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Author Topic: courtesy wars  (Read 8803 times)

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slokies

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #30 on: May 18, 2016, 02:22:51 PM »

This makes me think of a guest we had last year: I think I may have posted about her.  I didn't know her or her husband; they were relatives of friends who were having a big family event.  Every little thing, she made a huge deal of: "I'm making coffee; want some?" "Oh, no, no, I couldn't put you to any trouble!" -- like that, all day long.  It was exhausting.
...

  It is hard to learn, but it's a really important lesson: whether it's gifts, help, compliments, or hospitality, it's just as important to be a good taker as to be a good giver.


Yes!!! This! Exactly!  It IS exhausting to be constantly rebuffed in any attempt to be hospitable.  That is my whole point.  I don't think it's up to the guest to determine what constitutes "putting me out" as a host.  John's "not wanting to put me out" is putting me out!  Accepting hospitality is a skill that many people sadly lack.

My thanks to everyone for their replies and input.  Many of you have agreed that it seems to be a "zero-sum game" but what practical suggestions do you have for a better way to handle it?  I have traveled the world extensively and my rule of thumb is to observe the customs of whatever country (or house) I'm in.  I'd love to suggest something similar to John (and some other family members), i.e. you follow my rules at my house, and I follow yours when I visit you...but I doubt they would be willing to agree.

Thoughts?

lmyrs

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #31 on: May 18, 2016, 02:45:15 PM »
If you're not willing to take the advice already offered, I don't know that there's much more to say. A majority of people in this thread have said that your "rules" would make them uncomfortable enough to never go back. Some of the advice included having the meal as a buffet and seating people all together or having only you or your husband at the breakfast nook so the guests aren't without a host. You can put your papers in a box to easily move them from the guest room. You can't force John to want your bed so unless you want to compromise, I'd suggest giving him a hotel number.

menley

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #32 on: May 18, 2016, 02:55:40 PM »
If you're not willing to take the advice already offered, I don't know that there's much more to say. A majority of people in this thread have said that your "rules" would make them uncomfortable enough to never go back. Some of the advice included having the meal as a buffet and seating people all together or having only you or your husband at the breakfast nook so the guests aren't without a host. You can put your papers in a box to easily move them from the guest room. You can't force John to want your bed so unless you want to compromise, I'd suggest giving him a hotel number.

I agree. It sounds like your hosting style is incompatible with John, and as you don't wish to make any changes to accommodate him, the appropriate move is to simply not host him.

gellchom

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #33 on: May 18, 2016, 03:41:57 PM »
slokies, I have to agree with lmyrs and menley. 

You see clearly how this operates in the guest-to-host-direction.

But I think you are missing the point I made originally: it works both ways.  I am afraid that -- with only the best of intentions, I know -- you are part of the problem here, too.

Examine your own "rules."  Are some of them not truly making your guests feel comfortable, just serving to make you feel that you are being 100% unselfish? 

You titled this string -- very well, I think -- "courtesy wars."  Well, it takes two sides to have a "war." 

Maybe try to focus on making sure you are not the host equivalent to the "oh no no no I don't want to put you to any trouble" guest in my story.  Remember, just as you said that it is not up to a guest to determine what is putting the host out, it's not up to the host to decide what should make the guest comfortable.  Overdoing it can make people feel very uncomfortable.

I, too, would be uncomfortable taking my hosts' bedroom or sitting at the "primo" seats while my hosts were "in the ashes," as you put it.  I would not think of them as being better hosts because they were so supremely self-sacrificing; I'd think of it as either making a PA point of how much of a burden it is to host me or that they were sort of showing off what great, generous hosts they were.

I know that is not what you are doing!  You really are trying to be a good host. But can you see how this illustrates the principle of learning to be a good taker applies to hosts, too?

I guess it all is based on a principle of equality, sort of -- there should be no stigma on accepting hospitality (or kindness, gifts, help, etc.).  But in order for that to happen, there has to be balance.  No one can, even tacitly or unconsciously, insist on only always being the giver, never the taker -- even when the motivation is not egoism, but simply striving to be the best person they can be -- because the effect is to stigmatize the "taker" position.  Applied to the host-guest context, that doesn't just mean that someday you take your turn to be a guest to John, who will then take his turn to "sleep in the ashes" -- it means you balance out the self-sacrifice both when you are the guest and when you are the host.

