Newport Manners & Etiquette: How To Ask For A Raise & Money Owed & Therapy Ethics

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


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The etiquette of seeing two therapists, how to politely ask for money owed and asking for a raise, and helping a shy friend with social skills were all questions to Didi Lorillard this week at NewportManners.

How to ask for a well-deserved raise

Q. How do I go about asking for a pay raise without ticking off my employer? Talking about money makes me intensely uncomfortable. Growing up talking about money was a conversational mind field worse than talking about sex, politics or religion. We would rather talk about the weather. Now I have a family of my own and I need to be paid what my time is worth. How do I bring up the subject with my boss?  Polly, Boston


A.  A recent British study sited in Linda Babcock's new book, WOMEN DON'T ASK, reports that 56% of male graduates negotiated their starting salary, compared with 7% of women. From the start women probably earn approximately $5,000 less than their male colleagues who do the exact same job.

Don't let a lack of transparency about salaries continue the ongoing gap between what men and women earn. Practice talking about money. We should take a tip from the Chinese who say that "a conversation without talking about money is like eating rice without salt." Become more comfortable about making money part of your everyday banter.

When you know you should be making more money, here are tips to consider when going for a raise.

  • 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.


It goes without saying that you should prepare by making sure that you fully understand the power of persuasion and the pitch process. 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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The etiquette of having two different therapists

Q. 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 which I prefer. So I go once a week to both and discuss the same issues. One therapist is straight and intellectual. The other is a gay man like myself and consequently we have similar lifestyles. I feel that these two 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?  Name Withheld


A. Wouldn't you benefit doubly if you gave therapist one permission to contact therapist two? Shouldn't the two therapists be communicating information that they've gathered to assure the best treatment in working toward your well-being? 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. Why not bring the question you posed to me up to each of them before giving both each other's name and contact information.


Shy about making small talk or polite conversation

Q. My 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 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 making polite conversation?  RW, Charleston, NC


A.  Social skills (often called soft skills) are learned early on and reflect the culture from where she lived as a youth. Because she sounds very smart, sit her down and have a grown up discussion with her. "We've notice you're tentative in public when we take you out and we thought we should talk about ways to make it easier for you to feel more comfortable at social events. Would you be interested to hear what we have to say?"

  • Ahead of time 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?
  • Never be afraid of sounding boring.
  • 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 signals that you're bored with what the person is saying.
  • It is better to escape than stay in a boring conversation, by saying, that you're going off to get something to dink (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."


You want to be sure she knows how to introduce herself, and that she knows to introduce herself by her first and last name. If she has a nick name, she can keep the conversation going by saying, "But everyone calls me Nicki." If need be, role play some of these scenarios with her.

  • It's polite to always introduce yourself even if there is one person who knows you in a group. 
  • 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 neighbor on her right and left for equal amounts of time, but she would never fully turni her back to either of them. The cue to turn to talk to the other person would be with the change of courses.


Discussing these social graces with your Tibetan guest should help her feel less self-conscious about whether she is doing the right or the wrong thing. You would be giving her a pattern to follow.

Being reliable, punctual, and considerate about acknowledging the presence of others are keys to social success, as our verbal greetings and introductions, and standing up when someone enters the room.


Asking to be paid for a summer job

Q.  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


A.  Have your daughter type out a bill and send it to them. It may be that both parents thought the other had paid her. Since it doesn't sound as though your daughter was on a salary, she'll have to go back over her calendar and figure out how many hours a day she spent taking care of the two children. Then she'll have to decide what to charge, which could be anywhere from $12 to $18 an hour. It could 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. Mail the bill to the parents with a sweet note saying something to the effect that she is submitting her hours for taking care of John and Mary from the start date ______ through the last day ______. Make sure she says, Please send me a check for $ ____ made out to ________ and send it to the following address _________________.

It may well be that an accountant pays the bills. Your daughter was probably given spending money out of the household petty cash. 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.

Didi Lorillard researches manners and etiquette at NewportManners for her forthcoming book.


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