Open Thread

by epi on October 12, 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.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne October 12, 2012 at 9:39 am

I recently asked a bussiness if they made a certain flavor, pumpkin, in a product. And I got this response “No..Thanks!” How is that an appropriate response from a bussiness? I was expecting a no we do not at this time, but we will keep it in mind. A response that was nice to blow me off and not such rudeness. I’d like to out this company, but I have more class than they do.

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Just Laura October 12, 2012 at 10:10 am

I know tone doesn’t convey well online, but it sounds as if they answered your question, and thanked you, which doesn’t come off as rude. Did the salesperson roll her eyes at you?
Perhaps they are not considering that flavor, and preferred not to lead you on. Or, the business already gets a hundred flavor suggestions each day and has found a brief response to be easiest for them.

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Elizabeth October 12, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I agree with Laura, it’s hard to gauge the tone from a typed description. It’s possible that the salesperson was caught off guard a bit, and perhaps intended to say “thanks for your inquiry” but answered awkwardly instead. If this was over email, I agree – it is a very bizarre response!

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Chocobo October 12, 2012 at 1:43 pm

A business is not required to reply that they will keep a customer’s suggestion in mind, particularly if they have no intentions of doing so. A simple “No, I’m afraid we do not” is a perfectly acceptable and polite answer. It is hard to judge via text what the salesperson’s tone was, but as you have written it, I don’t find the response offensive. Perhaps awkward, but not rude.

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Joanna October 12, 2012 at 2:01 pm

How does one respond to a person who “compliments” you on weight loss that is not intentional?

I realize we live in a society where weight loss, regardless of person or situation, is seen as admirable. However, I am a young woman with a serious chronic illness. I have lost a great deal of weight unwillingly — what’s more, most of this is actual muscle mass, as my illness has caused muscle atrophy. But I still get numerous “Ooh, you’re so skinny!” comments — including one memorable time by a lab tech in the hospital! I didn’t make a big thing of it, because I understood she didn’t mean anything bad. But honestly, if a woman working in a HOSPITAL doesn’t realize that a person coming in for treatment might not be skinny by choice, who will??

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Just Laura October 12, 2012 at 2:06 pm

One of my friends used to respond to these sorts of comments by saying, “Thanks! Cancer does wonders for my metabolism.”

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Chocobo October 12, 2012 at 7:12 pm

The old standby “Thanks for taking an interest” always works to let people know it’s not necessarily a compliment, especially if combined with a somewhat somber or sheepish tone and a change of subject. I hope you feel better soon.

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Silvia October 12, 2012 at 4:43 pm

How does one handle a last-minute invitation that one unintentionally has elicited from a friend? here’s the scenario: It’s a friend’s birthday today, and I sent her birthday wishes by email. As a way of making conversation, I casually asked if she had any big plans. In her reply, she mentioned she was going out to celebrate tonight and told me I was welcome to come along. My instinct was to refuse the invitation, not because I didn’t want to go, but because I belatedly realized that my original email may have seemed like I was trying to invite myself along, and I felt I might be committing something of a faux-pas in accepting. What’s the etiquette for something like this?

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Country Girl October 12, 2012 at 7:58 pm

It doesn’t sound like you elicited an invitation, unintentionally or otherwise, by simply asking her plans. She could’ve very well left it at “Some friends offered to take me out.” It sounds like she’d probably enjoy having you along. However you said you don’t want to go, so it would be polite to just respond “Oh thank you so much for the invitation. I wish I could, but unfortunately I have plans for this evening. I hope you have a wonderful time!” You might even like to add “But I’d love to take you out for lunch next week to celebrate if you have an available day.”

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Anne October 12, 2012 at 11:40 pm

It seems to be common practice to have birthday parties for kids (age 3 – and up) and NOT open gifts during the party. I am personally fine doing either – both as a guest and the host. I’ve always followed with thank you notes either way (opening my childs gifts at the party or later at home). My question: is it a major faux-pas to accept gifts and not open them at the party so the guests can see?

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Zakafury October 15, 2012 at 10:06 am

No, it’s not a major faux pas. If it’s a family-only event, certainly open the gifts. In a bigger group, you stretch the attention span of the young guests. Since little kids aren’t very good at hiding their opinions of the dud gifts, it can also get uncomfortable for a young gift-giver whose present isn’t as well received.

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Stephanie October 15, 2012 at 10:46 am

My brother is getting married. We are unsure if it is appropriate for our dad to wear a tux or a nice suit. The father of the bride is wearing a tux as he is walking her down the aisle. What should I advise my dad to wear?

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Winifred Rosenburg October 15, 2012 at 2:04 pm

If the groom is wearing a tux, he should also wear a tux.

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Elizabeth-Anne October 15, 2012 at 3:18 pm

How should I address an invitation to a (female) judge and a (male) mayor who are married?
(Can you you say power couple?!)

Thank you!

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Elizabeth October 15, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Elizabeth-Anne,

I have been hunting around for an answer, and …. it’s complicated. The best advice I have found is to contact someone in the mayor’s office and ask them. A mayor of a large city may have a “protocol officer,” or in a smaller city you might just ask his secretary/admin assistant. They will have viewed tons of mail that comes in to the office, and will have the best advice for you.

Good luck.

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Mary October 16, 2012 at 2:44 pm

“Golden Rules for Houseguests” – in your recent article you mentioned making the bed but what about when you leave? I’ll be a guest at my cousin’s home for one night during a road trip; do I make the bed or remove the sheets and take them to the laundry area?

