My question is about finding a polite way to ask for money owed.
My college student daughter babysat for a family this summer and never really got paid. There were many perks that included afternoons at their swell beach club, meals in expensive restaurants, and there was always adequate money given to her to take the two children shopping for clothing, toys and ice-cream, snacks and meals, as well as for tickets to the movies or amusement parks.
And when she returned the change at the end of her shift, the father said to keep it, but the change never covered the cost per hour nor the use of her car to chauffeur the children around.
The family live in a mansion and servants were in evidence, but they never actually paid her! How should she go about asking them to pay her for her time?
–EL, Bridgehampton, NY
- Then she'll have to decide what to charge (if that amount had not been agreed upon), which could be anywhere from $12 to $18 an hour. It should list the cost per week: July 3-7, 25 hours, July 10-16, 37 hours.
- Plus tack on the cost of a tank of gas for every four weeks.
- Have your daughter submit her bill as soon as possible, so that the memory of her helpfulness is fresh. The stingiest people are often the richest.
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This question is about how to overcome painful shyness.
Our ward who lives with my family, and who comes from Tibet, is excruciatingly shy. When we take this sweet 25-year-old to social events she hides behind my husband or me. She’s attractive, but her social skills are so awkwardly timid that she doesn’t have any friends.
I should add that my husband and I are professors and our Tibetan guest is very-well educated. She came to us through the college where I teach.
How do we assist this graduate student in having polite conversational skills?
–RW, Charleston, NC
- Ahead of time, prepare to have an opening gambit. A tidbit of information you read about or saw on the news whether it be the riots in St. Louis or the latest freaky fact on climate change.
- After you've been introduced to someone don't wait for an awkward silence. Ask questions. Where are you from? What do you do? How do you know the host? How are you connected to the event? Do you go to school or teach here?
- Never be afraid of sounding boring. At first the other person will be relieved that you're carrying the small talk. For a while, that is.
- Eye contact and a friendly smile go a long way in encouraging the other person to speak up.
- Once a conversation gets going give the other person a turn to talk: take turns listening and talking.
- During a one on one conversation, do not look over the other person's shoulder because that's a sign that you're bored with what the person is saying.
- It is better to escape than stay in a boring conversation. Say that you're going off to get something to drink (or eat) and ask if they would like to come. If they tag along, introduce them so someone else. Or simply say, "I'm going off to talk to someone I had hoped would be here."
- Role play a simple handshake no longer that three seconds. both of your respective vertically positioned right hands come at each other, thumbs pointed up toward the ceiling, pinky down. With palms facing they come together for a gentle squeeze and quickly release.
- It's polite to always shake hands and introduce yourself even if there is one person who knows you in a group. The act of shaking hands is a conversation starter.
- It's always good manners to stand when someone comes into the room for the first time. She wouldn't do so at home with you, but if you take her with you out for dinner, she would stand when an older person came on the scene and introduce herself if someone hasn't already done so.
- All introductions should be made while standing. It would be rude to shake hands with someone if she was seated at the time. Of course the exception would be if the person was elderly or disabled.
- It is correct to stand when someone leaves the room and says good night.
- A host in particular should always stand to greet guests, so when you entertain at home she would participate in the hosting by standing when each new person arrived, and presumably introducing herself, if she didn't know them.
- Making an entrance: Avoid turning your back on anyone in the room, so you would close the door behind you while remaining face-on and moving forwards into the room.
- Exiting a room: Try to exit through the door so that the last impression people have of you is NOT your rump.
- Seated, for instance, at a table she would talk to her neighbors on her right and left for equal amounts of time, but she would never fully turn her back to either of them. The cue to turn to talk to the other person would be with the change of courses.
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As a white-shoe lawyer, I’ve gone from never having been to a therapist to recently taking on two very different therapists and I’m wondering if this is proper etiquette?
Neither knows about the other.
Originally I had three referrals. Didn’t like the first one and very much liked the second and third ones equally. I can’t decide who I prefer. So I go once a week to both and discuss the same issues.
One therapist is a straight intellectual. The other is a gay man like myself and consequently we have similar lifestyles. I feel that these two male psychotherapists are a good balance.
I would never play one against the other or divulge to one what the other said in response to a question or issue.
Do I have a moral obligation to tell the two men about the other?
- The therapist you tell first about the other will feel morally responsible and tell you that the confidentiality exception needs to exist for him to talk to the second therapist.
–Polly, Boston, MA
- Decide on the best time.
- Make an appointment to assure your employer's full attention.
- Dress for the position you eventually hope to obtain.
- Know your number and prepare to justify it.
- Don't get personal, your finances are not relevant to the discussion.
- Put together and pin down the facts that show how you have benefitted the company.
- Be prepared to offer ideas for alternative benefits that are performance-based.
