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    Miss Conduct

    How do I politely get uninvited guests to leave?

    I like to see them, but would appreciate a little advance notice.

    I have friends who always stop at my summer house without any notice. I just need a polite way I can rebuff them.

    C.B. / North Truro

    “Oh, hey! How nice to see you. Thanks for the zucchini. Right now isn’t a good time, but I’ll see you at the McGuffins’ karaoke party Saturday? Great!” Something like that is what you say, using appropriate values for “zucchini” and “karaoke party.”

    The important thing isn’t what you say, it’s that you say it while standing in the door with a vaguely distracted air. Don’t let them in, don’t offer excuses — “not a good time” is as specific as you get. Be enthusiastic and upbeat so that they don’t worry about you, which could lead to future drop-ins just to check on you (“you seemed so out of sorts last time!”).


    After one or two of these demonstrations, mention to Dottie Drop-In that, honestly, you would love to see her more, but could she give you 30 minutes’ (or 24 hours’) notice next time?

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    Note: This also applies to winter houses.

    Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.

    Send your questions to Miss Conduct at