Open Thread

by epi on May 4, 2012

Welcome to the Etiquette Daily

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.

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Pam May 4, 2012 at 12:22 pm

I have a friend who suffers from depression. She is in treatment daily and is doing better. I try and call her on most days and check in. The issue is that she often does not listen to things I say. I have told her that I need to speak with her cell to cell, because I share minutes with my family and we often end up running low. I know she needs to talk, so often I let it go, but sometimes I really cannot, so I end up having to keep asking “could you please call from your cell?” Otherwise I cannot talk until after 9pm.” (I don’t have a landline right now.) In addition, she chooses the same 2 restaurant chains, neither of wish I like in the least for when we go out. We live in New York, so there are a million other places we can go. I have given these restaurants a chance in the past, but they are not very good at all and it is hard for me to find things to eat as I don’t eat meat. However, when she does not like a place, she makes it known. I have said in the past, very politely “oh Susan, you know, I really can’t find anything there, perhaps we can go somewhere else and you can go to _________ with Carol or John, who like that restaurant. And we could go somewhere else? ” But then 3 months later she will be bring it up again, and I feel like a broken record and that I am being difficult. I have tried to coach myself not to feel guilty if I cannot take her call when she won’t call on the cell, because I know it will just keep happening, or to suck it up and go to the awful restaurant, but then I end up regretting my decision. Should I just keep politely reinforcing the above or not take her calls as much? I almost feel as though our previous conversations have not even taken place because I’m just repeating myself.

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Winifred Rosenburg May 4, 2012 at 1:42 pm

You have been a good friend to this person, and it is time for her to be a good friend to you as well. While you should provide certain allowances to those suffering from depression (I was depressed for a few years so I understand), being depressed does not actually stop someone from complying with simple requests. You have told her several times not to call from a landline before 9pm so you should not answer your phone if she does it again. If you like you can call her back after 9 (if you happen to know she will be available for phone calls after 9) or call her right back on her cell. If she asks why you didn’t answer, you can explain.

As far as the restaurant goes, if you would like to continue your friendship with her, you will have to continue repeating yourself as many times as is necessary. The next time she asks, just say “that restaurant doesn’t have a lot of vegetarian options. How about…”

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Pam May 4, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Thank you, Winifred. Sometimes I feel such guilt because I keep saying “she is dealing with depression,” so I give her a pass on everything. I will try to just keep reinforcing both solutions for the phone and restaurants. Thank you again.

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Vanna Keiler May 4, 2012 at 2:55 pm

I agree with Winifred’s response. You have been a good friend, and probably a good source of comfort and solace to her during her depression. I would not get bogged down by details of the “when, where, and how” of your friendship. Instead, like Winifred suggested, don’t answer your phone if it is inconvenient for you, and perhaps forego the restaurant trip in place of meeting at a park, coffee house or some other venue for some get-together time. Obviously you do not share the same tastes in food, and perhaps your friend is simply comforted by frequenting the same haunts. With depression, it’s hard to say what could make someone more depressed or uneasy. I’m guessing she is not keen on trying anything new, seeking some normalcy or constancy in her life. Therefore, I would try not take it personally or feel annoyed/resentful for her constant desire to go to the same two restaurants. Maybe when she gets better she will be more palatably adventurous! :)

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Victoria May 4, 2012 at 1:09 pm

I recently completed a PhD, and received the sweetest gift–business cards and an engraved card case from a very close friend. However, the cards and holder read:
Dr. Victoria Evans, PhD.

I do not believe it is appropriate to have BOTH “Dr.” AND “PhD.” is it? I am in a quandary, because I do not know if I should use these anyway because it was such a thoughtful gift, or if I should try to have them reprinted, or if I am wrong and maybe it IS acceptable to have both the title and the degree?

Thank you for your help!
Victoria

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Winifred Rosenburg May 4, 2012 at 1:57 pm

You are right that using both isn’t correct. It should not have the “Dr.” Could you reserve the cards just for friends and family whom you are confident won’t consider you less professional because of this slight error and get new ones for everyone else?

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Pam May 4, 2012 at 2:34 pm

My understanding that one is not supposed to use both. Will this friend ever see your professional desk? If not, perhaps you could keep the ones she made you at a home office, as a reminder of your accomplishment and a reminder of what a sweet friend you have. If she is in your home, she will see them displayed. Then, get the exact set reprinted for your professional use. Congratulations on your PhD!

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Jerry May 4, 2012 at 7:05 pm

The answer to this question really depends on your field. Some fields use “Dr.” with no Ph.D. following; others use both “Dr.” and “Ph.D.”

Winifred is absolutely wrong, however, when she suggests you cannot or should not address yourself as Dr. Evans or Dr. Victoria Evans. You have earned that right.

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Pam May 5, 2012 at 12:10 pm

I am wondering if Winifred merely meant that, on a business card, having the PhD printed after the name was more appropriate than having “Dr.” written out. I don’t believe she was saying that Victoria should not be addressed as “Dr.” verbally. I will have to keep my eyes open to how people with PhDs tend to have their names written out on formal cards or letterhead.

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Jerry May 5, 2012 at 3:00 pm

I’m sure that Winifred can speak for herself if she has the desire or feels the need to clarify. In any case, my advice stands — it depends on the industry as to whether one should have “Dr.” on a business card.

