Open Thread

by epi on June 4, 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.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Chelsea June 4, 2012 at 3:00 am

I’m in the midst of looking for a new job, while still at my old one. The reason I’m looking to leave is because the managing staff is completely unproffesional. I had lodged a complaint about an assistant manager who was extremely rude to a customer, and now the whole staff has shunned me. Going so far as to give me horrid shifts and no breaks but cutting my shift start by thirty minutes.
When my interviewer asks why I am leaving, what should I say?

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Zakafury June 4, 2012 at 9:13 am

You should come up with a positive and forward-looking response which really answers “Why are you looking for a job Here?” You should avoid complaining about your current workplace.
“I’m excited to work somewhere with more opportunities for advancement.”
“I’m looking for a dedicated [customer service, accounting, etc] position.”

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Rusty Shackleford June 4, 2012 at 9:57 am

Most employers aren’t looking for a detailed response to this question. They mainly want to first, make sure you weren’t fired for misconduct, and second, gauge your true interest in the position they are offering (including whether or not they will be able to offer you comparable salary). I would say first, that you’ve been at your present job for a while, and you feel you’re ready to move on to a new challenge. Also stress what you’re looking for a in a new job. You are like alot of employees in that you want strong, professional management that takes care of customers and employees alike and can resolve disputes fairly. The problem is employers are looking for employees they feel can resolve disputes like the ones you describe without their involvement (doesn’t make it right, I realize). I would say tell an interviewer you are looking to work with strong management that you can learn from and grow with professionally.

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Erin June 4, 2012 at 8:00 am

I have been invited to a graduation party. I am not that close with the parents and I do not know the graduate at all. Will a card suffice, or do I need to bring a gift also? Thanks!

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Jody June 4, 2012 at 8:51 am

Erin, in this case I’d say a card is definitely sufficient. I also think you’re not obligated to attend the party unless you want to — but in either case, respond as soon as possible to the host.

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Zakafury June 4, 2012 at 9:25 am

If you are going to the party, then I recommend a small gift (At most $20). Think of it as both a graduation present and a host gift.

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Jerry June 4, 2012 at 4:49 pm

A card would be nice; you don’t owe a gift for the graduate and may bring a hostess gift.

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Alberta Taubert June 4, 2012 at 2:02 pm

When signing a personal letter or note that I have written, but is from both my husband and myself, do I sign my husband’s name first or mine?

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Chocobo June 4, 2012 at 3:35 pm

The answer to this is that you should write a personal letter from yourself and mention your husband in the content without signing his name. e.g. “Dear Aunt Marie, I was so glad to hear from you … etc. etc. … Robert sends his love too. Sincerely yours, Alberta” or “Dear Mom, Robert and I were so surprised to receive the flowers from you on Christmas, they are really looking lovely on the dining room table … etc. … Love, Alberta”.

You can also write a letter and have your husband sign his own name after you are done, which indicates that he agrees with the content of the letter. In that case his comes second by default, because you wrote the letter and presumably have already signed your name to it.

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Jerry June 4, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Since you asked about a letter from you and your husband, and not a letter from you where you simply mention your husband, I’ll answer that specific question.

It doesn’t really matter. You can sign either name first.

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Chocobo June 5, 2012 at 8:47 am

Jerry, that is what I meant in my response above. The answer to Alberta’s question is that one cannot write a letter from two people at the same time. Therefore the above solutions work if she wishes to include her husband in a personal letter.

The exception is when issuing invitations or writing small notes of congratulations (on a card given with gifts, or whatnot). Either way, Alberta’s husband should always sign his own name.

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Elizabeth June 5, 2012 at 8:55 am

I don’t know that the husband must sign his own name…when my husband and I wrote my thank you notes from my wedding (he wrote some and I wrote some) and we each signed “Love, Elizabeth and Alex.” We did not find it necessary to literally pass the card to the other simply to sign our names. Our signatures themselves did not seem important.

