Readers’ questions answered.
I am hoping that you could help me find a solution for properly responding to offers to shake hands in business situations. You see, I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, which I don’t particularly want to announce upon meeting someone new. Handshaking is very painful for my affected hands and causes visible wincing. A weak handshake seems inappropriate, however. What would you advise for this unfortunate side effect of RA?
In business or in social situations, a woman is not required or expected to shake hands, whether meeting a man or a woman. She acknowledges an introduction or a greeting by nodding her head and smiling and saying “How do you do? It is perfectly acceptable to leave your hands at your side during this exchange. If this seems old-fashioned and awkward to you, a delicate handshake from a woman is nothing to be ashamed of. Finally, if all else fails, you could say something to the effect of “I’ve just broken my finger” as an excuse to get out of handshaking without going into the details of your condition. This is all done with new acquaintances by the way. Once you know someone you can confide what you will. (See A Man Stands for more on this subject.)
Our current part-time housekeeper reports to work in NASCAR t-shirts and blue jeans. I am looking to hire a full-time housekeeper, and I told my wife I would like her to wear a uniform. I would provide the housekeeper with a professional outfit and provide for routine dry cleaning. My wife however says I’m living in a different time, suggesting this is no longer appropriate.
What is your opinion?
Since when is getting what you want when you are paying for it inappropriate? This is someone who will be in your house everyday and it is your right to have this employee adhere to your desires. I hear people talk all the time about what they can and can’t do in front of the nanny, the housekeeper the this and the that. I have always been told that staff are there to fit into your life, not you into theirs. As long as you treat your employees with professionalism and respect you are entitled to have them represented as you wish. Just be sure to state this clearly in the interview process in order to give the candidate the option if a uniform is something he or she feels comfortable wearing, perhaps even offering them choices on which they prefer.
I was hoping you could give me some tips on using a money clip. I just bought a real neat Elsa Peretti design from Tiffany. I never could get the hang of shoving a wallet in my pocket. At any rate, I’ve got no idea how you’re supposed to fold the bills, or how much you’re supposed to carry, and so on. Anyhow, your insights come in handy so please keep ‘em coming.
I hear you on the disdain for a wallet thing. I too do not like a lump in the back of my pants especially when in black tie, driving or sitting for long periods. I usually just carry my debit card and ID in my back pocket and leave it at that. As for the correct way, I can’t say that there is one. Just take what you feel comfortable with and need to get you through the day. I will say that it’s been my experience that bills are folded in a tri-fold and placed in the clip, along with your credit/debit card and ID, if you so choose.
It seems I am one of the few people in my social circle who sends Thank You notes. Consequently, I am often “thanked” for my “thank you” card. I am confused as how to respond. I’ve tried “You’re welcome” and “Well, I do appreciate ______”, and even “It was my pleasure”…but these all seems silly, considering I was the one who wanted to give thanks! Do you have any suggestions?
It is a running joke with some of my friends who thank each other for their thank you. Funny. But as you say, not necessary. If someone insists on thanking you for your thank you just accept it politely and change the subject. No need to keep up an endless thank you wheel. Unless of course it’s a Vaudeville act and you are taking it on the road.
When socializing at work or in your personal life, sometimes you meet someone who comes in and out of your circle without any real consistency. What should you do when such a person, who you have a cordial relationship with, has clearly forgotten your name? I ask this question because this very scenario has come up at work, where a person much higher up in the company and I have had multiple conversations about our alma matter, but I’m fairly certain he doesn’t remember my name any more. Is there a polite way to remind him without awkwardly bringing attention to the fact that he forgot my name?
I don’t know how far along you are with this gent, but it seems you may have let it go too far. I always remind people of my name when meetings are sporadic, even adding a little bio of how they know me. “We met at the Smiths” or “It was great to see you at the game last week”. Especially if the person in question is of so-called “higher rank”. These people tend to meet many people and often forget names. It is proper as well as polite to always remind people of your name each time you meet, until of course, you are sure they remember, then such reminders would be ridiculous. For more on social introduction, check out this post.
I was curious about your thought of taking off sunglasses when being introduced to someone. Think summer daytime wedding not lake day with pals. I have always felt like this was needed, but also felt odd taking off my glasses constantly. Am I just being self conscious or is there some basic thought behind doing this?
SP is a big fan of sunglasses and must admit to failing to remove mine much of the time. My excuse is that my sunglasses are prescription and hence sometimes I wear them late into the day when I have forgotten to bring my regular pair. But it is perfectly polite to greet someone for a short hello while wearing sunglasses. It is only if you intend to embark on deep conversation that you would remove the shades. And of course you should remove them as a sign of respect when meeting someone for the first time or encountering a person of higher rank, i.e older or important.
The explosion of twitter/Facebook/texting seems to be replacing face-to-face socializing, and I, for one, think it is a shame. Thus, I recently made a commitment to schedule more dinners and outings with friends and loved ones, however, I am encountering some issues which leave me puzzled. Here is one example.
Yesterday, I sent a friend an email asking if he would be free either next Friday night or during the day Saturday to meet for a meal. I was going to be near his home and thought it would be an opportune time to get together. My friend let me know he would not be available either time, however, he offered no suggestion for another date. Should he have? Should I? Or should I simply say “I regret we cannot get together but I would love to see you soon.” Also, if you are extended an invitation and accept, should you then be the next one to set a date to get together?
Any advice would be appreciated.
The explosion of electronic communication notwithstanding, the rules for communication are as old as Emily Post. We are still required to respond no matter how the invitation was received, but it is perfectly acceptable to respond in kind: text to text, email to email, phone to phone. Your friend has the responsibility to offer another time to meet since he was not available for the times you’ve suggested. If he fails to do so, which it seems he did, then your response would be appropriate and leave it in his court. And yes, if you’ve accepted someone’s invitation, you are the one to extend the next invitation. This is what we mean when we say “social obligation.”
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