Out of Office: What is the correct way to respond when co-workers ask why you’ve been away?

Q. If you’ve been absent from your workplace due to being hospitalized for an emotional disorder, what are the correct responses to your co-workers when you return and they ask detailed questions about what happened to you?

A. You do not have to give any details regarding your condition or hospitalization. If asked, you may simply reply you’re feeling better and am glad to be back at work. If someone presses you for details, you may just say you prefer not to discuss it but that you appreciate their concern.

Roommate Resolutions: Is it right for my roommate to expect me to pay utilities when I am not living in the house?

Q. My roommate and I have gotten along very well the year we have lived together. However, this summer I will be going home to live with my parents and work two jobs to save up money for tuition and an upcoming wedding. I will definitely pay my half of the rent all summer because I know that is the proper thing to do. However, my roommate says she may not be able to afford utilities by herself this summer and expects me to pay half all summer. I do not see why I should have to pay anything when I will not be using any of the utilities. She is already extremely careless about leaving the lights on and always running the air conditioner even when we are not home. I have suggested to make things cheaper she should disconnect the internet, phone, and cable, but she insists she must have these. Is it right for her to expect me to pay half the utilities although I will not be using them?

A. There is no right or wrong answer to your question. However, if the lease is for a year, it would be logical for you to pay your share of the utilities. If the situation was reversed, would you be willing to pay for all of the utilities and/or disconnect the phone, internet, and cable? Hopefully, you will be able to reach a compromise.

No Call Back: What is the polite way to go about telling an applicant, whom I’ve interviewed, that I am not offering them the job?

Q. I’ve been in management positions on and off for ten years. I am currently hiring a new staff and am not sure of a polite and legal way to go about telling an applicant, whom I’ve interviewed, that I am not offering them the job. I feel it is appropriate to let them know, but I haven’t found the right words to do it. I’ve asked quite a few of my friends and co-workers what they do and all have said that they just blow them off. I don’t feel that is appropriate. Do you have any suggestions?

A. You should be direct but polite. You may tell them in person or by letter that you appreciate their interest in the position but based on the interview, you will not be offering them the position. Thank them for their time and wish them success in their job search. You do not need to go into specifics.

Tips on Takeout : Should you tip when ordering in?

Q. I recently went to a Sushi restaurant to pick up take out for my family and paid by credit card. When I signed the credit card receipt I did not leave a tip. Should I tip when I get take out?

A. A tip isn’t required when picking up a take-out order. However, if this is an establishment that you patronize frequently, and you are pleased with their service, then it is a nice gesture to leave a tip once in a while.

Pointing Procedure : What’s the policy on pointing

Q. What about pointing in public. My ‘Proper Bostonian’ Mother always said ‘It is impolite to point – period’.

I have a friend who points at things freely in stores, even at groups of people. She considers me ‘old fashioned’ about it. I tried to suggest quietly & politely that it’s not proper, but she then laughs out loud and takes me to task for my attitude.

A. Because American culture historically regards pointing at others as negative or hostile, the gesture can be misconstrued, whatever the pointer’s motive. (Are you merely pointing someone out or are you making some comment about him?) Pointing also attracts attention to a person who may not want to be the object of curious glances and stares.