Appointment Affirmation: Should you confirm an appointment the day before?

Q. Hello. I would like to know if you feel it is proper to phone the day before an interview to ‘confirm’ the appointment. I have always done this as a courtesy to the interviewer so they would know my intent on following through with the appointment. I was told by an interviewer recently, that I had committed a faux pas. She stated that she was capable of ‘managing her appointment book’. Your input would be greatly appreciated.

A. No, that was not a faux pas at all. It is perfectly professional to confirm appointments. In fact, I get letters regularly from people who are outraged because they assumed an appointment was set, did not confirm, and arrived to find no appointment at all had been recorded. There was nothing wrong with what you did, and it certainly was not a personally-directed affront to the interviewer. She perhaps was being a tad defensive, for no reason at all.

Office Gossip: Is whispering in the office appropriate?

Q. When is whispering appropriate in an office environment ?  If something is so private that it should not be overheard, the speakers should have the courtesy to the adults nearby to discuss it in a private place.

A. While there are no specific rules of etiquette apply to your particular question, we can suggest that all colleagues sharing the same work space utilize the underlying principles of etiquette: respect for others and yourself, honesty in examination of problems and in your communications, and consideration of and kindness towards others. We are confident that these principles will guide you towards a harmonious workplace.

Office Odors : How to politely tell someone about their scent

Q. I work in a ‘cube’ office environment, so any strong scents are easily detectable due to the close proximity of co-workers. I have one co-worker in particular who always wears very strong perfume/cologne that irritates my allergies and occasionally gives me a migraine. This interferes with my work, but after repeated emails to this person’s supervisor, nothing has changed even though the supervisor has sent general emails about strong scents to the department as a whole. Is there a tactful way I can do something about this without creating an enemy?

A. If you have already spoken to your colleague’s supervisor, then your best course of action is to go directly to the source. If the supervisor’s general emails have gone unheeded, perhaps it is because this person is unaware that they are wearing such a strong scent. Talk openly and politely to the offending colleague, and try to make them aware of the severity of your medical condition. Be straightforward but tactful, and ask that they refrain from wearing the perfume/ cologne at work so that you will not be affected.h

Evening Wear: A description of ‘After 5 Attire’

Q: I have been invited to a holiday party. The invitation states after 5 attire. I have a tux and suits, but I am not sure exactly what that means. My friends are asking me and they also didn’t know.

A: It is always a very good idea to call and ask when people give unclear directions with their personalized dress codes. However, it is assumed that this means a man would wear a suit, shirt and tie; a woman a dressy day dress or suit, or even pant ensemble.