- Thank your boss for discussing your salary with you.
- Ask for your year-end performance review.
- Don't take it as an insult if you are shot down.
- Illustrate how you've built rapport, adapted your style, uncovered a client's need. Anything that will demonstrate to your boss that you know how to prepare and deliver a sales pitch.
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–WG, Bar Barbor, ME
- The etiquette goes back to when ladies exited horse drawn carriages while managing layers of a long skirt with petticoat as they jumped to the ground. It was useful to have a gallant companion there to lend a hand.
- The need for another person to lend a convenient hand or have the strength to open a heavy door on a date no longer exists.
About decoding curiously intriguing kisses and hugs, such as in XOXO? What do they say about relationships.
Tell us Didi, if you wouldn’t kiss someone in real life, then why would you add kisses at the end of a text, IM or email? Most of my friends end their messages with x or xx or xxx, but I wouldn’t kiss most of them when meeting and greeting face to face.
–SP, Cambridge, MA
- XX are two kisses for friendship.
- XX says kiss kiss and also bye bye.
- XXX are three kisses and an an expression of love.
- XOXO are kisses and hugs.
- xXx is more often used abroad: the small x represents a small kiss on the left cheek, X a big smack on the lips, followed by another small kiss on the right cheek.
- XXX can mean that the person is straight edge, as in I went to this party and did not drink because I'm straight edge XXX.
- XXX is a lifestyle signal clarifying that the sender doesn't smoke, drink or do drugs. The no-nos can also include even abstinence from sex and/or that the sender is a vegetarian.
- X represents a kiss, although the custom of using X as a symbol for yourself (as your own name) dates back to when most people simply marked an X is they didn't know how to write their name, and sealed their mark with a kiss.
- There are religious theories that illiterate Christian usage of X, symbolizing the cross that stood for Christ -- as in Xmas -- to sign their name.
- Whereas people of the Jewish faith used a circle, the symbol O, for their mark, which in Yiddish means "kikel."(Many etymologists think this is how the derogatory racial slur for Jewish, "kike," came about.)
- Here is a stretch: Many believe the O made the jump to mean "hug," because looking down at the circle it looked like two people embracing.
- You might hug an acquaintance, and also kiss someone you felt about more deeply.
- One doesn't want to be presumptuous and go for the kiss first if you haven't ever hugged the person first.
This is a question about toddler etiquette and not about parenting. Some parents are out of control about letting their small child act out their feelings and rights as a free spirit, but then what? The toddler gets out of control.
–AJ, Foster, RI
- Nor is it about setting boundaries that compromise their unalienable rights.
- Do prep work. Let the child know what to expect.
- Sit down on the floor with your toddler, make eye contact, and talk to him or her about the adventure they are about to undertake on a playdate with another toddler, at a birthday party, or on a visit to the grandparents at Thanksgiving.
- Hitting: Be nice. No grabbing, hitting, spitting, kicking or biting. If you've ever spent time with a toddler you know that they don't hit only once, they'll repetitively hit that stick at least ten to twelve times until they're calmed. Most often, physically taking the hitter out of the room gives you both a chance to change the channel in her/his brain.
- Annoying: When a child is being obnoxious there's not much you can do but let it play out until he decides it is boring to be annoying.
- Snacking: Snacks should be divided into separate containers (cups, plates, bowls) to avoid a possible tantrum from a grabbing fellow hoarder.
- Sharing: Toys should be shared, but if a toddler isn't ready to give up their favorite truck or doll, it may mean that he isn't ready to understand the concept. Distract with other toys.
- Dancing and singing always change the tone, so turn on and turn up music.
- Eating: When they're ready to experiment with flatware and new foods, they'll become curious if they see utensils and different foods often. The worst things you can say are, "Look at how nicely Jack uses his fork," or "Wow, watch Serena lovingly eating her broccoli trees."
- Disruptive: Again, extract and distract your toddler. When you're alone with her/him, sit down together and while making eye contact, gently explain to her/him the consequences of exactly what s/he did that you didn't like.
- Snobbery: Don't allow your toddler to be a snob. A child who snubs by ignoring and refusing to talk to someone who is trying to make contact and connect is rude. Selective hearing is not a social skill and shouldn't be tolerated. It is disrespectful and unfriendly. If s/he doesn't like Uncle Tom's pipe tobacco breath, then s/he can stand back and talk to him nicely by answering a question before moving away.
- Potty training: Don't use food to bribe a toddler to sit on the potty. Keep a surprise small toy -- a poop prize -- on hand for after s/he's used the potty. Make it a reward for not having had an accident. While potty training in someone else's home, keep her/him close by, even if you have to put her/him on your lap.
- Bedtime: Stay on her/his sleep schedule to avoid a melt down.
How to stop crying and pining over unrequited love?