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Jerry June 5, 2012 at 9:21 am

Chocobo: I got that, but I disagree. Two people can be parties to one letter at the same time. The classic example is the Christmas letter that many families include in their cards. These letters are often from husband, wife, and children, and all parties names appear in the signature block, even though one party may sign for all of the others. Another example is one Elizabeth brought up with respect to thank you letters.

The exception, actually, is where the signature is on a legally binding document or a business communication where one party is making statements that could be binding in some way, shape, or form. However, for a friendly letter that just sends the family news, it’s quite alright for Alberta to sign her husband’s name. (She should, of course, offer him the opportunity to review the letter and make sure there’s nothing in it that would bother him. That’s another question, however.)

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Jodi June 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I have to laugh here, Winifred, whether or not you consider the subject closed. In real life, real relationships, I find it a courtesy to include both my husband’s name as well as my own when sending a letter (or email) to someone — perception is more important than implication, in my world. As for the “Mrs. Awful” … I cannot count the number of times I have signed a thank you card or letter with my name, my husband’s name, my children’s names, and yes, even the dog’s name. Did they give me permission to do so? No, but rather than send five or six thank you notes to a friend or family member for hosting us for an evening or weekend, it is much more reasonable to send one and include the names of everyone who sends their thanks. Perhaps you may consider it implied in the note, but I look at it as one last way for everyone to express their thanks. And again, perception is everything.

Chocobo June 6, 2012 at 11:18 am

Jerry, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree, then. I know that it is common for people to sign for others in their family (e.g. the letter signed from everyone at Christmas, including pets sometimes), but that doesn’t make it correct in terms of etiquette. It may be a minor etiquette question, not as pressing as fixing atrocious table manners or keeping weddings from spinning out of control, but it’s still valid and deserves an answer that explains what is proper.

I suppose Ms. Taubert can write her letters however she wishes, but she came to an etiquette website to ask how she should do it, so I assume she wished to know what the correct etiquette is. Everything I have read about writing business or personal letters is that one should is not sign for someone else. We don’t do it in business (at least I hope not), and I honestly can’t understand why that no longer translates to personal letters. A person’s signature should never be forged.

Chocobo June 6, 2012 at 11:28 am

Jodi, I disagree with you on the thank-you note. You don’t have to write five letters. You can either write a general note and have everyone sign for themselves, or write a note from yourself and say something like: “Dear Friend, We all had such a lovely time at your home. The children said it was the most fun they’ve had in a long time, and [husband] won’t stop talking to me about what a great conversation he had with so-and-so.” It doesn’t take any more work than signing for everyone at the bottom.

The point is still made, the hosts are still flattered and thanked properly, and it has the added charm of indicating that you’ve all been talking about the time you had with your friend or family member together. But this way you don’t have to forge the signatures of everyone else. In terms of perception, I agree with Winifred that it seems more honest and ultimately sincere.

Winifred Rosenburg June 5, 2012 at 10:14 am

I mostly agree with Chocobo. According to my EPI book, notes should be signed by the writer only, and the spouse’s name should be included in the content of the note. The book doesn’t elaborate on why, but my guess would be it is a matter of sincerity. While it is possible that Spouse was there the whole time while Writer was writing the note and contributing ideas, that’s not the image that comes across.

Greeting cards, however, can have multiple signatures to indicate that the sentiments come from the whole family. Christmas letters are also an exception, as Jerry pointed out, I suppose for the same reason as greeting cards.

I don’t see anything wrong with signing a spouse’s name for him or her on a card. After all, wives have been doing this for ages!

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Jerry June 5, 2012 at 11:08 am

I don’t have a copy of EPI’s book handy so I can’t comment directly. However, if EPI has a blanket prohibition — as opposed to a mere suggestion as to how to send a personal letter — this may be one of the cases where EPI just got it wrong. (Sort of like how it is not the rule that every wedding invitation one receives obligates them to send a gift.)

What if both spouses wanted to correspond with the recipient? Should each spouse send a separate letter? That would sure be redundant, wouldn’t it?

Winifred: How is it insincere to have two people be a party to one letter? One person does the heavy lifting on the draft, the other person reviews and makes any comments, the senders make sure that the letter uses the pronouns “we” and “us” instead of “me” and “I”, and it goes out. No fuss and no mess, and everyone feels honored.

