1. Derrick

    I’m in a pickle. In my position, I am the advisor/contact for one set of clients, and a coworker, Jack, is the same for another set of clients. However, he also oversees other aspects of the program — such as the website — which I do not handle. Recently Jack sent out some correspondence asking for input on the parts of his job that I do not do (like the website) to my clients. Even though it is regarding his job, I am feeling a bit overstepped here, since I am supposed to be the main point of contact for them. I felt that I should have sent out the correspondence told the clients to give their feedback to Jack. Now a correspondence I was going to send out the same day looks like a follow-up request to my own clients.

    Am I correct? I’m feeling a little left out from my own clients. If so, how do I politely ask that requests be funneled through me in the future without burning bridges?

    • Elizabeth

      You can certainly ask (almost) anything in a polite way. I would recommend a conversation rather than communicating over email in this situation. You could stop by his office and say, “Hey Jack, I saw your email about the website to Clients X and Z. I was actually in the middle of drafting a very similar email to them when I received yours. I know that you service my clients in some respects, but just in order to reduce confusion, it’s best if I remain the point of contact for them. In the future, please send me the request and I will forward it along.”

      The larger question is: should you make this request? It depends on the hierarchy at your office, how things have traditionally been done at the office, how frequent these kinds of communications are, and what kind of relationship he has with your clients (do they know him, or if it out of the blue, etc). Do you have the kind of relationship with your boss in which you can ask him/her advice about this protocol? It would be hard for anyone here to know whether your request makes sense given the circumstances or whether you’ll be seen as being overly aggressive in protecting your “territory.”

  2. Vanna Keiler

    Hi Derrick. In my opinion, Jack should have asked you first, or run it by you, at the least. However, you need to develop better communication between yourself and Jack, and anyone else who’s position has the potential to cross-pollinate with yours, so that these situations don’t develop. Sometimes colleagues in lateral positions may encounter these situations, and sometimes some colleagues may take advantage of these opportunities.

    If it were me, I would make this an opportunity to talk to Jack and set up ground rules between the two of you. If you are both very busy and there is not much opportunity to talk, ask to meet with him for a brief 5 minute discussion, tell him what you would like, ask him what he would like, shake hands and get back to work. If there is issues from this, talk to your supervisor.

  3. Siobhan

    ~Date money dilemma~

    I have recently started dating a man whose income is orders of magnitude greater than mine. He often invites me to events/places I could never afford to pay for or even make a meaningful contribution to. He pays for those. I want to invite him in return, but in my current circumstances (I’m a student) I feel embarrassed about how small my possibilities are. I live in very squalid student accommodation with communal bathrooms and no living/dining room. The kitchen is… a shared student kitchen. I don’t feel comfortable cooking a meal for him or even just spending time together there. So far I have baked him cupcakes, given him a book we had talked about, sent him little home-made cards with messages, recorded a get-well video for him (the price of this was my dignity…), and brought him a button-hole when we were going out. I am feeling increasingly shame-faced about my homespun and amateurish gifts, when I have been to the opera, the theatre, on trips etc at his expense. Should I talk to him about this? Just accept it? Get a second job?

    This is entirely my problem, by the way. My date has never given the slightest indication of noticing the income disparity and is (I think) really happy with my gifts to him. He’s a keeper.

    A related quandary occurred recently when we were on a trip and my date had to leave the hotel we were staying in very early the next day, before I had eaten breakfast. The price of the breakfast was way beyond me so I went to Starbucks instead. Later when he got the hotel receipt, he asked why I hadn’t eaten and thought it was silly that I should have worried about paying for my own breakfast, even though he wasn’t there. I would feel very odd running up a bill on someone else’s credit card, especially in their absence. What should I have done?

    • Not only do you sound like a nice person who chooses not to use others, your date sounds like a wonderful man. I agree with Alicia, and want to add only that perhaps picking up the tab for pre-dinner or post-dinner drinks will make you feel better. Additionally, grabbing a nice bottle of wine and a block of good cheese can really add to a movie night at home, without breaking your bank account (I have yet to meet a man who does not enjoy these things, although I suppose they’re out there).

