Respectfully Yours: Ins and outs of who attends the party
I am invited to a party and I am not sure I want to attend. Someone I don’t get along with might have been invited and I would feel very uncomfortable. Is it rude to ask the host of a party who else is coming before you decide whether you are going?
Asking this question before accepting an invitation is not considered polite. You will likely offend the host and give the impression that you need to be convinced the party is worth your time.
Asking for the guest list prior to accepting an invitation can come across as pushing boundaries. Your question could be interpreted as someone whose attendance is dependent on select guests.
It implies you care more about who might show up than spending time with the host who invited you.
Also, it is not a good idea to make a separate phone call only for the purpose of acquiring a guest list. You don’t want your response to seem conditional.
The only polite way to ask who will be attending is after you accept an invitation. Then you can ask the host who else will be attending.
First, thank the party host for the invitation and then ask, “By the way, who else am I going to get to see?”
If, however, there is a specific issue at hand, for example, that you are worried about partying with your boss, then it is OK to ask your host prior to accepting the invitation.
In this situation, simply say, “I don’t want to make your party awkward. Do you know if my boss is going to be there?”
If the answer is yes, politely say, “Thank you, I’ll sit this one out.” Be honest. You’re not assessing the value of the guest list. You’re only trying to avoid a specific uncomfortable situation.
At any party, you may find yourself around people you would rather not interact with. As always, do your best to be polite and pleasant.
Have a question? Email: email@example.com. Jacquelyn Youst is owner of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol, specializing in etiquette training. She is on the board of directors of the National Civility Foundation.
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