Hesitant Hands: Distributing Items to Clients

Q: As an Assistant, I was asked to bring in tea to a conference room. I had no tray, just a hot water container, cups and tea. I clumsily brought it into the room and set it on the credenza at the back of the room. The guests were already sitting at the table. I was then asked to get some aspirin. I brought in four packets and handed them to the guest, leaving the water on the credenza for my boss to hand to the guest. What would have been the proper way of handling this?

A: If as an assistant you are being asked to perform duties relating to food and/or beverage service your employer should provide you with the necessary serving items. The coffee, water, cups, saucers and glasses, along with the aspirin should all have been transported on a tray and set on the credenza and then distributed to each guest one at a time.

Late Notices: How far in Advance Should Business Meeting invitations be Recieved?

Q: When sending an e-mail invitation for a meeting to employees, how far in advance should they receive the invitation. Example: Let’s say the meeting is March 13th – when should the e-mail invite have been sent. Thanks in advance for your help!

A: It’s best to give as much advance notice as possible. A general guideline is at least one week for in-house meetings, two to four weeks for formal meetings. Another important thing to remember is the longer the meeting, the more schedule-shifting it will require for participants. However, this is only a guideline and it could depend on the urgency of the meeting, the number of employees, etc.

Business Dining: When is it Approproate to Begin Eating?

Q: Recently I was attending a business dinner with about 30 people in our party. I thought the proper etiquette for when I could start eating in a group this large, was when the person to my right and left were both served, it was OK to begin. As I started to eat, another person in the party 4 seats down from me (and already had his food) gave me a terrible look….his thought was we need to wait for everyone in the group to be served. With a group this large, the meal came out in phases (and was already getting cold) so what should I do when faced with this situation again?

A: The “rule” is, unless the meal consists of cold courses, your fellow diners (including the host, if any) will usually urge you to go ahead and start so your food won’t grow cold. If the group is large, begin eating once at least three of you have been given your food. At a small table of only two to four people, it’s better to wait until everyone else has been served before starting to eat. If the meal consists of cold courses, such as sandwiches, you should wait until everyone has been served. At a formal or business meal, you should either wait until everyone is served to start or begin when the host asks you to.

Wedding Showers: What to do for Co-Workers Going into Second Marriages?

Q: Hi, our question is about a co-worker, who we all love and care about, who is getting married in April. She and her fiance are having a private wedding, in the Dominican Republic. . There is no family attending at their request. This is her fourth wedding and his second. What we are wondering is what would be considered appropriate for us to do for her as co-workers? We would certainly take up a collection and give them a gift certificate as a wedding gift, however, is a wedding shower appropriate? They are currently living together, both with all the ‘things’ they need. It appears as though she is hinting around that she is expecting us to do something for her but we are unsure as to what is appropriate. Your prompt response is greatly appreciated.

A: Yes, it is fine for a group of co-workers to host an office shower even though they aren’t invited to the wedding. The shower in this case is their way of wishing the couple well. Therefore, it would be fine for you and other co-workers to host a shower.

Make-shift Receptionist: What should we do if one co-worker can’t participate in birthday celebrations at the office?

Q: I work in an office with five support staffers including me, and four managers.  We have a long-held tradition of acknowledging birthdays with a small celebration in the office including cake and a gift.  One of the support staff joined us only recently and we learned that her religion prevents her from celebrating birthdays.  She asked us to not acknowledge her birthday nor invite her to our birthday celebrations; she said she would not be offended. I feel it will be awkward with her right in the office while we are making merry celebrating in the conference room.  In addition, she does not know when the birthdays fall and consequently it is always a surprise to her.  In the past we all joined in on the celebrations and collaborated if the phone rang or a visitor came during the short celebration.  How do we best handle this situation?

 

 

A: Your plan to share covering the office sounds like an excellent idea.  There would be no reason for you to discontinue answering phones and visitors the way you have always done just because this co-worker could be considered available.  You can tell her that you respect her wishes and that you will let her know when parties will be taking place, but that she will not be expected to take on reception or telephone duties because you have always simply taken turns in the past and will continue to do so in the future.