Open Thread

by epi on September 21, 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.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

K. September 21, 2012 at 1:07 am

My husband and I moved to a new town about a year ago. He works and I am currently looking for work. We socialize with his coworkers (who are much older than us) every once in a while, but I would like to make some friends our own age. I’ve always had so many friends in high school and college where I grew up, but it is actually surprisingly hard to make friends now that we are adults in a new town!

I have looked for clubs in the area to no avail, and we don’t currently have the funds to go out to bars or join a gym like we used to. If I meet someone in the grocery store or library it would feel too creepy to immediately ask them for their number or out to lunch. My question is… how do you make friends as an adult? How do you meet people and pursue a friendship without coming across as creepy/desperate?

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Alicia September 21, 2012 at 7:59 am

It is much harder to make friends in a new town as an adult. I’ve moved a few times. Some of my best tricks. 1. Become a regular somewhere anywhere even if you just always go to the library on Wednesday evenings. You will see the same people and after seeing peiople a few times conversations happen and after a few conversations friends happen.
2. Join groups meetup.org has a bunch but most small towns have different groups. Find something you like to do and then join a group for it. A running group a hiking group a sewing group a history group a charity group does not matter. Intermural sports are particularly great for this.
3 Friends will happen but they are slower to form them as kids and teens when you were with people all the time.

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Leslie September 21, 2012 at 10:14 am

Hello K.,

When I moved ten years ago, I met a lot of the people I know now through volunteering. If you have an interest in helping animals, children, the elderly, veterans, the homeless, etc., those are ready-formed groups that are always looking for new members. Automatically, you have a shared experience to discuss and you’re doing good work to boot!

Many communities, even small ones, also have some form of community education either through a school district or a community center. Find a class on something you would like to know more about (our small town has classes on crafts, exercise, sports, music and dance, cooking, computers, pet training, wine selection, and a host of others I can’t recall all geared for adults) and see if you can find people of similar interests that way.

Another easy option, if you are religious, is join the church of your choice and scour the newsletter for things you might enjoy participating in.

Finally, there’s always the option of hosting your own “Let’s meet our neighbors” party, and inviting those around you to your house for the evening. Getting involved in a neighborhood association is good for “meeting the locals” too.

Just some thoughts. I hope some of this helps!

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Just Laura September 21, 2012 at 11:29 am

This is a great suggestion. I was new to this state 3 years ago, and volunteering really helped me make new friends. I made others a few months later when I started work, and still others friends were made by attending events (wine/food pairings, tailgating, etc.). Back where I used to live, many of the museums and historical societies would host various events – gala fundraisers, art walks, learn-to-garden-colonial-style, tours, and more!

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Clara September 21, 2012 at 1:08 pm

I am a librarian so I definitely encourage you to join a book chat or any other groups or events that are at the library. However, it may be best that you attend exercise classes or programs that take place in the evening, as most of the daytime classes and events are made up of senior citizens. There are often jewelry classes, knit and crochet(not always made up of just older people), crafts and many other events. The other ideas listed are also fantastic.

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Scarlett September 21, 2012 at 11:17 am

Dear Friends-I have a business etiquette question, but first I would like to thank you all for previous advice and also say how much I enjoy this site. While I don’t post often, I do visit this site daily and enjoy reading the thoughtful commentary.

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Scarlett September 21, 2012 at 11:41 am

I’m sorry if my question posts twice, but it looked like it got cut off when I submitted it. The question was, how much notice to your current employer is acceptable when separating from service, and does it depend upon your position/responsibilities? The norm (rule?) used to be 2 weeks, minimum. Lately, I am aware of people giving less than 2 weeks, and in some cases only a week. Is this a new trend? Perhaps it is a product of the current economy/job market that a job seeker would not pass up a better opportunity just because he/she was not able to give a full 2 weeks notice. I appreciate your thoughts. Thank you.