      Personally, I like cupcakes and don’t see anything amateurish about them.

    • Chocobo

      I understand your discomfort, but in my opinion you are doing fine. It sounds like your date appreciates the thought and effort you are putting in to this budding relationship, and that is what really counts. You are doing the right thing by taking your turn being a hostess, so remember that reciprocation does not mean financially equal. Otherwise people of different incomes could never be friends, never mind dates. Your thoughtful gifts and events that you can afford are more than enough, no second job needed. I hope he knows what a catch he has in someone so conscientious and considerate.

      For what it’s worth, I think homemade gifts and events that take personal effort are more charming anyway.

      • Wonderful comment. It takes more effort and time for a person to create something for me rather than clicking the mouse around on his/her computer. I’ve received some beautiful gifts over the years from true craftspeople (a small box made from carefully cut sand-dollars comes to mind), and still treasure them all.

  4. Alicia

    Your date sounds like a great fellow. When someone invites someone else to an event they host and hosting means paying. That means that if he invites you to an event that you should graciously be his guest be ok with him paying and smile and say thank you. In turn a gracious guest reciprocates hospitality. Now that hospitality does not need to be of the same fiscal level. You are at college so you probably are bombarded with tons of posters for free concerts, plays,lectures, and other fun and interesting things that have little to no cost. Invite him to one of those. Or plan a neat but low cost date( when something cool metrologically is happening shooting stars , lunar eclipse ect one great cheap date is hot chocolate in a thermos, a bunch of warm blankets and a star gazing book or app. Inviting him out for a hike and bring the trail mix and water bottles.

  5. Susie Cartledge

    What are the proper rules for the bride to be giving a small gift to the host that is giving her a bridal shower?

  6. Cindy

    I am in need of advice on attire for an early evening “of revelry”. This event will not extend past 10pm. Dress has been stated as “country club casual” but I am uncertain as to what to wear. The hostess is a decorator and normally very colorful, ecclectic, and trendy in her dress. There will be many people there from all walks of life. I would like to appear well dressed but not overly or underly so. One of my co-workers is going in a simple long black dress. How formal is “country club casual?” From what I have read online it is not that formal but another co-worker has said she was told by a dress shop that it is more formal than what we are reading. I would be more comfortable in trousers than a dress also. Can anyone clarify what “country club casual” is and offer a suggestion as to what would be appropriate to wear?

    Thank you.

  7. Friends,
    I have a problem (or perhaps the problem is me). My husband and I live in our house with a housemate. I really like this person, and the arrangement has worked well for over 2 years. A few months ago, this housemate started a relationship with a woman who lives in our town. She’s a nice, gainfully employed person; we like her and are happy for him. She comes over regularly – sometimes he takes her out to eat, sometimes he cooks a nice meal for all of us, and sometimes I cook or my husband cooks and she’s welcome to join us. To date, she has never taken him out to eat, nor has she cooked him a meal either in our kitchen or in hers. She has not offered clean up after a meal, nor has she contributed a bottle of wine or a side dish.
    Since this has been going on for a couple of months, I now have a problem with this (or am I overreacting?) The other night as I was washing our dishes, I asked if there were any special dishes she enjoyed making, and that I looked forward to trying them. She said, “oh… I guess I should cook a meal sometime…” There has been no interaction since then. Was I too forward in my expectation?
    How can I fix this if I did foul up? I don’t want to mess this up for my housemate.

    • Jerry

      Laura: As an initial matter, I don’t see how your comment could have fouled things up or been seen as too forward. But then again, I wasn’t there, and didn’t observe body language or tone of voice. You (or even better, your husband) might consider asking your housemate how things are going with his new lady. If your comment caused issues, I’m sure he’ll let you know.

      And since you asked, I do think you’re overreacting — it’s not your place to comment on your housemate’s relationship as you are not really a party to it. So what if your housemate’s girlfriend never takes him out to eat? Different couples structure their relationships differently. Now if you feel your housemate’s girlfriend is taking advantage of you, then you might speak up.