Winifred Rosenburg June 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm

I didn’t say it was insincere. I said it seemed insincere. The reality is when I get a thank-you card with two names sound I assume it was just written by one person. However if it says “John has been gobbling up the chocolates you sent us” I have no trouble believing it. Generally correspondence from one spouse is considered correspondence from both (one of the perks of being a social unit) so writing two letters would be unnecessary.

Jerry June 5, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Dude, anyone who knows my wife and me knows that correspondence from one is not correspondence from both. Perhaps there is a generational divide here.

Jodi June 5, 2012 at 1:43 pm

As I am not sure where my response will show up in line on the posting …

“Generally correspondence from one spouse is considered correspondence from both (one of the perks of being a social unit) so writing two letters would be unnecessary.”
… which is why it is perfectly reasonable to sign a letter with both names — the social unit.

Winifred Rosenburg June 5, 2012 at 4:30 pm

I’ll let Miss Manners take this one: “They [thank-you notes] should be signed only by the letter writer. Otherwise the day will come when Mrs. awful starts signing her letters ‘Love from Kimberly, Rhino, Lisa, Adam, Jason, Kristen and Fido,’ and at least one of them is not going to have authorized the sentiment. It is perfectly acceptable for her to write ‘Rhino loves the electric shrimp deveiner’ without consulting Rhino.”

As far as I’m concerned when Emily Post and Miss Manners both agree on a subject, the matter is closed. Jodi, you seem to have it backwards. It is unnecassary to write the husband’s name because they are a social unit so his name is effectively implied.

Jerry June 5, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Winifred: You may consider the matter closed with respect to thank you cards. Thinking it through, the slope doesn’t slip as Miss Manners suggests, and I reiterate that there’s no problem with husband and wife both signing a thank you note. That’s what’s done with thank yous for wedding presents and not incorrect.

The issue at hand, however, appears to deal with personal correspondence. Nevertheless, a letter from one partner just isn’t a letter from the other, no matter their social unit status. A letter from me just isn’t the same thing as a letter from my wife, nor should it be.

Michele June 5, 2012 at 8:39 pm

My mother and father in-law live down the block from my family and my sister in-law, her husband and two children live one house away from us also. Almost every evening, my in-laws have dinner with their daughter and son-in-law and grandkids, but they do not invite us. I know this because they eat dinner out on the deck and we can’t help but see them.
To be honest, my feelings are rather hurt. I have never invited one family over and not the other- it just seems unthoughtful. My husband agrees that it is really odd, but he doesn’t know what to do about it. Should I just let it go and put it in the “mystery box” or should I say something? I typically wouldn’t say anything… but this really bothers me.

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Michele June 5, 2012 at 10:20 pm

This is my first time on the Open Thread.
Did I post this question in the wrong area?

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Winifred Rosenburg June 5, 2012 at 11:54 pm

It may seem odd, but it doesn’t violate any etiquette. Perhaps they just prefer not to have too many people over at one time? In any case, you shouldn’t say anything.

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Jerry June 6, 2012 at 9:37 am

I agree with Winifred that you shouldn’t say anything as you can’t force an invite on someone. Your husband, however, could say something to them.

You can also retaliate by throwing dinner parties and not invite your in-laws. Of course, you also have to be comfortable throwing a party out of spite, and many are not.

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Alicia June 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Sounds liek your sister in law and their family who are next door have gotten into the habit of inviting their parents to dinner. Why don’t you simply do the same. Could be that they are concerned that the hassle of making dinner is a hardship for your in laws or just that they like having dinner guests but whatever the reason why not a call over some evening and an impromptu dinner invite for the in laws for whatever you are making.

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Jerry June 5, 2012 at 8:42 pm

EDIT FUNCTION: Jodi, I think you got this right and had a very good way of looking at it.

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Jodi June 5, 2012 at 9:52 pm

Thank you, Jerry — I’m sorry it appeared out of order; I’m not sure how that happens sometimes.

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