Open Thread

by Daniel Post Senning on May 20, 2013

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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 }

Cyra May 20, 2013 at 12:09 pm

A friend of mine is getting married this fall and she and her fiance have decided to have one person stand with each of them–in her case, her sister. There are three of us though, who are good friends with her and she asked us this weekend, “Even though you won’t be standing up with me, I would really love to have your support throughout the day. Would you three be willing to do the things bridesmaids normally do? I don’t trust my sister to take care of it.” I haven’t actually given her an answer yet, and I’m not sure how to answer that. I don’t at all mind that I’m not in her wedding, but it seems incredibly disrespectful to be told that I mean enough to her for her to want me there to help her get ready and make sure that she has everything she needs all day, but I don’t mean enough to her to deal with it “looking weird” to have more people standing on her side than the groom’s. Any thoughts or advice on a graceful way to handle this?

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Alicia May 20, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Ask her to clarify what she thinks a bridesmaid normally does. Mainly bridesmaid duties are to be a good friend. But ask her what she has in mind. sometimes what people want is lots of prep help sometimes it is just to make sure someone has aspirin and a tide pen. Ask and clarify.Also it is likely what she is trying to do is to communicate to you three that despite wanting a smaller bridal party that she very very much cares about the three of you and wants you to be part of the day. She could clumsy as it is be trying to compliment you

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Clara May 20, 2013 at 4:43 pm

I could be wrong but the first thing I thought when I read it was that she was trying to convey something like “could you do the things bridesmaids normally do–like throw me a bridal shower–but without being in the bridal party?” She probably doesn’t trust her sister to organize a shower. What did your co-non bridesmaids say to the bride when she made this request over the weekend? If you all nodded and smiled then it is best to now clarify what exactly you all agreed to. I will never understand why people think it is more important to have an “even” bridal party than to just ask the people they truly want in the bridal party. It just reinforces the idea that the bridal party member are just props in a show to some people.

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Cyra May 20, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Well, one of them jumped in automatically with, “Of course! I’d love to!” and I asked–probably in not the most gracious way I could have–”what exactly does that mean?” To which she gave some sort of, “you know, be there for me and manage logistics and stuff” kind of non-answer. I’m sure Alicia is right about it being a clumsy attempt at a compliment, but so is, “you look great! have you lost weight?!” and THAT’S still considered rude! Just trying to figure out if this is one of those situations where I should recognize the attempt and go with it, or if I should let her know–kindly, of course–that I found her request disrespectful and would be happy to attend her wedding should I be invited.

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Alicia May 21, 2013 at 12:11 am

Go with it. There is no benfit in making her feel alkward. unlike the you look great have you lost weight example this is one wedding and she is not likely to repeat it any time soon. So just be happy and supportive.

Elizabeth May 21, 2013 at 10:36 am

I would absolutely not ‘kindly’ let her know that you found her request disrespectful. There’s no kindly way to do it, and I think you’d be reading the worst possible motives in to it. I would approach it from an emotionally more generous place. At this point, your friend has asked for your help, but been very vague about it. I’ll bet that the enthusiastic friend will probably be the pseudo-MOH, and will take on organizing the rest of you if the bride doesn’t do it herself. Since you really haven’t been asked for anything in particular, I would just do nothing until you are actually asked for something. At that point, you can decide whether that particular request is something you want to do. Or, you can politely decline. I would definitely not keep asking her for instructions for tasks that you are already predisposed not to want to do! Personally, I would celebrate the fact that I have gotten out of paying hundreds of dollars for a dress, mandatory hair and make-up, and the ‘honor’ of standing for an hour in uncomfortable shoes while not really being able to see the ceremony!

Cyra May 21, 2013 at 11:40 am

Thanks, ladies! I will take your advice, let it go, and just see what happens.

This is why forums are a good thing :)

Chocobo May 22, 2013 at 10:04 am

I don’t think that there’s a good way to let her know that her request is awkward — not to mention a back-handed compliment — without hurting her feelings. However, that doesn’t mean you have to accept her request. If she expects you to throw a bridal shower or other typical bridal party duties, you absolutely have no obligation to do so. Even bridesmaids don’t have an obligation to such duties, and non-bridesmaids even less so. If it turns out that she starts calling you to tell you when to plan the shower, you can certainly use the ambiguousness of your “honorary” non-position to your advantage: say, “Oh, I wasn’t really expecting to do that. I thought I was just going to be there for you like you said. Unfortunately I’m not really able to do that since I hadn’t planned on it.”

Paula May 22, 2013 at 5:33 pm

While she should have been more specific with you, it sounds like she just wants you to be there for her on the wedding day, to help her get dressed and be there to support her since she’ll probably be nervous.

