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March 16, 2009

How do you handle unwelcome guest at your house?

Question: How do you handle people who invite themselves over to your home? Especially ones who do not call first?

Answer: It can be annoying to have people drop in unexpected, especially depending on what you were doing before the interruption! However, how you deal with it depends on why you’re irritated: is it because they’ve dropped in and you’re busy, or because you simply hate spontaneous drop-ins?

If someone drops by unannounced and you don’t have time to socialize with them, it’s perfectly fine to say, “I’m sorry but I don’t have time to hang out right now, let’s make a plan for next week (or whenever).” People understand being busy; we all suffer from it. Some people (like myself) come from the type of family where the “pop-in” (as cointed by Seinfeld) is totally acceptable and not a problem. They may not realize that you’re not a pop-in type of person, and that they’re encroaching on your personal space. If this is the case, be careful not to invite them in (or they’ll never leave), but chat for a minute or two in the hallway/foyer before apologising about having to get back to whatever it is you were doing.

Conversely, if it is the actual unannounced doorway appearance that irks you, you have two choices: you can directly tell your friends and family (as they show up, or altogether, your choice) that you don’t appreciate spontaneous visits, or you can take a deep breath, relax, and go with the flow. What do you do currently? Do you let them in, or do you stand in the doorway? Whatever you’re currently doing isn’t working, so you have to decide what it is about the pop-in that drives you crazy, and come up with a solution. I wouldn’t recommend a mass-email complaining about company, for example; you’ll wind up looking like an ego maniac complaining you have too many friends. If you seriously want to put a stop to these pop-ins, it will likely take some time. Each time someone shows up, you’ll have to explain that you’re busy and you don’t have time to see them; make it clear you want them to call or email first. Be careful though, or you could come off as extremely pretentious. Or, like I said, you could choose to relax a little bit, and recognize that there are people in your life who enjoy spending time with you, invited or not. Either way it’s up to you, but I think you can guess which one will make you seem like the ultimate grouch.

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