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Jerry October 16, 2012 at 3:54 pm

You ask your cousin which one he would prefer.

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Winifred Rosenburg October 16, 2012 at 5:09 pm

It’s safe to assume the host will want to wash the sheets before someone else sleeps in them. You should remove the sheets from the bed and either leave them in an obvious place in the laundry area such as on top of the washing machine or leave them folded on top of the bed.

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Elizabeth October 16, 2012 at 8:17 pm

If only that were true… I greatly suspect my in-laws do not wash the sheets after every visitor, or perhaps we are the only ones who ever stay the night? When we leave, we just make the bed, and if they want to strip it, they can.

In my case, we just know that they prefer us to make the bed. But if you really don’t know, then Jerry’s advice might be best.

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Kaylee October 17, 2012 at 1:24 am

Is it OK for guests who bring kids to visit allow them to run around the host’s home like wild animals? Here’s the thing. The other night, some guests came to visit. I have cats who are very timid and get very traumatized when strangers come to the house so I will usually hide them in a room. Unfortunately, my guest’s grandson (who went on to explore every room and open every closed door the minute he stepped through the front door) found them and tried to catch them even after I told him to leave the cats alone. Of course this is not OK for me and I ended up screaming at him. Hey, if they are not gonna teach him some manners, I will. My guest, in the meantime, can only sit there and laugh. After they left, I got an earful from my parents about how ungracious I had been and how I should always defer to the guests no matter their behavior. Seriously?!?! What about them respecting our home and ensuring that their kids are well behaved when visiting other people’s homes? I don’t know about the rest of the world, but being Asian, when I was a kid, we will quietly while the adults talk and only speak when spoken to.

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Alicia October 17, 2012 at 7:47 am

Of course you are right that kids should behave with manners. Of course parents should enforce this code of behaviour. However you were also wrong to be screaming at guests and modeling bad behavior yourself. One does not correct someones manners unless they ask or are ones children or charges. So yes they were wrong and you were wrong. So you are probably asking yourself what should you have done? You should have calmly closed the cat in the room again and taken the kid and led the kid back into the main room and distracted them with something TV , game, book, something.

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Ruth Peltier October 18, 2012 at 10:03 am

Sorry Alicia but I am with Kaylee on this one… No matter who the kids were she had every right to rescue her cats and if it took a loud voice: so be it. If the kids were chasing the cats, getting the cats back into their room probably was impossible, without stopping the kids from chasing them.

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Winifred Rosenburg October 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm

It seems to me that Alicia’s solution would have been just as effective as Kaylee’s and I suspect more so. (Studies have shown that screaming is not nearly as effective as most people think.) Screaming in general should be avoided whenever possible and it is unnecessary in this case. I agree with Alicia that there were ways to handle this that still protect her cat and her privacy that don’t involve screaming. I also think her goal should not be to teach anyone manners because in addition to being rude it would never work. She should think about how to protect the cat and her privacy and not worry about teaching anyone any lessons.

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Jerry October 18, 2012 at 11:38 am

Kaylee: I’ll come to your defense and say you were 100% in the right. Based on the facts as you have described them, your weren’t so much correcting your guest’s manners (although you are correct that they were behaving badly) as much as you were protecting your property. (In fact, some pet owners would say you were protecting a member of your family.)

If it were me, I would have told the adults responsible for the child that they need to supervise him, and that he was not welcome to enter closed rooms. (Actually, I probably would have physically moved the kid out of the off-limits rooms.) If that cut the visit short, so be it. And if my parents tried to lecture me after the fact (something they learned not to do a long time ago), I would have reminded them that I get to set the rules in my own home.

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Jerry October 18, 2012 at 11:43 am

BTW, Just Laura, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this as I think you and I have similar views on kids, but slightly different views on how adults should treat their guests. (I promise not to lambst you if you post an opinion contrary to my own .)

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Just Laura October 18, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Promise?
Actually, I don’t know that we differ on this particular issue.
Kaylee:
I do not like children to run around my house (actually, I don’t enjoy children being there at all). It is not child-friendly, and I have some items that would be prohibitive to replace. Knowing your cats as you do, you hid them away both for their safety/sanity, and for the safety of the child (a cornered cat has five sides, and all are sharp).
No guest, no matter how old, should be opening a closed door in someone’s home, unless directed to do so, or there is an emergency. What if a newly-opened closet was full of things that came crashing down on the poor kid?
My only point of confusion is where your parents fit into this. Is this their home (i.e., you live with them), or were they visiting, or did they hear about this later?

If this is your parents’ home, then please abide by their requests. Put the cats in a carrier or lock the door where they are hiding to keep prying hands away. If these guests visit again, direct behavioral problems to the caretaker since the kid obviously doesn’t listen to you. Use phrases such as, “please respect our home,” and “for the safety of the child” rather than “your kid needs to leave my stuff alone.”
If this is your home, then guests need to play by your entirely reasonable rules. I can’t believe the caretaker of the child laughed at you. This teaches the child that if he breaks rules, he’ll be rewarded by a smiling figure in authority.

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Jody October 18, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Kaylee — I’m with Jerry and others here. Assuming this was *your* house, you are entitled to set the rules of conduct. If the guest’s grandson would not do what you asked him to do, you were correct to reprimand him. It was wrong of your guest to just sit and laugh at the situation.

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