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Q: When working in a government office, is it proper to call your superior by his or her first name as long as they are not in an appointed position? A: Some people think informality makes things easier and less stressful at work.  So they’re surprised when I explain that, in general, informality actually adds […]


“Chipzilla”: Concern with a noisy eater

by epi on December 20, 2012

Q: How do you quiet an overly loud potato-chip eater?  Every afternoon, my co-worker eats a whole bag of potato chips, and the sound of her munching is so noisy that I can hardly hear myself think while I’m on the phone.  We’ve nicknamed her “chipzilla.”  Please help! A: You could try shouting out: “Chips […]

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Q: There are 25 employees in our organization.  Our holiday dinner party always includes employees and their guests.  We also have three temporary employees, and I’m unsure whether they should be invited to the event, as well.  What’s your opinion? A: The spirit of the holiday season suggests that including the temporary workers would be […]


Coworker Conundrum: How to show support

by epi on December 13, 2012

Q: Your coworker shared her good news that she was pregnant. Later, you learn that she has miscarried, what is the best way to approach the situation? A: Say nothing; some things are private. With a good friend you would be more personal, but saying nothing is the best approach- until she shares the news […]


Q: I had a terrible cold the other day at work.  Just as I was blowing my nose at my desk, my manager walked up to introduce someone, and he immediately reached out to shake hands.  What should I have done?  I felt terrible having to shake his hand, but I can’t go to the […]


Q: When sending out the corporate Christmas card, is it appropriate for a company to mention that it has made a donation to a charity, even if this donation wasn’t made on behalf of anyone receiving the card? A: Corporate gifts at holiday time are a time-honored tradition especially to good clients or suppliers.  Most […]

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Q: I’ve been the supervisor of a small medical clinic for the past couple of years.  Unfortunately, I’m having a problem with a secretary who’s been with the company for two decades.  She isn’t entirely truthful, and often embellishes the severity of incidents and starts office gossip.  Most recently, in talking to another co-worker about […]

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Q: After being out of work for two years, I finally landed a job in a family-run consulting firm.  The problem is, the family members all scream and fight with each other, and they treat their workers the same way.  One of the family members, who I don’t even report to, recently gave me a […]


Q: I work at a hotel, a four-star property where “ladies and gentlemen serve ladies and gentlemen.”  Recently, we got a new general manager.  He was never formally introduced to the staff in a general assembly, not to individual departments and employees.  I don’t believe it’s proper business etiquette for employees to have to seek […]


Q: When writing to someone who claims the title “Esquire,” I was taught to leave off the designations Mr., Mrs., or Ms. Also, what is the proper usage of Esquire when sending an invitation to a couple? A: “Esquire” is a professional designation in the legal arena, not a social designation.  When you correspond with […]