YummyMummy66

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #34 on: May 18, 2016, 05:52:15 PM »
I do understand your concept that you follow the rules in my home.   But, in your situation, this is not about rules, per se.  This is about making your guests comfortable and having an enjoyable visit with you and your dh.   John may be the only one who has voiced his opinion, but I am guessing, other guests might also feel the same as John.

Honestly, I would be put out as an adult to "follow rules" in a home. I am not a child.  I understand following certain guidelines and respecting my host(s), but the way you make it sound is off putting.

Let's start with the bedroom issue and I am surprised no one has said this directly.  But, very few people stay in my bed.  I have had family occasionally, for various reasons, like my mother or one of my children.  Otherwise, anyone else stays in my extra bedroom.   But, no one wants to stay in someone else's bed where, (how shall I say this?), the couple of the household plays scrabble activities.  (And yes, I always put on fresh sheets, blankets, pillows, etc.).  But, still the thought of staying in someone's master bed of the house, is not something I wish to do.   And I am guessing this is one of the reasons most posters state they would also prefer other sleeping arrangements than your bed.   Would you feel comfortable staying in someone else's master bed?

You have another room with a fold out couch.  I would either let your guests use that or you can always buy an air mattress that can be inflated anywhere and let your guests use that.

As far as dinner, yes, I agree with others.  I do get your thinking, but it sounds as if your backs are to your guests.  I think that having one spouse sit at the bar area with a guest and one at the table with the other guests is much more agreeable.   Can your table only seat six or can it only accommodate six people or do you only have six chairs?   I have a table that seats six, but when we have more guests, we provide folding chairs and we all squeeze in together.  Is this something you can do or it would be too tight?   

slokies

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #35 on: May 19, 2016, 10:56:55 AM »
OK, some clarification:

Would you feel comfortable staying in someone else's master bed?

Yes, if I'm a guest in their house, and that's what they offer me, I will accept it gratefully (so long as the bedding is clean  ;)).  I'm much more likely to not stay at someone's house again if they make me sleep on an air mattress that hurts my back or the room is uncomfortable for some other reason (light/noise pollution, etc.)

You have another room with a fold out couch.  I would either let your guests use that or you can always buy an air mattress that can be inflated anywhere and let your guests use that.

Some further explanation is needed here.  We have 3 bedrooms.  Only the master bedroom has a bed.  One is DH's office, which contains the litterbox.  No one wants to sleep with cat poop.  The other is my office, which is my very personal space.  That's where I meditate, do yoga, make art, etc.  I can't pack the whole room in a box and move it.  I don't mind me & DH sleeping in there since it's generally cleaner than DH's room, but I really don't want guests in there.  I don't even let my BFF sleep in there when she visits.  The futon I spoke of is just a thick mat that rolls out on the floor.  It's how most people in Japan sleep, and it's good for your back once you're used to it, but most Americans are not.  Although I like sleeping on it, I would never subject my guests to that.  Which leaves the air mattress option.  I hate the thought of making my guests sleep on something I don't like to sleep on, while I stay in a nice bed.  I guess that's just me.  ???

As far as dinner, yes, I agree with others.  I do get your thinking, but it sounds as if your backs are to your guests.  I think that having one spouse sit at the bar area with a guest and one at the table with the other guests is much more agreeable.   Can your table only seat six or can it only accommodate six people or do you only have six chairs?   I have a table that seats six, but when we have more guests, we provide folding chairs and we all squeeze in together.  Is this something you can do or it would be too tight?

