to plan for you (this means that food, seating, handouts or other information will not be created or ordered for you).
  • You acknowledge that you will not attend the event even if your plans change and you are suddenly free.
  • You do not attend the event.
  • You do not expect to be accommodated if you change your mind and want to attend the event.

Please note:  the same can be said for confirming employment interviews, social activities, etc.


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