      • As soon as I posted that, I realized, “hey, if he wants to be used, that’s his business.” However, dinners consumed at our house are using our cookware, our dishes, and I’m the one cleaning up every single time. There have been many evenings when I cook, my housemate cooks, or my husband cooks and she eats. I’m not sure why she can’t cook, or bring a bottle of wine, or offer to clean up. That’s why I feel we (the whole house) are being used. As for the dinners at restaurants, I understand that’s not my concern.

        • Jerry

          That’s not a fun situation you’re in. I agree with Elizabeth, though. This is an issue you should bring up with your housemate as she’s his guest.

    • Elizabeth

      While I do understand your discomfort with her lack of generosity to your housemate/her boyfriend, the only thing you can really address are the aspects of the interactions that affect you. And, really, you can only address them with your housemate – she is his guest, after all. If it seems like your housemate and you/your husband cook at equal rates, then perhaps all you need is an agreement about who cleans up. Such as, if you/your husband cook, then housemate + girlfriend clean up, and visa versa. If you know that you’ll be cooking for the four of you, you can ask your housemate to contribute something to the meal, or you can ask him to ask her to pick up something on the way over. You should definitely not be cleaning up all the time! I think you have to treat them like a unit (a unit in which one person is always providing and doing the work).

      The other thing you could do is to have a private conversation with your roommate as a friend, and ask him how he thinks the relationship is going. You could even open with the fact that you said something the other night (about her favorite dishes), and say that you are afraid that you offended her. How he reacts will be very instructive, not only about if she actually was offended, but also about how he feels about the whole thing.

  8. New Bride

    I am a new bride who sadly had a family member pass away the day I got back from my honeymoon. In the subsequent days after that, I talked with or saw the majority of my family members and wedding guests around the funeral. My problem is that I haven’t finished all of my thank you notes for the wedding. Should I mention the funeral in the thank you notes? Some how all the wedding talk sounds glib while we are all in mourning. My Aunt wisely advised that I try and keep the happy and sad events separate. I just don’t know how to sound sincere in the notes without acknowledging the loss. Help. What should I do?

    • Chocobo

      I’m terribly sorry for your loss. I think your aunt is right. It is so unfortunate that these happy and sad events happened so close together, but perhaps your friends and family would like to be reminded of happy things at this time.

      How close is this relative to you? Is the relative someone who is more distant, like a cousin or an aunt, I think it would be best for you to send a letter of thanks and a letter of condolence to those affected separately. That way the two sentiments are expressed, but not at the same time.

      If the relative was very close to you, such as your siblings, parents, or grandparents, you might add in a small sentence at the end that acknowledges the loss without making the letter entirely about it. You could write in the letters to the people who knew them something like:

      “Dear Aunt Sally,
      I was so pleased to spend my wedding day with you, and my husband and I know that we will get much use out of the gorgeous silver platter you sent. Thank you so much for all your support, we know how lucky we are to have you as family.
      Of course we are saddened and shocked by the recent passing of Grandmother, but are so appreciative that we could spend our wedding day all together as a family. I’m so glad you could be a part of that with us.
      With all our love,
      ‘New Bride'”

      However, I’m not sure I would mention the loss to people who did not know the deceased, and simply write a standard thank you letter.

  9. friend

    My friend is planning a wedding early next year. Her mother is in the last stages of cancer so she is going to have a small ceremony in a week, so that her mom could be with her when she gets married. We would like to have a bachlorette party before her “renewal” ceremony. My question is what would I put on the invitations as it’s really not a “bachlorette” party?

    • Elizabeth

      There is really not an official name for this … why not just invite your friends out for a night of ladies-only clubbing (or whatever you have planned) rather than calling it something? Or, I suppose you could be cute about and call it a faux-bachelorette party, or a “bachelorette for a night” party or something. I think what you call it doesn’t matter, people love to go out and will take any opportunity to have a night of revelry. I would recommend skipping the games, “novelty necklaces” and such, though.