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Alicia September 21, 2012 at 11:54 am

Two weeks is standard. If offered a new job it says something negative about the new company if you tell them you wish to give your former job two weeks notice and they balk at that idea. One week or less and you are really leaving your former company in a lurch. Now if you are a temp things are different and if you go to your current company and say you are willing to give two weeks but would prefer one and they are ok with that then that is reasonable. Also some corporate cultures once you say you are leaving want you gone so in that sort of environment less notice is needed. Really no firm rule but leaving folks in the lurch is not nice and will be their final impression of you and that is not the lasting impression you want to give someone.

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Nina September 21, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Hi Scarlett,

I agree with Alicia but would add two things: 1) sometimes you will be contractually obligated to provide a certain amount of notice. When I was hired, I signed something that said I had to give two-weeks notice if I left the job.

2) If you are going to be very hard to replace, if your job requires a lot of on-the-job training or something like that, it is a kind thing to give more than the standard two weeks notice if you can. Sometimes you don’t know you are leaving more than two weeks out, other times you are worried that your boss or colleagues will be hostile after you give notice, but if at all possible give your team as much time to replace you as you can–they’ll appreciate it and it’s good employment karma.

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Just Laura September 21, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Because I’ve always had very specialized jobs, in the past I’ve given my employers at least one month to find someone (in one case 2 1/2 months… my graduate work and work experience are very specific). However, as others have said, two weeks is really the bare minimum if one wants to remain professional.

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Jerry September 21, 2012 at 12:18 pm

There is no fixed formula except, as Alicia has already said, is try not to do anything that will screw your former colleagues. (Why is this a consideration? Because you will most likely run into these people years down the line. When that happens, you want them to think well of you.) But timing is up to you. You may need only a few days to extricate yourself from your current projects if you’re blue collar or a paraprofessional; you might need a month to extricate yourself if you’re essential to a certain project.

The bottom line, though, is that you do not owe your current employer anything. Unless you’ve got a contract (rare in this day), you can quit with no notice at all! I have a rule of treating my employer as I’ve seen it treat others. If the employer has fired people with no notice (and had security escort those people out), I’d give no notice when I quit! If the employer has been decent, but not great, I’d give the employer a week, pass the work off to someone else, and move on. If the prior employer had been great — provided you great opportunities for growth and the like — I’d ask the employer how much time it would need to transition someone on to your projects.

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Chocobo September 24, 2012 at 9:35 am

Two weeks notice is still the standard, but if you are in a position that might require a little more time to wrap things up, a bit more would be wise so that you don’t end up leaving your coworkers (and future professional network) in a bind. Most people are not legally or contractually obligated to give much more notice than that, but it looks unprofessional and hurts your image to give less than two weeks. I agree with Alicia that temporary positions are somewhat different, companies expect that temporary workers and interns are often trying to get permanent positions, so less notice is needed.

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Scarlett September 21, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful advice. I knew I could count on you!!! Have a wonderful weekend.

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Lucy September 23, 2012 at 6:14 pm

My boyfriend of several months will soon be the best man in his brother’s wedding. His invite and RSVP were, of course, sent months before he and I begun to see each other so I was naturally not invited. He has, however, taken it upon himself to ask the bride and groom if I may attend as his guest. As they are a gracious couple, they generously agreed to make the last-minute changes to include me in their big day. I’ve met the couple a few times, however this weekend wedding will be the first time I meet the rest of my beau’s family. While I am anxious to present myself well to his parents, grandparents and siblings, I’d prefer to not be thought of as an ungracious last-minute addition, or worst of all draw any attention from the bride and groom. What is the proper etiquette for a situation such as this?

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Chocobo September 24, 2012 at 9:41 am

Don’t worry, you won’t draw too much attention to yourself. Although it is always exciting to meet a new addition to the family, ultimately the focus stays on the bride and groom and I doubt you’ll siphon that much of the spotlight away. Offer to be helpful and take direction, but stay generally out of the way and follow your gut instinct (for instance, don’t jump into the family picture, even if your boyfriend is insisting, unless the parents or the bride and groom also ask you to join). Mention that you are so pleased to be included and express your thanks, make nice conversation, and general be your charming and lovely self, and you will do fine.

