31 Comments

  1. Lori

    We recently sent two concert tickets to friends as a gift. Unfortunately, they were unable to attend due to health reasons. They graciously mailed the tickets to us, and we found friends who could attend in their places at the last minute.
    When they returned the tickets to us, we discovered – to our great horror – that a receipt had been enclosed from the organization providing the concert. We made it clear in our phone order that this was a gift, but did not think we would have to specify that the receipt should not be mailed with the tickets. Subsequently, our friends also mailed us a check to reimburse us for the price of the tickets.
    We are so embarrassed! How should we handle this?
    Thank you for your advice.

    • Country Girl

      I think you do owe them a call to express just what you have here; the tickets were a gift and you are truly embarrassed that the company included a receipt with the order as you’d explained so to them on the phone. I would also let your friends know that you will be effectively tearing up their check, even if they insist otherwise. (It is not nearly customary to pay someone back for a gift you are unable to use, most especially since they were kind enough to also returned the tickets to you to use or redistribute.) If you would like to do something more for these friend, such as take them out to dinner, I think that is a lovely idea.

  2. Vanna Keiler

    Hi Lori. Your mistake sounds understandable. If I were you, I might just call up the friends and tell them the tickets were a gift and they should not have mailed a check. Perhaps offer to return the check to them, or if they refuse, use the money to take the couple out to dinner sometime.

  3. Joanna

    This is an odd one, to be sure…

    I live in a condo complex, and while most of us are not really “friends,” it’s typical to give a friendly wave and a hello to the neighbors you see every day.

    One young woman, however, is the exception to this.

    Because we leave for work around the same time, I often run into her in the mornings. Other times, I’m standing outside with my dog when she emerges. As with everyone else, I give a smile and a cheery good morning. She flat-out ignores me.

    The first couple times, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. It’s quite early in the morning; perhaps she’s still half-asleep. Perhaps, as we were still a few yards apart, she didn’t hear me. I even gave a moment’s thought to the possibility of her being hearing-impaired, as a friend suggested when I mentioned this to her. But no, it doesn’t seem that any of the above applies.

    This young woman is simply flat-out rude. You can wave to her, smile, give a nice friendly “Good morning!” or “How are you?” and she will stalk past you in utter silence, scowling like I’ve just set her condo on fire and kicked her kids too. (She’s like this to everyone, so no, I highly doubt that I ever insulted her in some inadvertent way.)

    A neighbor I discussed this with said he’d heard that she “has issues.” Frankly, I don’t know a single human being who doesn’t; we all have our own problems, but that doesn’t give us a license to be rude or nasty. I personally have a serious chronic illness which leaves me often in a great deal of pain, especially first thing in the morning. Yet whenever someone greets me, I smile and tell them I’m well, thank you for asking. This is the mere courtesy of human exchanges.

    At this point, whenever I see her emerge from the building, I no longer acknowledge her. I figure I’m not about to be disrespected on a regular basis, you know? But, crazy as it sounds, the problem here is that in doing so, I feel that *I* am being rude. I am a naturally friendly person, who was brought up to be mannerly besides, so the idea of behaving as she has forced me to truly makes me feel shameful and unnatural.

    Any thoughts on this bizarre situation? I have been told by a few friends that this woman is a waste of my time and not worth a moment’s more of consideration. But I also feel a small yet distinct idea that I should feel sorry for her, that she is a deeply unhappy young woman for some unknown reason, and that by continuing to treat her kindly despite the lack of reciprocation, I may in fact be making some small difference in her life, if not immediately then one day in the near future.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      She has signalled, in a not subtle way, that she is not interested in being greeted. Therefore, it is not at all rude for you to stop greeting her.

      • Vanna Keiler

        I concur with Winifred: the appropriate thing to do now is to respect her wishes to not engage in any discussion with you. As you pointed out, we all have issues in life to deal with, and you do not know hers (or know her). You have tried to be neighborly; now it is time to move on and enjoy the hellos and greetings with others who are like-minded.

    • Nina

      Hi Joanna,

      Winifred and Vanna’s advice is certainly correct–there’s nothing required of you here. However, if *you* are uncomfortable not greeting her, she couldn’t possibly be offended by a nod and a smile, as long as you don’t expect anything in return. I have folks like this in my large office–I’ve been walking past them in the hallway for 5 years and they’ve never returned my greetings. Still, I smile and nod most of the time–why not? It’s my instinct, and I’ll probably have to work with them someday–why not be friendly if it doesn’t cost me anything?

