Dodging Debates : How to politely change the subject

Q. How do I gracefully get out of a political discussion. Things get pretty heated when discussing politics. I rarely bring up politics, but what should I do when someone starts a political conversation and I want to politely avoid it. I find discussing politics often brings up bad feelings and is very divisive. Thank you.

A. Say just that. “Whoa, I really am interested in your opinions, but I’ve been in too many discussions that became arguments lately when it came to politics, so if it’s okay with you, I’d rather hear your opinion about . . . . whatever is less sensitive a topic. Or, if this doesn’t seem appropriate, excuse yourself from the group and go to the bathroom, or make a telephone call, or whatever is diversionary. If the conversation is still going on with the group, join another, or just remain silent when you return. If the conversation is with just one person, simply say, “I respect your opinion and will have to think about it. In the meantime, what do you think about. . . “

Funeral Formalities: Should Ex spouses be in attendance?

Q: I have been researching whether or not it is appropriate for my new husband to attend his ex wife’s funeral. They have an adult daughter that will be there and a lot of family from the ex wife’s side. She had been sick ever since they were married. He wants to support his daughter but feels it will be disrespectful to the ex wife. Please give us some advice.

A: Generally, a divorced spouse stays in the background. A note of sympathy is usually called for. An offer of help may be included, but only if you know it will be welcome. A donation to the deceased’s designated charity may be preferable to sending flowers. It’s usually best not to attend the visitation. A divorced spouse can attend the funeral as long as his presence won’t cause discomfort for the family. A divorced spouse does not sit with the family unless asked to. If graveside services are limited to family, a former spouse should not attend unless specifically invited.

First Child: Sending Birth Announcements

Q: I will be having my first child in a few weeks and I was wondering to whom I should send birth announcements? Also do I send them to all of the people who attended my baby shower or just a select few? I have no information on the proper way to send out birth announcements.

A: Birth announcements can be sent to family and friends but are rarely sent to business associates or casual acquaintances. Assuming those who attended the shower are family and friends, you may send them the announcement. If it’s too great a number, you may limit sending announcements to immediate family, close friends, and/or those who do not live locally. The recipient of a birth announcement is not expected to give a gift.

Correct use of ‘Honorable’

Q: Hello, Could you please tell me when it is proper to use ‘The Honorable’ in front of a name. I work for a City, and we are sending out a mailing to current and prior local government officials. I.E City Council Members, Mayors, Judges.

A: “The Honorable:” is an expression that causes considerable confusion. Federal custom in the United States bestows the title “Honorable,” first officially and then by courtesy for life, on the President and Vice President, members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, Cabinet members, all federally judges, ministers plenipotentiary, ambassadors, and governors. State senators and mayors are also referred to as “The Honorable,: but only while they are in office. The title is not used by the person on visiting cards, letterhead, or when neither signing, nor does the individual says it when introducing him﷓ or herself. When an individual is announced as he or she arrives at a large public function, however, the announcer would precede the individual’s name with “The Honorable.”

Meat and Greet: Greeting guests in your home

Q: My husband and I are having a disagreement. When any friend of our teenage daughter enters our house, my husband thinks that they should greet us first. I say that they are guests in our home and we should greet them first. A steak dinner is riding on this…which one of us is right?

A: When a guest enters a room, the host should rise and greet the guest. The same goes for a new person entering a room where others are gathered. The people there should rise and greet the person entering. If your daughter answers the door, she should bring her friend to greet you. For example, your daughter would say “Mom and Dad, Greg is here.” You would then greet Greg, and Greg would then (hopefully!!!) say “Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. It’s nice to see you again.”