My girlfriend and I will be visiting Montréal in a couple of weeks, and I have a few questions on both suggested sights to see, and local etiquette. [more inside]
Please help settle a wee debate about how to go about returning something that I borrowed from a friend, but didn't actually care enough about to watch. [more inside]
Please recommend an appropriate gift for a professor from an auditing (ie, non-credit and ungraded) student. [more inside]
I was not expecting this additional expense and was planning to wear something I already owned. Would it be rude for me to refuse? [more inside]
My super-rich, super-WASPy, tangential in-laws, have invited us to stay with them for a few days. I do not understand their ways and am terrified of making some huge social faux pas and creating offense I don't understand that will last for forty years. What do I wear? What do I say? How do I avoid weird undercurrents? Please advise! [more inside]
My boss just did me a really big favor. I feel the need to give her a thank-you gift, but not sure what's appropriate (or if a gift is appropriate at all). [more inside]
I'm a bit of an etiquette buff. Not that I follow all the rules, but I'm intrigued by what "the rules" are. I was wondering though if there were etiquette books or blogs that address really modern issues. [more inside]
After reading this WSJ article about two types of responders to the work-life balance (the "integrators" who mix up work time and home time, and the "separators" who try to draw a line between the two), I realize that I fall firmly into the first camp. I often write emails at midnight or later, after the kids are asleep and the house is quiet. But is this unfair to the recipients of my late-night messages? [more inside]
I'm bored at work, to the point where I frequently cry at my desk. I want to talk to my manager about it, but I need a script. This is my first office job, and I don't have a lot of experience with this part of the whole working professional deal. Can you help me?
I have hard time meeting people. While driving for lyft, I am very professional and have good reviews and at times I strike up a nice conversation with the riders especially women and feel like getting to know more about the girl(about 5% of time). But I chicken out in the end and just stay professional, wondering if it would be appropriate to ask a girl her number, or if she has a bf etc. Is it okay to ask people out? If so, how you do it without sounding weird? what is a good exit strategy if it doesn't work out?
Next month, my siblings and I will have an interment ceremony when our parents' ashes will be placed in a vault. The vault is on the grounds of the Methodist church they attended and the minister of the church will preside over the ceremony. As none of us are churchgoers, we're in the dark as to the etiquette involved: whether and how much to pay the minister for his services and the mechanics of such a transaction. Cash? Check? Payable to him or the church? Amount? Any guidance appreciated.
I am utterly baffled and confused by the behavior of this person I've been seeing for the past 2,5 months, who has not contacted me in a week, and I am not sure how to proceed from here. [more inside]
I've been watching Downton Abbey. The butler is aghast at the idea of female servants serving food in the family dining room even though there's a shortage of young male servants during the war, but plenty of female staff. Was this historically accurate? What was the reasoning behind it? [more inside]
At work, my supervisor told me that he was in the market to buy an iconic piece of furniture. As it happens, I am currently attempting to sell that exact iconic piece of furniture, and, without much forethought, I told him as much. [more inside]
How do a tactfully request that someone invited to a party does NOT bring their boyfriend? [more inside]
At work, I sit in the middle of a densely packed row of cubicles. There are 7 other people sitting within 6 feet of me. I want to beautify my dull, grey, small cubicle space with fresh cut flowers, ideally replenishing them every 3 weeks or so. Would this be rude to my cubicle mates? [more inside]
Next week I'll spend several days together with clients from Shanghai coming to Europe for a project we are producing for them. As it's the first time we are working for a Chinese client (specifically: an advertising agency and their client), it would be great to know in advance any specific business etiquette (beyond usual international practice), and any relevant cultural pointers to keep in mind during our work together during the day, and dinners (that we will be offering) during the evenings. [more inside]
I didn't talk to other people for six months and now I offend people constantly. How can I ease back into being part of humanity and learn to talk to people in the future without completely alienating them? And perhaps recommendations for etiquette books that are suited to modernity so I can start by having a crack at those. [more inside]
What's the deal with announcing your own engagement and "stealing the thunder" of another wedding? What's the optimal way to set a wedding date with other people's weddings in mind? [more inside]
I think I come across, unintentionally, as a lackluster mentee. I want to be a rock star mentee. Maybe I am just being too hard on myself, but... I also think that my and my mentor's personalities may be ever so slightly incongruous. Not to mention I have a very stressful current-work situation I'm trying to navigate in an effort to make more time for me mentorship. It all makes me feel awkward and insecure. [more inside]
I sent an email to someone with questions about a job listing they posted. Their reply said that the position is still open, but they are on the road and would write back next week. I replied "Great – talk to you then!" It is now six days later. I want to say, hey, are you back yet? but without sounding badgering or unprofessional. What's a good way to say this? This person and business is not formal, so formality is not necessary, just politeness and professional-style respect.