    • Country Girl

      Joanna your last paragraph describing your thoughts on the matter are incredibly insightful and seem to give you your own answer. It is hard for some to imagine being so deeply troubled/unhappy to a point that it is difficult to muster so much as a smile or a reciprocation to a simple greeting. I won’t presume to guess what may be causing this woman to “shut off”, but when I was a younger girl, I had some experiences that caused me to suffer bouts of depression. I can admit this now that, at the time, seeing others enjoying life was really painful. Mustering up a fake smile and a fake greeting was, at the time, both physically and emotionally painful.

      To me, your last thought says it all. While it is entirely possible that she is a rude, selfish person, it is also possible that she is in pain and your small acts of kindness are a bigger help than you know. Often the rudest people are the ones in the most pain, the ones who need some human grace the most. If you are able, the best thing you can do for this girl is to give her a small sincere smile and an understanding nod and expect nothing in return… just assuming that she is fighting some kind of battle you aren’t meant to understand.

  4. Claire

    I have a new question. My fiancé and I are in medical school and will be married about a month after graduation. Emily Post clearly states that my fiancé should be listed on the invitation as “Doctor” as he will be a doctor at the wedding itself even though the invitation will be sent before he receives the degree. However, it is not clear regarding how to address invitations to our friends who will receive the invitation before they receive their degree, but who will be physicians at the time of the event. Any ideas how we should address these invitations?

    Thank you!
    Claire

    • Why not honor their accomplishments by calling them “Doctor”? They’ve done 99% of the work, and will be a doctor by the time of the event. I’d rather play it safe in this case.

      Congratulations on such a great accomplishment in your life, and best wishes for your upcoming nuptials.

    • Jody

      I agree with Just Laura, address the invitations to your friends as “Doctor.” They’ve done the work and deserve the title.

      Your question reminds me of the time I was a patient at a local dental school. The student dentists hadn’t yet graduated but were still addressed as “doctor” on the floor (by both patients and instructors). One student dentist told me it was so they could get used to the title.

  5. Erin

    I have been married for 5 years and including years we dated, have known his family for 10 years. We both grew up in the same area, but after we married, my husband’s job has moved us all over the US. We currently reside on the West coast and our families are on the East coast. We also have a one year old who is currently the first and only grandchild on both sides of the family, so our visits from family members have significantly increased in the last year.

    I was raised in a family that put a lot of emphasis on good manners and I consider myself to be very respectful and mindful of others. My father-in-law does not seem to have been raised in the same way. He is always well intentioned and good hearted, however having him as a guest in my home often drives me crazy.

    Below are some examples:
    *Goes through all of my kitchen cabinets looking for things, instead of just asking.
    *Cleans floors, windows, does yard work, rearranges my pantry and garage. Even though I may have already done them or don’t want them done.
    *Gets up from the dinner table to clear his dish and begins cleaning the kitchen before everyone else is done, then proceeds to sit and watch TV when he is done and everyone is still enjoying their dinner.
    *Chews with his mouth open and licks his fingers while eating.
    *Cleans out my personal things and asks if certain items should remain there.
    *Insists upon buying all the groceries.
    *Asks about our personal finances or discusses other family members.

    These are just a few examples and I often have to remind myself that these visits are temporary and we live far away and that he is in fact doing some of these things out of love and because he thinks he is being helpful. However, I often feel inadequate as an adult and mother when he does these things and sometimes I feel like the guest in my own home by the way he carries himself and through his actions. I also find myself making snide comments or calling him out on some of his bad table manners because all of these little things build up in me until I want to explode. I am realizing that my comments are also in poor form and equally as rude and inappropriate and that is not how I want to conduct myself or portray myself. I have brought it up to my husband but he replies, “it doesn’t bother me, I’m used to it, that’s just my Dad.”

    How can I deal with his behavior in my own home without embarrassing myself by not keeping in mind good etiquette or harboring resentment by staying silent?

    • You have a small (and probably active) child, are far away from your home and family/friends, and you are unhappy that your father-in-law pays for your food?

      Okay, I understand that someone intruding on your space by being a bit too inquisitive as to others’ finances can be a test of patience, and ignoring dinner conversation in favor of the TV makes others uncomfortable, but these can be easy to either ignore, or put off with something as simple as, “how kind of you to take an interest” before ignoring.

