Modern Manners + Etiquette: Texting Versus Voicemail + More

Wednesday, August 01, 2012


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How many voicemails does it take to get through to someone? The answer may lie in texting. Photo: Zawezome/flickr.

Etiquette issues about voicemail vs. texting, the pros + cons of Save-the-Date cards, Entrepreneur Etiquette, and minding manners when young adults borrow a friend's apartment were asked about at Didi Lorillard's this week.

Dear Didi,
I don't know if the lazy days of summer are the reason why coworkers and others are slacking off, or if it's me that's doing something wrong. Nobody answers voicemails. It's frustrating because I don't know if they listened to my message. Whether it's work related or family matters, how do I get people to return my call?  J.B., Oxford, MA

Dear J.B.,
You have my sympathy. Nowadays, if you want to communicate with someone, you'll have to text. At least at first, to see if you get the green light for a phone call or if the matter can be solved texting.  Nobody wants to listen to seventeen - let alone answer - that many voicemails. Text when it's important and they'll be more apt to get back to you.  ~Didi


Dear Didi,
Since we sent our wedding save-the-date card, one of our good friends told us he can't attend because he's in a golf tournament that weekend. We're upset and not just because he's not coming. His wife insists on coming to our wedding solo. We really don't want her to attend without him. Mostly we don't like her attitude, however, we're also annoyed that he would rather play golf than come to our wedding. We're about to mail our wedding invitations and we don't know the etiquette for not sending an invitation when we know one of the married couple cannot come. Do we still have to send them a wedding invitation just because they got our wedding save-the-date card?  A.F., Marblehead, MA

Dear A.F.,
This kind of wedding invitation dilemma comes up a lot thanks—but no thanks—to the save-the-date card. Make a decision that it is your wedding and you are only inviting people that you want to be there. Try this. Don't send them a wedding invitation. When she calls to complain that she hasn't received her invitation yet, say, "It must be an oversight." Yes, ours! If she doesn't get the hint and insists on coming, then you'll have to verbally invite her and put up with her attitude. If she's at all socially savvy, she'll get it.   ~Didi

Dear Didi,
My son is spending the month of August in NYC interviewing for jobs having just graduated from college. My best childhood friend offered him her apartment while she and her husband are away. My son is a great guy, but he's clueless when it comes to keeping house. I can't be there to ride him about keeping their apartment tidy let alone clean. I don't want to lose a good friend over my son's slovenliness and I'm torn between telling him he can't stay there. I'm looking for a solution.  N.E., Cambridge, MA

Dear N.E.,
Phone your friend and thank her for her kindness and generosity toward your son and ask her if she knows of a house cleaner. Get her name and number and find out what she charges per hour. If your friend has a house cleaner in place, offer to pay her or offer to have your son pay her. Better yet, have your son call her. Make it a stipulation with your son that since he's staying in an apartment for free, he has to pay the house cleaner to at the very least clean just before he leaves. The last week he's there talk to the house cleaner to make sure he cleared out the refrigerator, cleaned the stove, toaster oven, and bathrooms and to make sure the house is in good order before your friend returns. The trick is not to enable your son too much, while making him aware of his responsibility to your friend. Just as there's no free lunch, there's no such thing as a totally free apartment for a month.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
I find business dinners difficult and tedious. As a young entrepreneur, how do I get through a dinner without making a fool of myself? C.S., Providence

Dear C.S.,
An etiquette list for entrepreneurs would include the following:  Most important, stay off your smartphone or any device. You're an impressive entrepreneur and you don't need to be smug or haughty about it by letting everyone hear how many calls are coming in or texts that warrant a rapid response. Be with who you're with at the moment. Assume that everyone is as busy as you.

Make it all about them; be interested in what they're doing instead of talking about yourself. Being humble is always the way to go. Only talk about your business when someone asks a specific question. Don't preach, teach, lecture or give advice, what worked for you in a particular situation might not work for them, so don't say, "You should do this, you should do that;" instead say, "This is how I handled a similar situation." It's OK to make recommendations, just don't be a bossy pants. ~Didi

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



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