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20-40-60 Etiquette---She said no!



By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace

QUESTION: How about when someone regrets an event? One of my good friends told me she could not come to my dinner party, and it was all that I could do not to ask her why. I felt like it was impolite to quiz her about her plans, but I could not believe that she could not come. Should I have asked her why she was unavailable?

CALLIE'S ANSWER: Ha! I would want to know, too. Although if she didn't offer the answer, I wouldn't press her. Maybe she will tell you about it later.


LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: If she didn't volunteer the reason why, then I don't think there is a nice way to ask her why, no matter how curious you are. Try not to be upset with her for the regret or take it personally if you can help it.

HELEN'S ANSWER: When someone says no to something we want them to do, we always wonder why. But, truly, it would be bad manners to inquire or to call them out on it. It is their business as to what they can do and not do.

Just thank them for letting you know, say that they will be missed and tell them that you all can catch up some other time.

GUEST'S ANSWER: Linda Miller, Fashion Matters Blogger: It’s understandable that you might expect a good friend to give you a reason she could not attend your dinner party. But since she didn’t, you were right not to ask. She would have offered an explanation if she had wanted.

A simple response from you, such as we’ll miss you or hope to see you soon, lets her know you enjoy her company and friendship. Maybe she’s been really busy or stressed with family or work and just needs an evening to herself.


To ask an etiquette question, email Helen


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Helen Ford Wallace

Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for... Read more ›