Is it Socially Unacceptable to Send Calendar Invites Outside of the Office?
It’s hardly exaggerating to say most of us are married to our calendars, and by necessary extension, our co-workers’. It’s standard to suggest meeting to discuss a work matter and be met with a response such as, “My week is up-to-date. Put some time on there for us.”
At first, this practice annoyed me. All I needed was a 15-minute face-to-face, and in order to get it, I was going to have to check someone else’s calendar and sync it with my own to find a time we were both available? C’mon, I wanted to say, there’s got to be a better way. But that initial annoyance at adapting to a new work thing faded in no time, and now, if a meeting’s not on my cal, I doubt it’s happening. Turns out, there really isn’t a better way—at least not one that I’ve discovered.
So, our co-workers request and appreciate our carving out time to meet and making it official via the commonplace calendar invite; why should it be awkward to send a social invite follow-up in the same manner after a date or get-together has been proposed?
I don’t regularly send them to my friends after we’ve made dinner plans, or bought concert tickets, or agreed to brunch on Sunday, but I’ve done it in the past, and I believe, depending on the circumstances and the person you’re dealing with, it’s a fantastic solution to staying organized and on top of our busy work and social lives.
Thus, I couldn’t help smiling a little bit when I read Dayna Evans recent piece in The Cut, titled “Don’t Send Calendar Invites to Chill With Friends Outside of Office Hours” because, again, depending on the friend, that “don’t” should maybe read “do.”
I’m not going to name any names, but I have one pal in particular who’s notoriously bad at keeping our dates. She’s always supercrazybusy. When we set a date, I know to remind her a couple of days before, and I’ve taken to “checking in” with her the day of to make sure we’re “still on.”
This method works OK, but what really cements the plan is when I send her a calendar invite! It’s a nod of respect to her hectic schedule, and it acts as an accountability tool. She doesn’t find it offensive, and why should she?
Evans tells the story of a friend who was taken aback at receiving such a formal gesture after making dinner plans with a friend. Evans writes that, “She was not only aghast at the formality of the invite but also at the implication that she would have forgotten if they’d just exchanged a simple text message or email.”
To this I say, maybe it wasn’t about the person on the receiving end. Perhaps it had far more to do with the sender who determined that keeping a calendar—for work and play—was a necessity. I see nothing inherently wrong with that. It’s not as though the inviter was trying to micromanage.
I doubt, for instance that Evans’ colleague who admits to sending her boyfriend calendar invites for special events that they’ve planned together is attempting to exercise her micromanaging muscles on her S.O. Why must we have such a defined line between our work habits and our social ones? I have a busy afternoon of professional calls, and each one is on my calendar. I recently sent my fiancé an invite for us to buy his wedding band, and like the work calls, I need it in writing. Having that time carved out gives me a feeling of productivity and provides me with a sense of security and relief that we are going to get this thing that needs doing done. It’s quite similar to career-related tasks.
In fact, I’d argue that it can sometimes serve as a kind of a to-do list, and for us Type-A folks, this is awesome! You can put “Call Jeff” on your to-do list, but if you put it in your calendar, you might be more likely to actually get around to picking up the phone, especially if he’s expecting your call and has the time set aside, too
Even so, in spite of these similar work-play habits, I disagree with Evans assertion that “while streamlining is surely a sign of the Future, it leaves little room for a distinction between night and day, work and play,” because the events and activities themselves will always be distinct. Your meeting in the board room isn’t going to be replicated in your drinks date with Jill later that evening.
And even if you don’t need a formal invite for happy hour with your friends, it doesn’t mean they wouldn’t appreciate it. And, vice versa, obviously—if keeping track of your after-office-hours social life via an online calendar complete with invites works for you, don’t stop now. I can almost promise you that a true friend will let you know (subtly or otherwise) if your invitations are annoying, offensive, or bordering on micromanaging.
Stacey Lastoe is the Senior Editor/Writer of The Muse. She started writing short stories in the second grade and is immensely grateful to have the opportunity to write and edit professionally. Her work has appeared in YouBeauty, Refinery29, A Practical Wedding, Runner's World online, and The Billfold among other publications. She enjoys running and eating in equal measure and lives with her husband and dog in Brooklyn. All three of them are avid New York Mets fans. Say hello on @stacespeaks.More from this Author