A reader named Ricky7 faces a dilemma: “My boyfriend and I have been friends for years before we started dating. During his last deployment, he brought home some beautiful jewelry. He loves sapphires, so he bought a few. Last summer, shortly after he broke up with his previous gf, he tried to give me a necklace. I couldn’t take it. We had only started dating, and it didn’t seem right. Christmas is coming up, and he’s hinted that I’m getting the necklace.”
more about: etiquette
“You are a terrible mother.” “You should be ashamed of yourself.” “You’re an idiot.” “Your children must hate you so much.”
All this may be true. Yet no one has ever said anything like it to me in person. But during the 12 years since I’ve been writing regular magazine and newspaper columns— about parenting and life and, now, etiquette—I’ve been barraged.
And it’s not just me; vitriol litters nearly any online comments section, no matter how innocuous the topic under discussion.
If you are headed to someone else’s house to celebrate Thanksgiving today, you may have only one burning etiquette question on your mind. Is there a polite way to ask your host to share the leftovers?
I will come clean. I was terrified, when I became Real Simple’s etiquette columnist, because I feared being judged by a new standard when it came to manners. Specifically, people would expect me to have good ones.
Today’s question was posted by stnipper, who wrote: My coworkers have shortened my name to Steph instead of Stephanie. Normally, I would care less. Except now my patients, students and other professional contacts are addressing me as Steph. How should I approach the correction?
Next week Michelle Slatalla a former columnist for the New York Times and an adjunct professor at the Columbia University School of Journalism will be joining Simply Stated as our new Modern Manners blogger. You’ll also be able to read her advice in the print version of Real Simple starting with our November issue.
One of the things she’ll be doing on the blog is helping you solve your etiquette dilemmas. So, before we welcome her aboard next week, we’d love to hear from you about a recent etiquette conundrum that you could use some help with, and Michelle might answer it here on the blog.
Last weekend, I experienced firsthand how this seemingly low-risk question can illicit two wildly opposite responses. The first situation was a potlock dinner at a friend’s house, and it was my husband who asked me if we could invite his out-of-town friend. My first reaction was a swift, “No.” Because no matter how casual a gathering may seem, you never know what the host’s feelings are about having extra guests, and asking only puts her on the spot.
These days, just about everyone has Caller ID on their phone, or a cell phone that shows the number of the caller. So it’s become pretty common for people to answer the phone by addressing the person by name, such as, “Hi, Holly….” Yet for some people, including my mother, it’s jarring to start a conversation this way. It’s as if what was once the natural order of the phone-call universe has been upended. For instance, every time my mother calls and I answer with, “Hi, Mommy!” she’s thrown, saying, “Oh, you already knew it was me…?” I quickly learned that these conversations always got off to a weird start.
In last Sunday’s New York Times, there was a great article about women’s strong—and mostly negative—response to being called “Ma’am.” You can check it out at:
New Yorkers are used to seeing this slogan plastered all over the subways, but when it comes to noticing things that could be hazardous to our friends or their children, is it always acceptable to say something? I’ve found the answer, all too often, is no. Which raises the question: When should etiquette take a back seat to safety concerns?