Clara May 20, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I have been in a public sector professional position at a new location for 6 months. Prior to that I was at another location for almost 5 years. I really like my co workers and I get along well with everyone. However, I have a couple of things that stick in my craw. I realize that the times are not good and I should be grateful to have a full time job, which I certainly am. However, I have come to find that while this is a better place than my previous location, people here basically flat out don’t have to do the things that they don’t want to do. So, the tasks that they do not feel like doing are left to me. About 2 months in, I was given responsibilities that belonged to a colleague because he was “incapable of completing these tasks.” So basically, he has less to do and makes the same money as I do. The original position I was hired for is much more interesting to me and a better fit than the responsibilities that have been stripped of the colleague. I did not look for his job and while I had these responsibilities at my past job, I was hoping to move on from them. Basically, it involves working with teenagers, and I prefer to work with adults. However, when an employer sees on your resume that you did something in the past, they assume that you would enjoy continuing to carry out that responsibility. In addition, the colleague who had most of the responsibilities taken away from him still attends outside meetings where he earns continuing education credits, even though I have to do the most taxing tasks. So, I am starting to get a tad bit resentful. This is sort of a multi-layered problem, but I am always so nervous when it comes to handling workplace issues. P.S. I cannot ask for a raise b/c we have a public employee contract, so that type of thing doesn’t happen.

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Jody May 21, 2013 at 6:33 am

Clara — I’d suggest meeting with HR about the issue. If you have a “probationary period” to get through, as many jobs do, that evaluation would be a perfect time to have the discussion. I’d ignore the salary question but raise the point that the position seems to be evolving into something different from the position for which you were hired and for which you seem a better fit.

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Elizabeth May 21, 2013 at 10:28 am

I wonder if you could call a meeting with your boss and this guy (the involved parties) to ‘clarify duties’. Say that it would make more sense to divide the work according to ‘projects’ – so if you’re working with the kids, then it would make sense for you to attend the kid-related meetings, or whatever. I think you cannot really appeal to ‘fairness’ or ‘what you were promised when hired’ – you’ll sound like a spoilsport and a non-team player. You have to pitch it in terms of ‘benefit to the company’. I think you can also make the argument that you need to have the opportunity for the continuing ed credits as well. Otherwise, it’s time to start looking for another job. And, at the next job, make it clear from the get-go that you are through working with one group and are seeking a position working with another group, etc.

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Vanna Keiler May 21, 2013 at 1:32 pm

I agree somewhat with Jody and Elizabeth, in that you should speak up for yourself if you feel the scales of fairness have been broached. I also agree that it does seem unfair that you have a bigger work load due to someone else’s incompetencies. I would talk to your supervisor, but go into the meeting prepared with what you perceive to be the issue, and how you would like it handled. Perhaps offer some options (e.g. “At the minimum, I would also like to receive the same opportunities, and my extra work load will somehow be recognized and rewarded, if nothing else can be done at this point, such as an extra day off, etc.”). Keep it factual and avoid getting emotional. If your needs are not met, you should consider moving on, and definitely take that aspect of your experience off your resume (the one you no longer want to repeat!).

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Winifred Rosenburg May 20, 2013 at 4:53 pm

I am a musician. I have been hired by an outside organization to play at a veterans hospital on Memorial Day. The organization that hired me has asked me after the performance to talk to the veterans and get feedback. They want me to tell them what people said so they can quote them on the organization website. They asked for specific comments, more than just “I liked it.” I generally feel uncomfortable soliciting compliments, and under the circumstances I feel particularly awkward about it. Does anyone have suggestions on how I should handle this to avoid being rude or insensitive to the emotional state of the people I’ll be playing for?

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Cyra May 20, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Hi Winifred,

Is your music part of a larger program? If so, then I think it’s fine to go around asking people what specifically they liked about the program, and what they might like to see next year…particularly if you present yourself as someone soliciting feedback in some sort of official capacity. Maybe say something like, “XYZ organization has asked me to get people’s feedback about this year’s event. Anything you’d like to share that you particularly liked, or would like to see changed for next year?” The replies people give you, though, would likely be skewed because I imagine people will be hesitant to say “I didn’t really like the music, I wish it were more…” to you! But as long as the organization realizes that the feedback about the music isn’t going to be particularly valid, and they’re ok with that, then I suppose that’s up to them.

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Winifred Rosenburg May 20, 2013 at 7:27 pm

As far as I know the music is the entire program, but I may find out otherwise when I get there. The idea is to provide entertainment to hospital-bound veterans.

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Just Laura May 21, 2013 at 10:45 am

What a great idea.
Could you ask something to the effect of, “If you enjoyed the program, do you feel comfortable making a statement describing your impressions?”
If they feel uncomfortable, they can safely decline without saying they didn’t like it.

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Alicia May 21, 2013 at 12:08 am

Not everyone would want to be quoted even if they say the words to you. Why not suggest that there gets to be a peice of paper that people can write their name and their reactions to the show on for quoting this should also make it so that they are signing something allowing the organization to use their quote on the websites and programs.

