I do quite a bit of networking and co-hosted a networking event a few weeks ago. I had RSVPs from 30 people that they would be my guests, along with the guests my other hosts had invited. When it comes to big events like these, it’s expected that not everyone will be able to attend. I expected a few would need to change their plans, so when I got emails and calls on the day of the event, from eight of my guests, I was not surprised. What did surprise me was that each and every one of them let me now before the event started—expressing their regret that they wouldn’t be able to make it. As many of my friends are quite thoughtful, I would have expected this. But all eight? Rather than simply not showing up without a word, every single one of them took the time to let me know. I was touched and impressed. It meant a lot that everyone took the time to call or email me. As I’ve been guilty of forgetting to let a host know that I couldn’t make it, I understood at a personal level how important it is to communicate my change of plans.
The reality of life is that plans change. Each of us has known times in our lives when the “best laid plans” did not come out the way we wanted them to. External circumstances are not always in our control, but what is in our control–and what really matters–is how the circumstances are handled. Thoughtfulness and courtesy fuel good and valued relationships. In letting me know of their change of plans, there was an acknowledgment of the value of our relationship. The art of courtesy is valuing both myself and the other person, and exemplifies the golden rule: how would I want to be treated?