The table really only seats 6.  Yes, I could squeeze in some folding chairs, but TBH, when I've had to pack in like sardines at other people's houses, I can't wait to get out.  So the question is, how do we determine which guest gets stuck at the snack bar?  Is it the same guest every time?  Do we draw straws?  If DH and I are both hosts, which of us sits at the big table?  Don't we both want to visit with our guests?  Do we need to switch places half-way through (awkward)?  Make 2 guests sit at the snack bar?  I don't mind kids doing that, but not grownups.  Which is why I thought the best solution was for both hosts to sit at the snack bar.  We can all sit together in the living room and visit more afterward.  I just didn't expect such moaning and gnashing of teeth over dinner seating arrangements, and don't know how to respond if/when it comes up again.  For the record, DH and I have been hosting parties and having overnight guests for years (yes, in our bed) and this is the only time, and John is the only person, who has ever made such a fuss.  Another poster brought up the point that it may be gender-based, and that could be true, as John usually directs his comments at me and not DH.  Someone else said one polite refusal is nice, but more than that is rude.  Looks like I may only be able to invite him when we have exactly 6 people, then send him to a hotel.  :(

Thanks again to everyone who responded.

Yvaine

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #36 on: May 19, 2016, 11:04:03 AM »
The table really only seats 6.  Yes, I could squeeze in some folding chairs, but TBH, when I've had to pack in like sardines at other people's houses, I can't wait to get out.  So the question is, how do we determine which guest gets stuck at the snack bar?  Is it the same guest every time?  Do we draw straws?  If DH and I are both hosts, which of us sits at the big table?  Don't we both want to visit with our guests?  Do we need to switch places half-way through (awkward)?  Make 2 guests sit at the snack bar?  I don't mind kids doing that, but not grownups.  Which is why I thought the best solution was for both hosts to sit at the snack bar.  We can all sit together in the living room and visit more afterward.  I just didn't expect such moaning and gnashing of teeth over dinner seating arrangements, and don't know how to respond if/when it comes up again.  For the record, DH and I have been hosting parties and having overnight guests for years (yes, in our bed) and this is the only time, and John is the only person, who has ever made such a fuss.  Another poster brought up the point that it may be gender-based, and that could be true, as John usually directs his comments at me and not DH.  Someone else said one polite refusal is nice, but more than that is rude.  Looks like I may only be able to invite him when we have exactly 6 people, then send him to a hotel.  :(
Thanks again to everyone who responded.


My first instincts are to, yes, have 6 people at a time instead of 8 (though I know there are family situations where that's not possible; for example, putting my nuclear family in one room is automatically 8, and that's without partners and children)--or to eat in the living room, maybe with a more casual menu.

Zizi-K

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #37 on: May 19, 2016, 11:17:43 AM »
I was one person who could understand why John, or your other guests, might feel uncomfortable with the situation. However, John's reactions to your hospitality are over the top. If I were in John's position, I might certainly feel uncomfortable with my sleeping in your bed, and I might mention it, like "Are you sure, I'm happy to sleep in the office, I don't want to put you out!" But once you assured me that this is how you prefer it, I would accept your decision and go with it. You certainly have valid reasons for the sleeping situation you describe.

For the eating situation, I think it could be a lot more organic. If you or your husband are already in conversation with someone as you sit down to eat, they could easily join you at the bar. In between courses, people could swap. I find a crowded table to be a bit uncomfortable, but I personally would rather be at a crowded table with my hosts, you know?

If you are only having problems with one person, John, then the solution may be to stop hosting John!

YummyMummy66

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #38 on: May 19, 2016, 02:57:08 PM »
If it is just John complaining, than he might not get invited all that often. 

(I do get all the reasons you stated for having guests use your bedroom instead of other options).   

And if John starts in, I would just calmly state, John, this is your option.  If it is not suitable for you, you are welcome to find other arrangements.  Now, what would you like to drink?

Don't let him get to you.

As for seating, it sounds like you host many times and these are people you associate with regularly.  I would just play it by ear.  If they are ok with the seating, then don't fret over it. 

gellchom

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #39 on: May 19, 2016, 03:56:22 PM »
Be careful not to fall into the trap of assuming that because no one has complained or criticized, no one was uncomfortable. 

This comes up in many topics on eHell.  Some posters write, "We did XYZ, and no one complained" -- but they are far outnumbered by those who write, "Our hosts did XYZ, and it was a real mess/looked so greedy/was really tacky."

Zizi-K

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #40 on: May 19, 2016, 04:05:08 PM »
Be careful not to fall into the trap of assuming that because no one has complained or criticized, no one was uncomfortable. 

This comes up in many topics on eHell.  Some posters write, "We did XYZ, and no one complained" -- but they are far outnumbered by those who write, "Our hosts did XYZ, and it was a real mess/looked so greedy/was really tacky."