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Pam May 6, 2012 at 12:18 am

Jerry, why are you so hostile on this site? People should feel comfortable writing on here and getting advice without phrases like “absolutely wrong” being thrown around. It seems the etiquette books have not quite sunk in for you and I am thinking that those who run the site should suggest the same. You seem extremely angry and have a real superiority complex.

Winifred Rosenburg May 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Yes, that is what I meant. PhD conveys that she is a doctor so it’s redundant to use both. Also according to Miss Manners Dr., Mr. Ms. etc. should not be used on business cards.

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Chocobo May 11, 2012 at 9:53 am

As I understand it, a business card should only have “Firstname Lastname, Degree” for a name. One never gives oneself a title on a business card. For example, those of us with less advanced degrees do not put “Ms. Octavia Williams, M.B.A” or “Mr. Richard Fanning, B.S.” on our professional business cards, so it follows that a Ph.D. should not use the title “Dr.” on a business card either. It does not depend on the industry. Medical doctors and doctors of philosophy both should not use the title “Dr.” on their professional cards as it is both redundant and bordering on pretentious.

Really fastidious people may not print their degree at all, instead they simply print their professional title (“Oncologist”, “Professor,” “Director of Research”) underneath their name and leave it at that. It is assumed that to hold their position (as a medical doctor, professor, or head researcher, for example) their level of education is already required, again making their degree information redundant.

I think Pam’s idea is very good. Keep the current cards in your office and give them out to people who you know will not raise an eyebrow, and get the same set reprinted without the prefix to use professionally.

Victoria, congratulations on your Ph.D. and your great taste, and best of luck to you in the future.

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Pam May 6, 2012 at 12:23 am

And Jerry, it seems that in your haste to lash out at me, you missed the fact that I wrote “I am wondering if Winifred meant…” which would give her the opportunity to clarify. This is supposed to be a civil exchange of ideas and thoughts regarding etiquette, not a place to talk down to people and occupy the space with your closed-minded “my way or the highway” comments. You are exactly why other people seek out etiquette sites…we need to figure out how to deal with judgmental people like you.

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Jerry May 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Pam: Thank you for your comments. Some things in life are, indeed, absolutely wrong. (Most things are shades of grey.) Winifred’s advice — that “it isn’t [ever]” correct to have “Dr.” and “Ph.D.” on a card is one of those that is, indeed, absolutely wrong. Why? Please see the advice I offered above. Victoria asked a question, I offered an answer, end of story.

I’m sorry you feel I’ve “lashed out.” I think you’re overly sensitive. I certainly read the first clause of your first sentence: it seemed to be an indirect or a passive aggressive way of making a declaration. (If you really wanted Winifred to clarify something, the best way to do this would have been for you to ask a question: “Winifred, did you mean X?”) Passive aggression is rude, and indirect communication is generally not effective.

I won’t respond to your personal attacks that were rude, closed-minded, and judgmental — indeed, all the things you accused me of — from someone who has never met me. My reading of etiquette columns suggests that most people need advice as to how to deal with people who offer back handed compliments or passive aggressive declarations. Often — not always, but often — the answer is to assert yourself. If don’t like my posts, don’t read them.

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Winifred Rosenburg May 6, 2012 at 4:03 pm

It is in fact possible to be clear on your position without being overly confrontational. I assure you, if you used phrases like “I disagree with Winifred” instead of “Winifred is absolutely wrong” everyone will be perfectly clear on your position without feeling as though you are lashing out at anyone. I can also guarantee that having tact and being passive aggressive are not the same thing, which is one of the primary principles behind etiquette.

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Jody May 7, 2012 at 6:38 pm

I’m sorry Jerry, but I have no sympathy for you here. Other posters seem to be able to express disagreements without being confrontational, but your responses come across as confrontational. Why are we “overly sensitive” for expressing our opinion of your treatment of others? It appears we’ve given you the benefit of the doubt for many posts.

In my opinion, a mark of good etiquette is the ability to express disagreement without saying “you’re way off the bat,” or “you’re flat-out wrong” or “where did you come up with that crazy idea.” It is a difficult thing to do and none of us is claiming to be perfect, but most of us can do it without insulting others.

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Jerry May 7, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Jody: I don’t know who this “we” is that you’re talking about. I said that Pam is overly sensitive. I stand by that statement. I’m certainly not looking for sympathy — I need none. In any case, I see no substantive difference between saying that someone is “not correct” (as Winifred said Victoria’s friend was) and saying someone is “absolutely wrong,” as I said. These are both absolute statements.

Winifred: If you were offended or upset, I am sorry that my words had that effect. I hope you understand that it’s not a personal attack. I stand by my statement, however, as to how to determine what’s correct on a business card. If anyone disagrees, that’s fine by me.

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Vanna Keiler May 8, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Ladies and Gentleman: let us look at this thread and examine where high emotions overtake general consideration and etiquette. There were many examples of poor etiquette exchange – from pointing out others’ faults and making one feel unwelcome on this site, to continuing the verbal combative exchange. As we are all human and many of us make these exact same errors in our every day lives (e.g. supermarket, gas station…dare I say, highways?), we should all breathe deeply and remember that we are ALL learning on this site. So to each of you, please know that at least in my opinion, your opinions and suggestions are always welcome and let’s move beyond this. I hope everyone reading this forgives and forgets so we can bring out the best in each other.

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