      • “novelty necklaces” LOL
        I love the title, “bachelorette for a night.” Also, “Ladies’ Night” is an ever-popular title. I like your idea, and you sound like a good friend. Please do forgo the games and, uh, novelties, and just let your friend have a fun night where she forgets her recent sadness.

  10. Gina Pirra

    When is a benefit not appropriate?

    I am part of a community of people who all dance the same dance. Some people host regular dance events and take on the financial risks or benefits. Profits are usually very small, but the dances often also serve to promote the hosts business teaching dance, and sometimes they give a lesson before the dance that costs an extra amount.

    Occasionally someone will hold a benefit event for a person or charity. I once hosted a benefit to refinish the floor belonging to the small gallery where we danced, because over the years we had worn off the finish yet the landlord had always rented the space to us at the same low price so we could keep the admit ion price low. In my mind, the benefit went to the owner of the space (new floor finish) and the whole community (affordable weekly dance event).

    Recently a local dance teacher has opened a new art gallery space and wants to have a dance there. It has a cement floor and she is planning a “benefit” to ask community members to pitch in to put in a wooden floor. She will teach her dance classes there and have a regular dance which, by her report, will at the higher end of the local range.

    She is also scheduling her monthly dance on the same night as a regular monthly dance that has been held the same night for more than 10 years. There are not many free nights left, and she said herself she picked this one because it is not very popular. But the person who runs it is one of the original people who started this kind of dancing in this area.

    I am upset about this because this teacher is getting the community to pay for her new floor, which she will benefit from, to hold an event that will undermine the activities of another organizer (who is not a teacher). Meanwhile there is all this “thank you for the generosity of the community” flying around facebook as the organizer of the older dance watches. She feels betrayed by a lot of people.

    Here’s my question: Isn’t it kind of tacky to throw a benefit for yourself and then publicly flaunt your success at the expense of someone else? My dance community seems pretty oblivious to this and is just all excited to have a cool new place to dance. Clearly I’m the scrooge :-).

  11. Brockwest

    1) Co-worker sending e-mail to your clients: It is important to discuss this in person with your co-worker, then follow-up your discussion with a polite e-mail that your understanding of the discussion was that you were to be the one to directly contact your clients. I smell possible trouble brewing..this could be “poaching” meaning either your co-worker is trying to poach your clients or your boss is having your co-worker contact your clients because your boss may not be happy with you.
    2) Dating financial differences: You did fine. It is very common for there to be a difference in incomes in dating partners…whether from age/experience/divorce situations whatever. I would be delighted with cupcakes or something homemade. One of the nicest presents I ever got was a “superpillow” (old-time handmade pillow you used for sitting at concerts.) As long as you don’t request trips, items or add friends/families to the outings, it is fine. I’m very generous, but when people appear with uninvited guests, it does bother me.
    3) Housemate has added a significant other: This is a very common situation, from college through roommate years. It is very important to address with the roommate. At first you may feel uncomfortable, but eventually it will bother you and interfere with your relationship, so establish ground rules. It sounds as if you are quite generous and it’s not the expense but the extra work involved that is bothering you.
    You might consider asking the roommate (not the significant other) to do the dishes on the days she eats with you and contribute a dish on those days. Personally, I think it would be fine to ask the roommate to contribute more to the dinner fund if he is bringing a regular, but this is up to you. I doubt the significant other has ever considered doing the dishes or bring food.
    4) sad/glad news: It seems reasonable to separate the two news items. One note of thank you for the gift. A different communication about the sadness. In the circle of life there are the comings and the goings, and both can be addressed by themselves.
    5) Ill Mother. I think it is wonderful that your mother will be there. In this case, I think it is important to personally call each person who is coming and explain it is a modified night, without rudeness or crudeness to be involved.
    6) Two dance groups: Groups of all sorts have been having benefits/bake sales/candy sales for years. Nobody has a patent on the idea. The second lady has the same right to hold a benefit for whatever reason. I do understand that some feel their toes or being stepped on, but anybody is allowed to hold a benefit. It Does sound as if perhaps she is encroaching on your territory and people which is a different topic.

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