Open Thread

by epi on March 16, 2012

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This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Johanna March 16, 2012 at 11:56 am

Dear Emily Post blog commenters,

I am curious to hear about your approaches in order to deal with smoking friends. I have read the comments on the following two pages on how to deal with smoking guests and adults smoking in front of children and I think the directions are straightforward and correspond to my principles:
http://www.etiquettedaily.com/2009/06/not-in-our-house-guests-who-smoke/
http://www.etiquettedaily.com/2011/02/smoke-alarm-should-you-scold-a-smoking-mom/
However, I would like to hear how you go about politely asking a friend not to smoke in the following environments (and whether it is appropriate to ask them to refrain):
- In a public space where smoking is allowed and others are smoking (clubs and bars in countries where there is no ban on smoking in those venues for now)
- In the smoking friend’s home
- In the open air
Of course I know I should just kindly ask them, but I am wondering whether you have certain phrases that work better than others or to hear what reactions you have gotten on those requests.
I am also considering what the best ways are to maybe decline joining these friends in places where smoking is allowed or redirecting them to come with us to a space where smoking is forbidden while remaining polite, maintaining the friendship and if asked, stating your reasons for declining and redirecting in a diplomatic way.

Thank you for sharing your tactics with me!

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Just Laura March 16, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I do not smoke, and do not like smoking.
However, I would never tell a smoking friend to not smoke while in the smoking friend’s home. It is her home, after all. If I could not stand it, I would instead ask her to my home.
I would also not ask a friend to refrain from smoking in an area where others are smoking and smoking is allowed. I may ask that she blow it away from us, but if others are smoking then the second-hand smoke is still reaching me, regardless of my friend’s actions.
If in simple open air, I usually stand noticeably back from friends when they light up. Normally, they ask why, and I tell them I’m sensitive to smoke (whether from allergies or an illness, it matters not). They usually apologize for not asking first, smoke their cigarette to completion, and seldom light up around me again. Since the air is open, standing back keeps much of the smoke from hitting me, and we may continue our conversation without awkwardness.

I currently live in a state where few bars are non-smoking. When friends invite me to one that is particularly smokey, I decline with the reason that my contacts burn after a while. All my friends have been understanding of this (how could they hold it against me?), and we head to the non-smoking establishments on other evenings.

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Johanna March 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Thank you for your opinion, Laura! I needed some reassurance.

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Carolyn M. March 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm

I am the MOG. There will be showers 3 hours out of town. I will attend a shower in my city. should I travel to the ones out of town as well?

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Alicia March 19, 2012 at 8:40 am

Only if you want to. You are not required to do so.

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emily March 18, 2012 at 10:25 am

when addressing wedding invitations to a single person, the the house mate (not a significant other..just a house mate) who is not a personal friend of the bride or her family need to be included on the invitation?

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Alicia March 19, 2012 at 8:39 am

Roomates do not need to be included on the guest list. Live in significant others do need to be included.
Simply address it to the person invited with no mention of a roomate.

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Shelley Sides March 18, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I was always taught that it was inappropriate for a man to start speaking to a woman he has never met, or visa versa, in public. I understood the rule to be suspended if one was “under one roof” such as a school or club. Please review the current thinking on this subject. I confess that I hope the rules have not changed, and that “friendliness” has not become a cover for rudeness. Any elaboration on this subject is welcome. Thank you.

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Alicia March 19, 2012 at 8:38 am

This is no longer true. One can absolutely introduce one self to others and begin speaking with new people. How would you ever meet friends when you move to a new town if you could never speak to someone new? The trick is to smile at them first. If they smile back you can make a casual comment on the place you are or something going on around you and at that point if they seem receptive begin conversation and introduce yourself.

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Winifred Rosenburg March 19, 2012 at 10:39 am

I’m not sure that the rule has been entirely suspended. A quick search through my etiquette book collection showed a Miss Manners column in which she said one shouldn’t start conversations with strangers on a plane, but no other mention of the rule. (By the way, the rule applies to all conversations with strangers, not just those across gender lines.) I’m not sure of other guidelines for when it is or isn’t acceptable. Personally, I find it off-putting if someone starts a conversation with me on a bus or subway. Wouldn’t it be nice if EPI would elaborate on the subject? :)

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Country Girl March 19, 2012 at 12:35 pm

This comment sort of surprised me! I have never heard such a rule. =) Growing up in a rural town, I have always experienced it to be considered far more rude to not converse with people you come in contact with. A word about the weather, shared situation, or last night’s sporting event. In living in a few different areas of the country, to me it has always seemed truly commonplace (gender aside) to make small talk with strangers in the store, on a plane, at the park, etc (so long as you are taking cues from the person on when the conversation has finished and are obviously not bringing up sensitive or personal topics).

I personally hope being friendly is never considered rude. I have met some great people, men and women, in public places with small talk initiated either by them or me. (That is in fact how I got my college internship.) It always brightens my day to have a stranger say a friendly word or just acknowledge my existence; it reminds me that we are all on this ride of life together. =)

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Sarah March 19, 2012 at 5:18 pm

As a function of my job, I am sometimes invited to black tie affairs via email invitations. I’ve always assumed that if one is invited to such a function without any mention of bringing a guest in the invitation, that one is simply invited solo. I have noticed, however, that my colleagues often show up to these events with (non-spouse) guests (for whom they’ve RSVP’d), despite the fact that their invitations are identical to mine. Is it rude to reply to the host to ask if a guest is included in the invitation? I’d rather not put the host organization on the spot, as THEY may consider it rude to outright deny the inclusion of a guest, but otherwise I find the process confusing without the helpful clarity of a paper envelope addressed to “attendee + guest”.

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Winifred Rosenburg March 19, 2012 at 10:24 pm

You were right to go solo. If they wanted to invite you with a guest, they could have indicated it somewhere like in the email subject.

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Maggie March 20, 2012 at 4:20 am

I think it depends upon the type of event, Sarah. If it’s a private party at someone’s home, a wedding, or some event where you can imagine the budget or space is constrained, I would definitely not ask to bring a guest. But, at least at my job, the black tie affairs are often fundraisers or tributes to clients for which my employer has reserved a table or purchased a set number of tickets. When I first started, I went solo to those too, but it quickly became clear that, for those kinds of events, it’s really better for the firm’s table to be full as a show of support to the client or cause. So for those events, I’ll sometimes email the organizer and say something like, “if there’s space for guests, my fiance would enjoy that event as well.” I just make sure to leave the organizer an opening to tell me that space is limited.

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