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Alicia September 24, 2012 at 7:55 am

At this point there is nothing to change the add on status. Most likely very few folks will know that your boyfriend asked to add you as really that is simply between him and his brother. Just behave like any other gracious guest. Be charming , be yourself, be helpful to the family.

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Rick September 24, 2012 at 2:13 pm

How do you address a letter or Christmas card to a married gay couple?
They share a last name and have 2 children.
Do I send it to Mr. And Mr. Smith or do I play it safe and address it simply to the Smith family?
Also what do I do with a wedding invitation and seating cards?

Thanks

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Just Laura September 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Good afternoon, Rick,
How do you normally address Christmas cards to your friends/family? If you address them “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” for your heterosexual friends, then go ahead with “Mr. & Mr. Smith.” However, I like your option of “The Smith family” since there are two children involved.

As for a wedding invite, it is best to be specific no matter who you are inviting. Emily Post’s website provides some good points for addressing invitations. Remember, invitations should be addressed to both members of any married couple; i.e. John and Sam Smith. If the gentlemen have preferred to retain their pre-marriage names, then make sure their names are on the same line:
“Mr. John Smith and Mr. Sam Jones.”

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Alicia September 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Well at a Miss Manners book signing maybe a decade ago when I first had this issue of a gay couple. I was told that you address it a formal married gay couple is older one first. If you dio not know who is older address the one that you know better first. “And” between names on an invite means married so you would say and between their names as well as list it on the same line.
For kids it is seperate line per kid oldest to youngest with no consideration of gender. Boys under about 12/13 are called Master in formal invites. Thus if John and James are married and James is the younger of the adults and they have two kids Sara and Brian the invite would be :

Mr John Smith-Jones and Mr James Smith-Jones
Miss Sara Smith-Jones
Master Brian Smith-Jones
123 Main Street
Town , State
12345

p.s. another minute point people miss is to write out the state do not use the abreviation

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Chocobo September 24, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Rick,

“Mr. and Mr.” to my eye looks rather awkward. You could write out both of their names, such as:

Mr. Robert Smith and
Mr. Jonathan Smith
123 Lovely Lane
Pleasant Hill, Washington 00102

But then you have to separate them out and choose whom to put first on the card. Personally, I prefer the old form of address for two men of the same last name living in the same house:

The Mssrs. Smith (or The Messieurs Smith)
123 Lovely Lane
Pleasant Hill, Washington 00102

Previously this would have been used for two male relatives in the same home, but the concept — addressing two people of the same gender with the same last name — applies and is inclusive of both men together as a unit. Alternatively, your solution of “The Smith Family” is fine for Christmas, but if you are writing just to the two spouses — say for an invitation — any of the above solutions would work.

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Just Laura September 24, 2012 at 4:34 pm

I figure “Mr. and Mr.” is really no different than “Dr. and Dr.,” which is acceptable. Additionally, if they are married and space permits, they really should be on the same line.

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Peter Robertson September 24, 2012 at 11:01 pm

What do you think of the fact that I really do not like being addressed as ‘Sir’ or ‘Mister’. I am quite comfortable without a title, and would prefer none!

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Elizabeth September 25, 2012 at 8:27 am

It is a fool’s errand to try to thwart such a widely-held convention, especially one so innocuous as that. I agree with Alicia that you may certainly ask friends, coworkers, etc to address you in a certain way, but when the store clerk or the ticket vendor at the move theater addresses you as sir, you should not give it another thought.

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Alicia September 25, 2012 at 7:45 am

Absolutely reasonable. I hate being called Mam Miss or Lady. But they are polite terms. People you do not know just deal with it. People you expect to see again or deal with regularly simply say. “Please call me Peter.” and they should respect that and change the form of address.

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