Life is a Revolving Door, But Who Goes First?

Q: My office is currently having a debate about this. When a man and a woman enter a revolving door, who enters first? Is there a reason for this?

A: Men traditionally enter a revolving door first, if it isn’t moving, but women enter first if it is already in motion.  This old bit of etiquette was based on the notion that women needed help to push the door.  Today the person in front enters first and pushes. The best idea is to signal your intentions: “After you,” or ” Let me get the door started for you.”

Miss History: What are the Origins of the “Miss” Title?

Q: Can you tell me the origin of the title ‘Miss’ for an unmarried female?

A: Traditionally a woman’s social title was tied to her marital status. Young girls and unmarried woman were referred to as “Miss,” which is the shortened form of the archaic “Mistress.” The term ‘mistress’ was used to refer to both married and unmarried women until it was replaced by the abbreviation  ‘Mrs.’ for a married woman and ‘Miss’ for an unmarried woman or girl. The term ‘mistress’ was also used to refer to a woman who owned property or who was in a position of authority in a household.

Thanks But No Thanks: How to Politely Deny Pushy Free Trials

Q: There is a new store in the entrance hallway of the mall at which I am employed. Every single time I or anybody else walks by, there is an employee out front offering a free massage sample.

On my way into work, I tell them I have to go to work, but they ask again as I leave. It’s annoying and I don’t think I should have to dread walking through the door for fear of being harassed. What can I tell them, or should I complain to mall management? It’s literally every single time.

A: Introduce yourself and explain to those employees that you work in the mall and really do not need a free massage sample.  So since you will see them twice a day, you would prefer if they would not offer you samples.  If they persist, discuss this problem with the health store manager.  If the situation doesn’t improve, report it to the mall management.

Busy Bee: When Does it Become Rude to Not Have Replied to an E-Mail?

Q: I’m generally a very busy person and often I don’t have enough time to reply straight away to e-mails I receive from family/friends. So, my question is what is the polite response time to family/friends – or to put it another way, after what period of time does it become rude to not have replied?

A: An email should be replied to in less than a week. If it will take you longer than a week to reply, a simple message saying something like “I got your email, I’ve been really busy but I want to catch up with you, I’ll email you back as soon as I get a moment ” would be fine. It acknowledges you have received the email, so the sender won’t be wondering whether maybe they had the wrong address for you, or there was some other delivery problem.

Irrational Implications: Dealing with Friends and Family That Make too Many Assumptions

Q: My husband and I work for the government in very stressful jobs. My in-laws are stuck in the cliche that working for the government is easy and imply frequently when we meet. I find it very offensive. Is there an appropriate way to broach this topic with them?’

A: Sure. Tell them that it hurts your feelings that they don’t take the time to understand that your jobs are challenging and stressful. Say, “May I tell you about just one week on the job so perhaps you understand?” If they brush off this effort, then continue to tell them, every time they comment, that they have upset you with their assumptions. And then change the subject. There is no need to be defensive or rude in return, just be matter-of-fact and move to a different topic.