Should You Drop Everything
for Drop-in Guests?

Drop-in Guest

Most of us like surprises, but few people have an appreciation for drop-in guests.

Welcoming guests is a duty of every host, even when a host wasn’t planning to play that role.  This is why unplanned or uninvited visitors can be an inconvenience.

Even worse is when a real interruption occurs.  Perhaps you were working, doing important chores, taking a much needed nap, etc.  This is not the time you would want to stop and entertain a guest.

But is it necessary to drop everything for drop-in guests?

The Reality of Drop-in Guests

Friend or foe, invited or unannounced, people are going to show up whether you want them to or not. 

When someone arrives at your door without an invitation, you have no obligation to let them interrupt you.  If you are genuinely busy or if you simply don’t want a visitor, you can be honest and kind at the same time.

You: “Hi, Sammie, it’s great to see you.  Is everything okay?” 
Sammie: “Oh sure, I just wanted to stop by and see what’s up.”
You: “Glad everything’s okay.  I’m sorry, but I can’t invite you in right now.  May I get in touch with you later tonight and maybe we can meet up next week?”

If Sammie has developed a habit of dropping by unannounced, it’s fine next time to let her know that you’d prefer that she call/text/email ahead of time to find a time convenient for you both.

If it continues to happen, or happens in a different manner such as she texts you to let you know she’s in the neighborhood and wants to drop by just to say “Hi” and check with you about going out later, you may need to take a firmer stand.

But remember that you are under no obligation to feel as if you should invite someone in, and you may need to go another step in making yourself clear.

You (when Sammie knocks): “Yes, Sammie?”
Sammie: “Did you get my text?”
You:  “I am really engaged here and I’m losing my focus as we speak.  Call me next week and we can plan something.”  Keep your response short and to the point without details.

Now, if you don’t want to spend time with Sammie at all, you might need to assess your relationship and take a firmer stance about not spending time with her.

Is It Ever Okay?

Arriving uninvited has varying degrees of inconvenience for the person playing host.  If it's a dining event, your host scrambles to set a place for you and keeps fingers crossed that there is enough food.  Crashing a party may not be quite as inconvenient for the host but, depending on the type of party, may still cause an awkward situation.

Always consider how you might feel if someone showed up out of the blue (as in the Sammie examples above).  Would you want visitors who expect you to host them without notice?  Perhaps they also expect you to provide drinks, a snack, or a meal!  Even if it is a welcome visit, drop-in guests can still be an intrusion.

Is there ever a good reason for a surprise visit?  Only if you know your friend or family member extremely well - and well enough to know for sure that he (or she) would appreciate your unannounced interruption.

As a show of respect and courtesy for another's time, make arrangements before you drop by.  Coordinated schedules work best.  A habit of dropping by just to be friendly can be counter-productive.  And you'll likely find others avoiding you in the future.

If you do decide to suddenly visit for a friendly "hello" or chat, call or text beforehand.  If you receive a "no," explain that you realize it was a last minute idea and accept whatever else the other person says, ending with, "Thank you; I understand."


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