From the category archives:


Q: When I told a friend about my new job, she said, ‘Wow you must be making the big bucks now.’  Is nothing private anymore?  How should I respond? A: Use humor or evasion to deflect this nosy query.  You might make a light joke, like “Not enough to pay Kaleigh’s next tuition bill!”  Or, […]


Q: The woman next to me at work sneezes in sets of two, through-out the day.  When is the appropriate time to say “God bless you”?  Do I have to say it with every sneeze? A: A single blessing to a serial sneezer is plenty.  Saying “God bless you” or “gesundheit” is a time-honored courtesy, but […]


Q: I’ve grown accustomed to handing over my cell phone when I want to show a photo to a friend, but sometimes people take the opportunity to scroll through my whole album—and some of those shots are pretty personal.  How can I politely prevcnt photo snooping? A: You can discourage prying eyes by using your phone’s settings […]


Q: The neighborhood garbage is collected once a week.  Each household is allowed one can, but we seem to generate more trash than our neighbors do.  Is it OK to put our excess in a neighbor’s half-empty can? B: Ask first.  Don’t assume your neighbor “won’t mind,” especially if you pay for trash pick-up and removal.  […]


Q: A woman I know often uses group text-messages to send invitations—and I end up getting tons of replies from people I don’t know.  Help! A: A short text (sent just to her) with a nice request should quash the e-flurry.  You can’t lose with a clear, straight-forward text: “Not sure if you realize it, but […]


Q: My friend constantly reapplies her lipstick at the table when we’re out for a meal.  How can I clue her in to the fact that this is impolite? A: Her habit may annoy you, but it’s just as rude to impose your rules on your friend.  When you’re out to eat with friends or […]


Q: When eating in a booth, is it okay to set an empty dish on another closer to where the waitress may pick it up? A: Generally speaking, plates should not be stacked in anticipation of one clearing the table even if your intentions are good. It is safer and more helpful to the waitstaff […]


Q: My mother has always insisted upon a particular point of telephone etiquette – she insists that a telephone call should always be terminated by the person who placed the call. Occasionally, we endure a short, awkward silence on the phone when I call her and forget that I was the person that actually placed […]


Q: Should a lady cross her legs at the knee or at the ankle? A: While good posture when seated is as essential as when standing, there is no specific etiquette guideline which suggests that it is more correct for a lady to cross her legs at the knee or at the ankle. The focus […]


Q: My mother-in-law is hosting the family Christmas this year. We are wondering what the proper etiquette is for the chargers while people are eating. Are they to be removed from the table or do you place your plate full of food on them? A: The first course is served on top of it, in […]