Since my ex and I broke up, I can’t seem to love any other guy. I can’t get him out of my head. Every time I have sex with a new guy, the last thing he does makes me want to break off the relationship. Most often or perhaps all the time, they come back begging but I would have already moved on in less than a week and the process continuous as I look for love.
My ex and I broke up about a year ago. The relationship was not balanced, but I still hold him dear to my heart and respect him for the things he taught me and for his sincerity. I can’t lie I still love him. No matter how much I try, I just can’t come across anyone to love like I loved him.
- Then hide the letter. When you're feeling extremely sad, take out the letter and reread it. Eventually you will stop reading the letter.
What about restaurant hospitality advice and etiquette?
When a waiter is carrying something or briskly walking past to fetch an order, is it correct etiquette for him or her to crossover in front of an approaching guest? We have great discussions about this at the restaurant where I work because we’ve had a lot accidents when waitstaff collided with guests? Who has the right of way, the waiter or the guest?
–CD, Newport, RI
- The guest or client has the right of way. It goes along with "the customer is always right." Waitstaff should be trained to respect the guests in the restaurant by letting them pass through first.
My question concerns how to handle a friend’s disclosure of their terminal illness.
- Is it possible that the terminally ill member gave her consent?
- Before doing so you would, of course, have to tell your terminally ill friend about your plan. Which means mentioning that the whole garden club knows about her brain tumor.
- Just be sure that you have a list of her favorite foods as well as those she dislikes.
My question is about parent sitting mom and dad.
I am the 35-year-old second son of parents who had a contentious divorce. My siblings are married with children and live plane rides away.
I, however, am between both parents geographically. I have a two-hours drive either north or south from my house to one parent or the other. I do the lions share of the parent sitting. It has become my lot in life to entertain them separately twice a month. Since I am a workaholic, it means four Saturdays a month are spent with one or the other.
I have no life outside work. How do I ween them before they get too old when I’ll be feeling even more guilty?
- Try whittling down your visits to holidays.
- Start by begging off one Saturday a month, bringing you down to having two Saturdays when you're fancy free.
- Once they get used to not planning on seeing you so often, they'll start making other plans.
- Whittling down your Saturday obligations may take some socializing on your part.
My question is about preparing our student with social skills and manners.
Not to boast, but our son is extremely intelligent. However, he seems to lack certain social skills. As parents, what can we do to help him fit in better?
–PW, Seattle, WA
- Early on help him to identify and discuss his emotions, and to be able to self soothe, wait patiently, problem solve, delay gratification, and maintain control over his emotions.
- Good manners and social skills will take him a long way with his teachers as well as the other students. He should be able to carry on a conversation with a person of any age. And be able to stick up for a friend by speaking up. He should know when to keep a secret and when to refuse to keep a secret.
- Talk about the importance of being a good listener, and when to recognize when he's made a mistake and needs to apologize.
- He should be able to talk over a disappointment or disagreement and be able to say I love you and give a big hug to those who are that special to him.
- Help him to understand that there will be times when he has to be flexible and go to a contingency plan if something doesn't pan out as planned.
- Hold the door open for people.
- When walking never crossover in front of another person, because you could trip them up.
- Let women on elevators and escalators first.
- When talking face-to-face remove earbuds and sunglasses.
- Never touch or push people away, unless the touch was inappropriate.
- Don't ask personal questions, such as how much do your parents make?
- Get comfortable with hand shaking and introducing himself by saying, "Hello, my name is ..." when he meets someone new.
- Make introductions if you're not positive that people know one another. Even if he just says, "Jack this is Oscar."
- Don't whisper in front of another person: it's rude.
- Basic table manners: eating with a knife and fork, not blowing his nose at the table, and not chewing with his mouth open.
- Always, say Please, Thank you, You're Welcome, and "Excuse me, please."
- Set boundaries.
- When leaving a voicemail or message for him, say "Mr. Jones here." Referring to yourself as Mr. Jones in his presence should help.
- Correct someone who is overly familiar by assuming that you've got a nick name.
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- But first talk to him suggesting that there are many options for treatment in addition to 12-step programs and residential treatments.
- You can have a positive impact on his motivation to learn new patterns of behavior.
- Addiction and shame go hand and hand. If your friend is to be saved, compassion from his friends and family may be the only thing that counteracts the isolating, stigmatizing, debilitating poison of shame.
- Shame and addiction are deeply intertwined. For example, alcoholics may be prone to shame by disposition and they may drink, in part, to cope with chronic shame and low self-worth. In addition, drinking can, in turn, cause shame, creating a vicious cycle. -- Beverly Engel
- Don't be one of those friends who has chosen to stay with him in denial about just how serious his problem is.
- Be compassionate by showing him respect and optimism.
- Keep reaching out to him.
Accepting A Compliment