I am unsure if I should invite my coworkers to my baby shower - the dilemma - I live 2,000 miles away from the office. [more inside]
Yes, I know it’s always nice to go as a gesture of support, but how important is it really, in this scenario? [more inside]
Let's say I said something about person B to person A ("Person B is a terrible mother!") and person A relates that to Person B. Do I have to apologize to Person B if I said it in confidence? What if everyone knows I meant it? Would a phony baloney apology make everything better? [more inside]
My wife and I moved into our first home in March of this year. The previous homeowners asked if we could hold onto any mail addressed to them and put it in the mailbox around Friday of each week and they would come by and get it. Fast forward to today and we are still doing this for them. It's a bit tedious and frustrating to still have to do this and I'd like to find a way to politely find a way to get out of doing this - otherwise it feels like we may be doing this indefinitely. [more inside]
I have a two-year-old, and occasionally I take her out to a restaurant. (Nothing fancy or inappropriate for kids -- think Chili's.) She sits in a high chair and she's pretty well-behaved, but she drops a lot of food on the floor (because she's two). What is the best way to handle this situation? [more inside]
I realize this could be a judgment call, but I'd like to know if there are any good rules when acknowledging a face lift. [more inside]
Thanks for your response! Sorry about clogging your inbox with gratitude. [more inside]
I'm taking my first sick day in a long time, after my boss told me to go home from a meeting because I had actually lost my voice. I'm not good at knowing when feeling crappy merits taking a sick day and when it merits just sucking it up and hauling yourself in to work, especially if you have meetings planned or are supposed to be teaching a group. How do you decide that the level of sick you're feeling is sick enough to require calling in?
Is it polite to invite person A at the last minute to a party (in this case, my darling SO's birthday celebration)? I am feeling somewhat anxious about this occasion already and don't want to offend or exclude anyone. I know this is only a big deal in my own mind, and probably in no-one else's, but it is one of a couple of minor things I am feeling a bit stressed about as the day approaches. [more inside]
Another question about my sister. She has a large pit bull and brings him everywhere (unless it's inconvenient, in which case she leaves him with a friend or family member). She wants to bring him to our house for Christmas. I don't want him to come. [more inside]
I'm looking for relatively inexpensive, cute, thank you cards/stationary for a ton of thank yous for baby gifts and not having much luck finding them! [more inside]
I'm a US citizen applying for jobs in London. I've excited to have been shortlisted and offered a couple of interviews. What should I expect? What should I wear? More below the fold. [more inside]
I got married in a small courthouse ceremony last December. I wore a normal purple dress. My sister-in-law is getting married this weekend. Would it be a faux pas if I wore the same dress to her wedding? [more inside]
Is there a polite way to say, "Actually, we were hoping it would just be [SO and I] sitting together?" [more inside]
My wife has started doing some freelance writing, and her first story will be published in tomorrow's edition of our local newspaper. Yay! Unfortunately, someone in the editorial chain made several errors, including misspelling a simple word in a section they (poorly) rewrote, and misspelling the name of one of the subjects of the story in several of the photo captions. They also rewrote another portion into a bunch of short, choppy sentences that totally ruin the flow of the article. How should she respond? [more inside]
In a middle-of-the-road restaurant (i.e. not upscale, but not fast food), is it or is it not okay to leave a bunched-up, used tissue on a finished plate, alongside a bunched-up napkin, leftover food scraps and used cutlery?
Received a Save the Date for a wedding for a couple we'd like to be less close with, but didn't receive a real invite. What to do? [more inside]
The wife of one of my office' higher ups has a birthday coming up, and a colleague's wife is planning a lavish birthday blast. Can I bow out early without hurting anyone's feelings? [more inside]
I am responsible for introducing (in English) a number of honoured guests from Japan at an event in Canada. I am looking for the appropriate English honorifics (His Excellency, Her Honour, etc) for some specific government officials, as well as some general honorifics. [more inside]
I used to be great at replying to emails and texts; now I am not. I need some ideas for methods to help me reply to people in a timely way. I could also do with some input into what is realistically considered "timely". [more inside]
I'm a bridesmaid in a wedding this summer which will take place 30 minutes from my house. The facility has cabins which guests are invited to stay in. Awhile ago the bride told me that she is paying for the wedding party to stay overnight. She asked if my boyfriend would be staying overnight and I said yes, assuming that he would be covered too. I just got an email pay-pal request from her for $80 for my boyfriend's share. [more inside]
I have a milestone birthday coming up and an incredibly lovely friend has taken it upon herself (with my blessing) to invite people to my place for a low key celebration (yay!). Unfortunately, she also accidentally invited a friend of mine whose boyfriend I can't stand. [more inside]
Yesterday I was minding my own business, working on my laptop in a "McCafe", when someone approached the table and handed me a sketch (portrait of me) they had drawn. I thanked him and complimented the drawing. But how would you react? [more inside]
So, my spouse of 20 years has weeks to live according to the hospice nurse who came today. [more inside]
What is a word (or phrase!) for the unpredictable imposition of irrationally high standards? Further description/examples inside. [more inside]
I am currently living in Austria, where it is typical for people entering a semi-public space (e.g. doctor's office, barber shop) to greet the entire room and receive a greeting back. What is the appropriate response when greeted with "salaam alaikum" (selamün aleyküm)? [more inside]
Would love to hear feedback from someone familiar with municipal HR practices. Yesterday I interviewed for a position with a city department. The interview was set up by someone from city HR, but was I was actually interviewed by people in the department. At the end of the interview, the contact from HR told me I could not contact the interviewers, but I could direct questions to her (the HR contact). I believe this is all because of various regulations regarding city hiring. When I've been interviewing for other jobs (private companies), I have sent a post-interview "thanks" email to the interviewer. Since I can't contact the people I interviewed with, is it appropriate to send a "thank you for organizing the interview" email to the HR person who has been my point of contact so far?
A friend just lost her baby in the second trimester of pregnancy. She's invited me to the funeral. I want to go to support her. I cannot imagine the pain she's going through. But I'm 8 months pregnant and all is going fine. Would this be upsetting for her? [more inside]
I'm a native U.S. English-speaker, they might not have been. I've twice been at U.S. job interviews where I haven't been able to understand my interviewer; they had an accent and I couldn't tell what words they were saying, even after they slowed down and repeated. How should I handle this? [more inside]