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Elizabeth May 21, 2013 at 10:21 am

How about creating some pre-printed comment forms. Before you begin, you can announce that the forms are available with some pens on a couple of conveniently-located tables, and then ask that people write their thoughts after the show. You can make it a kind of creative exercise through your phrasing of the questions. Who was your favorite composer that you heard today and why? What did the music make you think of as you were listening? etc.

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Vanna Keiler May 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Hi Winifred. I would also feel uncomfortable and awkward approaching patrons. This request from the organization is highly unusual and sounds disorganized on their part. Why would they ask YOU to solicit comments on their behalf about your performance? Perhaps you can revisit the issue with the official at hand, and suggest the comment forms’ ideas the other posters have suggested, in lieu of you openly soliciting comments yourself. They may readily agree.

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Chloe May 20, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Hello – I have a question about wearing white to a bridal luncheon and/or shower. I never heard that it is improper etiquette to wear white to these events, but my friend told me that ladies are not supposed to wear white to ANY event related to someone’s wedding (other than your own).

Please help — true of false? Thank you!

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Winifred Rosenburg May 20, 2013 at 7:22 pm

You can wear white to pre-wedding events. The reason for the no-white-at-weddings rule is the bride generally where’s white so a guest wearing white can be seen as an attempt to compete with the bride. Brides are not expected to wear white to pre-wedding events so the color is not reserved for them as it would be at the wedding itself.

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Tamara May 20, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Hello, my sister called a couple of weeks ago and invited herself and her family (husband & 3 kids) to our house for the long Memorial Day weekend. My question is, would it be acceptable to ask them to bring some of the food for the weekend? Money is rather tight right now and my sister knows this. If we’d extended the invitation I wouldn’t dream of asking, but she did invite herself and 5 extra people for 3 days is a significant expense.

Thanks!

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Alicia May 21, 2013 at 12:13 am

Asking her to bring food or pay for food may be tricky but defining the limits of your hospitality ie sure a place to stay and breakfast but not making lunches or dinner for folks is reasonable. Memorial day is coming up so clarify what you are and are not willing to host asap.

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Elizabeth May 21, 2013 at 10:23 am

Perhaps you could phrase the question a more savvy way. You could call to ‘discuss meals’ one evening. Talk about how it would be best to plan in advance for meals for 7-8 people, and as you develop a plan you can say: “Ok, I’ll get the fixings for the homemade pizza night, why don’t you bring the hot dogs and salad for the following day?”

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Just Laura May 21, 2013 at 10:30 am

This is a great idea. If I invited myself to my brother’s house, and he came up with a plan such as the above, it would serve two purposes:
1) Remind me that he’s the one doing me a favor
2) Let us talk out financial obligation in advance. Money surprises are the worst.

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Jody May 21, 2013 at 10:53 am

I think that the “bringing food” question does need to be settled before they get to your house. I like the others’ idea of calling your sister ahead of time but I think you should discuss more than dinners. The call also gives your sister the opportunity to clarify that she intended to bring food with her. If she hems and haws, and is vague about bringing stuff, you can explain that since money is tight you unfortunately won’t be able to treat houseguests to all meals.

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Sue May 22, 2013 at 12:40 am

I hope I’m not sounding greedy but I have something that’s bothering me. Over the years
I have went to countless weddings, showers (wedding & baby), graduations, birthday parties, bought from school fundraisers, etc., from my friends and their kids. Just recently, I finally had something to invite many of those friends to. My daughter recently had a baby and a shower was thrown for her. Not one of those friends (at least 10) came or sent a gift and they all are close enough to know my daughter well too. I know they were all mailed an invitation because I was at the hostess’ house as she addressed them. My daughter even spent over $200 throwing one of them a baby shower the previous year and not even a card from her. I feel used and hurt as does my daughter. Are we wrong for feeling this way, is it being greedy? I feel angry with all of them and will never show up at another event for them. How do I handle this, maybe I should keep my mouth shut?

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Jody May 22, 2013 at 6:30 am

Sue, I can understand your feelings. I do think you should keep quiet and not ask the others why they didn’t send a gift or attend the function. If you get invitations from these others for events and you still feel the same way, I’d politely decline; just say that you have other plans for that day.

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Cyra May 22, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Hi Sue,

I’m sorry this has happened to you, but I agree with Jody. Learning to NOT express our frustrations with people and continuing to respond to them kindly is something I’m trying to learn myself (I had a question on the boards earlier this week about responding to a perceived slight and everyone here very nicely put me in my place!). There isn’t any way to bring this up to your friends, so best to take the high road and let it go. You are absolutely allowed to decline their future invitations, however, and you definitely don’t need to host any more events for them.

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