      My father-in-law was a head of department and Professor Emeritus at our state university, yet would still have, uh, interesting dinner time habits (licking fingers doesn’t begin to cover it). But he died unexpectedly a couple of years ago, and I wish he were back making crude jokes and burping with aplomb. My point isn’t to make you feel bad, but to tell you to take a deep breath and brush off his inappropriate questions and ignore his actions that are well-meaning. I’m sure he has other redeeming qualities.

      As for rearranging your items, I would stop him in the act with a pity-play. “Dad, I sincerely appreciate what you’re trying to do. However, Baby is keeping me very busy, and when my things are rearranged, I can’t find them and that really adds to my stress level. Would you please leave well-enough alone?” He may come back with, “I’m just trying to be helpful.”
      You say, “I know, Dad, but I have everything where I can find it quickly. Thanks so much, but please respect my placement.” If that doesn’t work, enlist your husband to help. He may not mind his father, but you do, and he should care about your feelings concerning the placement of YOUR stuff.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      I agree with Laura. I would like to add that it might also be helpful when he’s trying to help but in an unhelpful way, you can give him something else to do that isn’t irritating. Checking on/playing with your child is a good go-to chore for him.

  6. Brockwest

    I agree with the above advice
    1) It’s your father-in-law, so IGNORE anything but Severe problems. It’s vital to the health of your family for you two to get along and a nightmare if you don’t. His food habits are none of your business. His eating habits are none of your business. His TV habits are none of your business. I understand, fully, the frustration of having him re-clean or re-wash, but the overall scheme of things, these are little things to be ignored (Unless you are a superb housekeeper and he is a poor housekeeper and is screwing up your work….such as your windows are spotless and his make them streaked.
    2) On the other hand, his re-arranging, disposing of your Personal space is a major issue. It’s best handled by quietly stating that it a kitchen is the private space of the wife and you don’t let anyone change it, it is the way you want it.
    Secondly, then re-inforce this by having your husband, without you there, be forceful on this point. He can say “Dad, you know that a kitchen belongs to the wife. How would you like her to come re-arrange your garage?”

    So, suffer quietly all but the most important problems. It’s worth it.

    When it comes to the care and raising of your child, this becomes a major issue and your responsibility. Here you can’t let them do unsafe or unsanitary things. Period.
    Here you have to be the mother bear with her cub. Make sure you put your foot down only on the important things, not non-harmful stuff like making faces, or giggling and the like.

  7. Carly

    Hello All,

    I’m sitting down to write thank you notes for holiday gifts. Growing up my mother insisted that I write thank you notes to everyone, whether or not they were present when the gift was opened. My husband’s family operates differently and they almost never write thank you notes. They may say a passing thank you after opening a gift but it’s almost never enthusiastic and doesn’t (in my mind) impart the same sense of appreciation that a handwritten note does.

    Given that the TYN guide says that a thank you in person is sufficient, is it excessive for me to write a thank you note to my parents and/or in-laws even if they were sitting right there when I opened the gift and I thanked them warmly on the spot? It’s uncomfortable to consider not writing one and I sometimes feel miffed that we only get a bland verbal response to a gift, but moms don’t necessarily get it right all the time so I thought I’d ask the experts.

    Thanks!

    • If you have verbally thanked the person, you don’t have to send the note. However, a note is a nice additional touch. I will send one to my mother-in-law (who saw me open gifts from her) and one to my grandmother, as it makes me feel good and they enjoy receiving mail. My brother will get a “thank you” text, and my husband will not receive a note. You know your family best.

    • Alicia

      Technically you must only write the thank you note if the gift was not opened in front of someone and the thank you said then. However, it is never wrong to send a thank you note and as you have realized it makes people feel happy and appreciated. So go send the thank you notes.

  8. Amy

    Hello Mannerly Post-ettes,

    I’m in a bit of a quandary. My mother raised me to write a thank you note in virtually any incidence where one might be even considered a remote possibility. As a result, I’ve grown into an adult who shuns thank you notes unless one is required. I would like to note that I am very courteous and polite and make sure to acknowledge gifts in a timely manner.

