Modern Manners + Etiquette: Holiday Q&A
Monday, December 05, 2011
I tend to be comfortable talking to men OR women at a party and sometimes this lands me in an exclusive conversation with the opposite sex. It is only later that I realize that it must have looked perhaps out of line. Nothing suggestive or intimate but the conversation was deep enough to be exclusive. Yet I recall my husband coming into view and that I did not respond with an interruption to my discussion to see what he wanted. Neither did he interrupt. He had been waiting to tell me he wanted to leave. It was not really awkward because the friend is mutual, but I still wonder how I could be so absorbed not to notice and respond to my husband's figure in the proximity. Not sure what my question is, but thought I'd ask anyway.
You were engaged in an interesting dialogue. Perhaps, chemistry was drawing you closer to explore your friend. Perhaps, it was just an intellectually stimulating conversation and, God only knows, those aren't easy to find. It's healthy to travel into other people's minds. That's one of the best reasons to socialize, because socializing helps jog the mind to tune into a different channel.
I'm active in my Facebook community via time spent on the computer. When and where should I NOT mention Facebook? When is it gauche? My circles are not normally out of range, socially, but I forget how it sounds to hear someone mention a topic that reveals their status. Is mentioning Facebook activity a no-no? Such as "I saw that Debbie is going to Mexico?"
You never want to be perceived as a snoop. If you're outed scouting info from random Facebook pages, your friends will think you don't have a life. You reveal you're a snoop when you give up gossip about an acquaintance. What's worse is when you look someone up whom you haven't friended and all of a sudden, if you have friends in common, that person pops up in your People You May Know section. Got you! If you're already Friends, they can tell you're logged on when they see you as Friends on Chat. There's always the possibility that you have your Facebook page permanently in an open window on your screen to, say, keep up on Friends' birthdays, engagements, new babies, and breakups.
Ergo, it would be better to say, "I heard that Debbie is going to Mexico!" Don't say you "saw" she was going to Mexico; say, you "heard" she was going to Mexico.
As to mentioning Facebook, it's like a kid with a new toy who only jabbers about it until it becomes an old toy. There's a mounting snobbery about Facebook. Who really has three thousand friends? Studies show the normal person cannot possibly manage more than 150 friendships. After a certain number everybody knows you don't really know all those friends. People troll to add numbers to their Friends List gallery thinking it is some kind of competition. But guess what? The trend is going in the other direction. It is more about clout. Who you know rather than how many? An exception, of course, would be if you were promoting your business, a specific cause, or point of view, which many of us tend to do. Also, there is a growing snobbery amongst men that Real Men Don't Do Facebook. Whatever that means! They might have a Facebook page, but they don't work it, unless it is to promote their business and improve their clout. Which then leads us to looking at other people's gallery of Friends: when people look at your gallery of Friends, what do they learn about you? It is all about how much you wish to reveal about yourself, your beliefs, and how you want to be perceived, as well as how you spend your time.
What is the correct etiquette for acknowledging a hostess gift? Is it necessary to send a thank-you note to quests who bring you a hostess gift--a bottle of wine, say, or flowers?
As in any social situation, it depends upon the relationship. When you assume you have a reciprocal relationship with the individual, you wouldn't send a thank-you note to your guest for bringing a token thank-you gift. Just as one answers an email with an email and a phone call with a phone call, the proper standard reciprocal is to return an invitation with an invitation. When you know you won't be returning the invitation within the near future because you live far away or just don't entertain, in order to sustain the relationship you would bring the hostess a token gift. The nuance is that the host and guest understand what's expected. The host wouldn't send a thank-you note for a token gift of a bottle of wine, flowers, or box of chocolates because nobody wants a ping-pong game of thank-yous. Does the guest then send a thank-you note for the host's thank-note? I don't think so. The exception would be if the gift were over-the-top, say, a monogram engraved crystal decanter as a thirtieth birthday present. Then a thank-you note from the host would certainly be a just reward!
The host doesn't invite you for dinner expecting a gift. The best possible reciprocal is a return invitation. When the guest knows that she or he won't be able to do that any time soon, s/he brings, or sends, a token thank-you gift or writes a thank-you note.
That said, the host would express appreciation for the gift when it's presented and again when he thanks the guest for coming. In a subsequent conversation, the host can say something such as, "Those lovely Casa Blanca lilies from Robin Hollow Farm that you brought permeated the whole apartment for weeks." Bringing up a gift at a later time is a wonderfully gentle opening to keeping up the friendship. It is akin to saying, "I know you've just moved and won't be set up for entertaining for awhile, so not to worry because the lilies were so lovely."
Didi is horrid about sending thank-you notes and calling the next day to compliment you on your moist and tasty turkey. From time to time, she even snoops to see what her old boyfriends are up to. Didi Lorillard is an etiquette consultant at NewportManners.com. You can find her wasting time on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Klout, after you've read her GoLocalProv columns listed below.
- Modern Manners + Etiquette: Break-Ups and Uncoupling
- Modern Manners + Etiquette: Cheating
- Modern Manners + Etiquette: Party Time Greeting + Thanking
- Modern Manners + Etiquette: Sex Etiquette
- Modern Manners: Texting at the Table