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Newport Manners + Etiquette: Who Pays For the Drinks + More

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


When going out for cocktails, who should be picking up the tab, and should the favor be returned? Photo: mountainhiker/flickr.

Who pays for drinks, how long to wait for a late client or friend and how to handle a chronic interrupter, were all questions at Didi Lorillard's NewportManners.com this week, along with wearing a classy black cotton dress in October.

Dear Didi,
How do I deal with an employee who constantly interrupts? He interrupts in staff meetings, he interrupts during one-on-one conversations with me and with his coworkers.  D.B.,  Providence

Dear D.B.,
Often there is something else going on that is causing the chronic interrupter's problem. Sadly, there are those who cannot hold back and wait their turn. Since this man is your employee you can experiment with how to handle the problem. Does the employee have a negative attitude? Or is he just a showoff needy for attention? Be gentle, but be direct. Don't be timid about saying, "Please, don't interrupt me." Or, "Please, wait for your coworker to make her point, then it will be your turn." When he finally lets you finish what you have to say without butting in, thank him for not interrupting. It will take patience, but a 'please' and a 'thank you' work.  ~ Didi

Dear Didi,
Two weeks ago I invited a business colleague for drinks. He offered to pay when the bill came, but I reminded him that I had invited him. We talked about getting together again the following week and he said maybe, but I still haven't heard from him. Isn't it his turn to call me to ask me for drinks?  A.H., Seekonk, MA

Dear A.H.,
The person who does the inviting pays the bill. If you had said, "Do you want to meet for drinks?" you wouldn't have been offering to pay for him but merely asking him if he wanted to meet you for a drink. But you invited him and you paid. Therefore, there is no reason why you can't call him for a follow-up conversation. By saying something such as, "I just want to reiterate that we are actively looking for business," or, "May I send you our prospectus?" you are asking for another meeting. My point is this, don't stand on false ceremony. Call him up, don't wait for him to call you. Ask him if he needs more information sent to him. Ask him a question because if it goes to voicemail, he'll have to answer it by returning your call. If he doesn't return your call, then he's not interested. Maybe usually means no.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
How do I get it across to clients and friends that I don't have time to sit around waiting for them to show up for a meeting or even just for lunch? By the time they arrive I'm seething with anger and want to tell them 'time is money.' But of course that would sound crass.  C.W.

Dear C.W., 
Gently remind the tardy client or friend by reiterating time and again that you have a busy schedule. Suggest that they call you on your cellphone if they are, say, running late or stuck in traffic and to tell you what time they expect to arrive. Give them fifteen minutes of grace before phoning them to ask if they've forgotten your lunch date or meeting and ask whether they want to reschedule.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
Can I wear a dressy black cotton dress for dinner in Oct. at a resort in Virginia?  Delila, South Dartmouth, MA

Dear Delila,
Classy is a big word with not that many letters. Black is always chic. There is nothing wrong with cotton. A cotton black dress is perfectly acceptable. What's important here about wearing a dress to a dinner at a Virginia resort is the quality of the design and the fit of the dress. If the dress wears you, it's no good. If the dress is tailored to flatter your figure, then wear it.  ~Didi

Didi Lorillard researches shifting etiquette at NewportManners.com by answering questions on relationship dilemmas, wedding etiquette, business etiquette, entertaining, dress codes and manners. Or find Didi on Facebook,TwitterLinkedIn, or Pinterest after reading her earlier GoLocalProv.com columns, some of which are listed below.


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