If this is a regular group, though, then the guests are not powerless. They can politely suggest alternate seating arrangements, or if they are very uncomfortable they can certainly decline the hospitality. Or, they might find that the mild discomfort of sitting apart from hosts is something they can endure for the sake of socializing with people they like, and their enjoyment of other parts of the evening. It doesn't have to be all or nothing.

EllenS

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #41 on: May 19, 2016, 04:30:38 PM »
Just wanted to chime in that I also live in a house with limited seating and no permanent guest bed. We have our bedroom, the kid's shared bedroom, and a home office. Our dining table seats 6.

We handle parties a couple of different ways. Sometimes we do a kids' table and an adult table. Sometimes we cook out and eat on the back porch. Sometimes we do a buffet, and sometimes we eat in shifts. A formal sit-down all at once just wouldn't work, so we don't do them. We just try to keep the bodies, food and wine flowing in a happy direction, and it all seems to work out.

For overnight guests, the youngest/lightest/healthiest person gets the air mattress, and they have their choice of the office (which is tiny, like you have to crawl into bed from the foot tiny), or the living room which affords no privacy.

When kids or teenage relatives stay over, we keep our bed. Often the young kids would rather be on the futon or sleeping bags in our kids' room anyhow.

When my inlaws come, I "red-up" the master bedroom and they get the bed. DH and I take the air mattress in the office. They keep coming to stay, even though they could easily afford a hotel. They really don't have the mobility to take that air mattress.

Last time my brother and SIL (age peers) planned to come to town, we offered our room but they chose to stay in an Air BnB. No hard feelings. I think communication up front and letting people decide what works for them without pressure is the key.

saki

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #42 on: May 20, 2016, 02:51:40 AM »
The table really only seats 6.  Yes, I could squeeze in some folding chairs, but TBH, when I've had to pack in like sardines at other people's houses, I can't wait to get out.  So the question is, how do we determine which guest gets stuck at the snack bar?  Is it the same guest every time?  Do we draw straws?  If DH and I are both hosts, which of us sits at the big table?  Don't we both want to visit with our guests?  Do we need to switch places half-way through (awkward)?  Make 2 guests sit at the snack bar?  I don't mind kids doing that, but not grownups.  Which is why I thought the best solution was for both hosts to sit at the snack bar.  We can all sit together in the living room and visit more afterward.  I just didn't expect such moaning and gnashing of teeth over dinner seating arrangements, and don't know how to respond if/when it comes up again.  For the record, DH and I have been hosting parties and having overnight guests for years (yes, in our bed) and this is the only time, and John is the only person, who has ever made such a fuss.  Another poster brought up the point that it may be gender-based, and that could be true, as John usually directs his comments at me and not DH.  Someone else said one polite refusal is nice, but more than that is rude.  Looks like I may only be able to invite him when we have exactly 6 people, then send him to a hotel.  :(
Thanks again to everyone who responded.


My first instincts are to, yes, have 6 people at a time instead of 8 (though I know there are family situations where that's not possible; for example, putting my nuclear family in one room is automatically 8, and that's without partners and children)--or to eat in the living room, maybe with a more casual menu.

Agree.  Also, if this is an option for you (which it might not be), you could look into buying a new table - perhaps one of those that seats 6 but can expand to seat 8 so you don't have an enormous table taking up space at all times.

Alicia

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #43 on: May 20, 2016, 05:56:39 AM »
Ok you asked as dh and you are both hosts who sitsvwhere. I would determine it based on who is the one who would get up to get say a new pitcher of drinks or to refill the veggie bowls. That person sits in the spot closer to the kitchen be it the table or snack bar. The other person sits in other location  . Which guest sits at snack bar whichever one makes the choice to but inclinded towards a healthy adult.

Alicia

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Re: courtesy wars
« Reply #44 on: May 20, 2016, 05:57:48 AM »
Also yes i would prefer to stay in the same room as a litter box on a futon mat then in hosts bed.
P.s. i am allergic to cats and still feel this way. Although would need allergy meds
« Last Edit: May 20, 2016, 02:54:30 PM by Alicia »