Dealing with Unannounced Company

Do you have a pesky neighbor who seems to peak his or head in your front door at the worst possible moments? Do you have family members that show up at your door, unannounced of course – right when you are in the middle of dinner or helping the kids with homework? Are there children in your neighborhood that are constantly ringing your door bell? If so, then you have a problem with unannounced company. In most social circles, visiting someone’s home, without calling ahead of time is considered rude behavior whether you are friend or family. Learning to deal with these unannounced visitors in the beginning is essential to nipping the behavior in the bud.

There are tons of tips for dealing with unannounced company. The first, and probably the most important tip– depends upon you. If every single time that nosy neighbor or annoying mother in law comes to the door, you welcome them with open arms and accommodate them completely; you are setting the state for more of the same. If you find that your sister comes over with her 3 bratty children the minute you serve dinner, and you feel the urge to accommodate their dinner needs as well, there is a good chance you are being manipulated and used. Sure, every one wants to be polite and welcoming of guests in their home. Yet, your guests should show you the same respect that you show them, by giving you a heads up and calling before they just show up.

It can be difficult learn how to turn company away. Especially when its family. But in order to set the precedent that a simple phone call is required before ringing your door bell, you have to set boundaries and limits. There is nothing wrong with opening the door to a neighbor, not inviting them in and informing them that you are in the middle of something. Ask them if they could come back the following day, or in a few hours. The same is true with family members. Or, if they must come in – make sure that you don’t make a habit of stopping everything you are doing in its tracks to sit down and host their unannounced visit. If you continue with your chores, or sit back down at your computer to work – they will eventually get the point. In fact, most reasonable people would see this as the time to say something such as, “I see you are busy, I will call you later!”

Of course, there are others who may become upset that you have ‘ignored’ them while they were at your house. These people likely don’t have very many social graces of their own, and you will literally have to be abrupt with them. You can avoid being rude in return by saying something such as, “You are welcome to stay – but I have a deadline to meet on this project, so I have to continue working.” Then carry on about your business. If they don’t take this as their clue to leave – so be it.

You should also let people how you feel about their unannounced visits. You don’t have to do it in the very moment. Instead, wait until you are on the phone with them and make a comment about how someone is always coming to your house without notifying you first. Explain how annoying it is, and how you wish they would just give you the courtesy of a simple phone call. This underhanded message may do the trick. If not, you have to make a point to let your friends and families know that you have a new house rule in effect which is, CALL FIRST. Most people can learn to respect this, and should understand that showing up at your home can be inconvenient at times. In other words, be honest. Tell your sister the next time she shows up at dinner that you didn’t know she was coming, and that you didn’t prepare enough to feed her family. Tell your mom that you need to work and that if she wants to come visit the kids, that’s fine – but you will need some quiet time.

When it comes to children, it is also important to set boundaries that speak volumes about your visiting policy. Many parents allow their kids to wander aimlessly around the neighborhood going door to door looking for available playmates. When they show up, tell them that your child cannot come out and play and that they can call them later. Don’t even allow them to come in the house. After a time or two, the child should be able to figure out that your home does not have a blinking, ‘Always Open,” sign. If it persists, call the parents and explain that while you appreciate their child, you would prefer they call you ahead of time to make play dates.

Another option, is simply not opening the door. This doesn’t mean that you have to hide in the darkest corner of your home until the person drives away. But literally don’t go to the door. If they call you, explain that you were in the shower, or upstairs, or taking a walk. They too will eventually get the point. If their efforts to visit stop working, they will find ulterior methods – such as calling ahead of time, before trespassing on your space and time.

Your home is the one place where you set the rules. It is indeed nice to have family and friends visit from time to time. But your home should not have a revolving door. You deserve to have quiet time, without company – and to have people give you the courtesy of calling you before they intrude in your home. If the tactics above don’t work with certain people in your life, then risk being hurtful to be honest.