Open Thread

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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.


  1. Cat

    I have been reading through this website for a few weeks and have come across some advice always given that I am confused about.

    Why, if a wife/girlfriend is being asked questions by her partner’s mother (or any other family member) that she doesn’t want to answer or finds intrusive, is it the partners’s role to talk to their family about it and ask them to stop? Yes, it is their family, but I would be preferring to speak to them myself as they are the one bothering me, and especially if I knew my partner would make little of it or laugh it off like it was nothing, and not ask their mother to stop. (If my partner did that though, I would be seriously considering not being their partner.

    • Elizabeth

      It is generally assumed that a child will be able to bring up difficult subjects with their parents more easily than their partner would. However, it is not rude to address it yourself.

  2. Maggie

    I always face a dilemma at my husband’s company holiday party. Each year, there is a cocktail hour followed by dinner, which is served on a buffet. The buffet opens about an hour before a formal program begins. After we visit the buffet and sit down, should we begin to eat right away? Or do we wait until all of our tablemates arrive? Seating is not assigned and although all of the seats at our table will eventually be taken, due to a long line at the bar or the buffet (or just because of extra socializing), many people do not sit down or even choose a seat until right before the program begins. It seems a bit rude to start to eat before everyone is served but, at the same time, waiting for everyone to take a seat would result in many people eating a cold dinner. What is the rule for WHEN you begin eating in a buffet situation?

    • Alicia

      You may begin eating when you sit down after having visited the buffet. In cases of buffet one does not need for all to get served as all have the option of serving themselves.

  3. Corazon Cook

    My co-worker called me to invite for a pay-your-own-lunch with the rest of the co-workers who were off that day. I answered her and inform her that I took a week off to do something at home. She insisted that I join them at this restaurant at 1PM, Thursday. She gave me the address after I asked for it. When I arrived at the restaurant, she and my co-workers were not there. I called her. She sounded surprised, paused, then recovered to tell me that they changed the luncheon location at the last minute and told me to locate them in that new location. I was shocked but managed to tell her that I was going to eat at that restaurant she had previously told me. Few hours later, she called me two times but I did not answer it. Today she left a message again in my cell phone that she was so sorry for not notifying me of the last minute changes, that she will make up for it. I am hurt because I took time to stop what I was doing to attend to her request but she did not find time to notify me of the last minute changes. I am still fuming. How do I confront her?

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      What would you be looking for in confronting her? She already apologized. She seems to realize you’re upset. What more do you want to accomplish? She screwed up and apologized. That’s what you’re supposed to do when you screw up. If you want, you can not accept any more of her invitations, but nothing will be accomplished by confronting her.

      • Corazon Cook

        Thanks Winifred,
        By confronting her, I might accomplish to change her immature behavior since this was not the first time. And yes, I will accept her apology but I have to tell her that I really did not appreciate that it happened and that it could have been prevented.

    • Elizabeth

      I agree with Winifred. No good can come of your bringing it up again. She already apologized, and it sounded earnest from your description. You should accept the apology and let it go, it sounds like an honest mistake.

      However, part of the reason you may still be angry is because your co-worker pressured you to go to the lunch even though you preferred not to. In the future, stick to your guns – an invitation is not a summons. You are perfectly within your rights and good manners to decline such an invitation – whether or not anyone “insists.” You can simply say, “I’m afraid that won’t be possible, I have other plans.” Your plans may be to stay home and watch TV, but that’s none of anyone’s business.

      • Corazon Cook

        Thanks Elizabeth,
        The reason why I also became angry was when she left the message that I was the only one she did not notify. I am always on the soft side and ready to accommodate others. Now I realize that it is not healthy for me and for them too. I have to stick to my guns. Will I tell her the truth that I did not appreciate what she had done? Yes I will. She will gossip it but I really can’t be bothered with her anymore!

  4. Sheila

    A colleague always uses a comma after the first word in the salutation and a period after the last word. An example is: “Dear, John.” I was taught that “Dear John,” is proper. Is the colleague’s technique acceptable? Is there a reason the colleague does this?

    In addition, they often use “Morning,” instead of “Good Morning” in the salutation. I think this is informal and too laid-back for business emails to external clients. Is this proper?

    • Elizabeth

      You are correct that “morning” is a very informal greeting and probably not suitable for business communications. The punctuation you describe is simply incorrect. However as this person’s colleague and not superior, I don’t know if it is your place to correct him/her. Presumably this person also communicates with his/her boss, so I would let that person handle it.

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