    My problem is that my mother’s friends give me “gifts” and my mother would very much like (expects) me to send thank you notes. These gifts always come through my mother. Certainly if these gifts were sent to me directly I would write a note. If these gifts were wrapped and presented as a gift I would write a note. But, for example, I just received a small knitted (NOT by the giver) item, and some jewelry in an old plastic bag. Are these hand me downs? Something purchased at a garage sale? The giver (whom I am not close to) thought it might be nice, but I strongly feel this passing on of unwrapped items in the name of gift-giving does not deserve a thank you note. Please share with me your thoughts.

    Thank you!

  9. Brockwest

    Re: passed-down gifts: The rule is, it’s not the cost of the gift, but the gift.
    If the giver handed them to you personally and they seemed like hand-me-downs that they couldn’t use anymore, I think the in-person thank you would suffice.
    Because they were given to your mother, then to you, the person needs a thank you note.

    A good solution? It sounds like you’re getting unwanted junk. Tell your mother you don’t want anymore. If your mother wants something, fine, but don’t take stuff from other people to give to you. You have a double win: no junk, no note.
    Now of course your mother will find this awkward…what do I do when they give me stuff for you? The answer is for her to tell them that you current space is limited and you don’t have room.

    • Amy

      Dear Brockwest,

      Thank you for your response. I will write a thank you note.

      Unfortunately, because this isn’t junk but a “gift”, she won’t say no to her friend. I will certainly express my thoughts to her in the hopes that this silly cycle will stop. If it doesn’t am I still required to accept the gift (and then send a note), considering I’ve asked her to stop?

      Thanks again!

  10. Clara

    Hello friends. Last night I went out to dinner for my friend’s birthday. Due to the holidays and a lot of traveling, I never got a chance to inquire of my friend who all would be attending her dinner. When I arrived (at a chain restaurant to which I have never been) I saw 2 of our mutual friends (whom I knew would be there) and 2 of her friends that I did not know. They were all sitting in a large booth (not a round booth). I said hello to everyone and introduced myself to the 2 people I did not know. I thought the booth was a bit tight and awkward but at least I was on the end and could get out easily if need be. About 10 minutes later another couple arrived. I thought to myself “this cannot be serious” and slid in, squished between 2 guys I did not know. The guys had not met either, but through talking realized they knew a whole bunch of the same people. So they proceeded, the entire evening, to talk to each other, with my head between them. Then they turned to politics, with the complete opposite opinion of my own. Also, when trying to eat, it was impossibly awkward b/c every time I wanted to lean down to take a bite of my sandwich, I was causing them to move their heads b/c I was in the way, plus it is rather uncomfortable to eat when there are two faces just an inch from either side of you. I did not want to ask them to switch b/c I did not want them to think I was annoyed, plus it would have involved the guy to my left sliding out, myself sliding out, and the guy to my right sliding out, then myself sliding back in and so forth and so on. So in my own mind it seemed like a big production to ask of these people. If it had been my own dinner I probably would have, right from the beginning, asked that the restaurant seat us at a large table, but in a case where you have no control over the table chosen, etc…what are you supposed to do in extremely uncomfortable circumstances such as this?

    • “Excuse me, Waitress? When a larger table opens up, would you please re-seat us? I’m hitting this poor guy in the head every time I reach for my water.”
      I’m sure your dinner companions would have thanked you.

      • Clara

        But could that have been seen as “taking over” when perhaps the birthday girl was fine with the table that was given to her?

        • Not if done nicely. I can’t imagine any birthday girl being okay with her guests feeling squished and extremely uncomfortable. But bring it up to the birthday girl first, if that would make the guest feel better. Something along the lines of, “hey, I’m not trying to take over, but I’m super cramped here – do you think we could get a bigger table?”

        • Winifred Rosenburg

          I agree with Laura. It’s possible the birthday girl noticed the problem but was either too shy to bring it up to the restaurant staff or was worried the other people would find it inconvenient to move. She might have been relieved by your being pro-active.

  11. Brockwest

    Hi Amy, noce to meet you too.
    Unsoliticed gifts, even if not junk, if they are causing you more pain than they are worth, or not worth your time. Sahy it’s a nice set of costume jewelry, It’s not junk, but you don’t want it, or at least the effort it creates in setting up thank you letters for unsolicited gifts.

    Again, tell your mother to tell her friends that your space it tight, you are trying to downsize and can’t accept anything else from anybody. Insist on this to your mother. The first time you return your something to your mother with the words “I sorry, as I said, I just don’t have the space, thank them, but ask them to give it to someone who has the room for it.” This should soon stop the cycle.

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