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Modern Manners + Etiquette: Coworker Crushes + Mothers-In-Law

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Whether you're handling the prospect of an office romance or not sure you want to accept an apology, relationships are the topic du jour at Newport Manners.com.

Springtime crushes in the workplace are going viral, reasons for apology etiquette are sound at Didi Lorillard's NewportManners.com. What's the etiquette for getting your daughter-in-law to communicate with you?

Dear Didi,
Do you have to accept an apology?  T.G., Westport, MA

Dear T.G.,
When the person uses an apology as a guileful way to criticize you or to justify their mistake by saying, "I'm sorry but you...", then don't bother accepting their meaningless apology. The sincerity of a apology is of utmost importance. If you feel the intention is genuine, say, "Apology accepted." For an apology to be effective, it must be clear that the person is accepting full responsibility for their action. If you don't feel the apology is heartfelt, then say, "I'm not quite ready to accept your apology."

When someone violates our trust and then fails to apologize, we feel hurt about the violation and the fact that they haven't apologized. When we're too concerned about not having gotten the apology we needed, then we tend to dramatize how badly the omission makes us feel. Even when someone apologizes, we're still left feeling angry that the trust was broken. An apology does not take away the pain. There are two options. Either you obsess on the mistake or slight, or work with the person on solidifying a trusting relationship. Being given an apology alone isn't going to heal the wound. When you think about it, on both sides, you probably don't want to base your relationship on whether the other person apologized for doing something he or she did wrong or whether they did or didn't accept your apology.

Acceptance of an apology should never be forced. When empathy and honesty are present apologies can be very powerful. When empathy and honesty aren't present, an apology adds to the hurt and distrust.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
A boss, (male) and his subordinate (woman), both married, become friends. Is it proper for him to kiss her on the lips for a greeting at party's or other events? My coworker and I disagree with what is proper.  Name and location withheld

Dear Anonymous,
What the boss and his subordinate do is none of your business. Don't talk maliciously about your boss because it can come tittle-tattling back to haunt you. ~Didi

Dear Didi,
I am totally attracted to a woman coworker and don't know what to do. Our conversations have always been on a professional level and I don't know if she's interested in me. Other women coworkers pay attention to me and we go out after work in a group for drinks and casual dinners, but she's the one who turns me on to the point of distraction, if you know what I mean. I don't want to be rejected if I make a move, so how can I find out if she would be up to exploring the possibility of going out with me?  J.S., Providence

Dear J.S.,
Choose one of the women you go out with after work, preferably one who thinks you're terrific, to act as unwitting emissary. Say something such as, "Just between you and me, I need to figure out if one of our coworkers might be interested in going out with me." Tell her you're not even sure if you really like her in that way but she turns you on to the extent that it gets embarrassing being around her in the office. So you need to find out one way or the other. That will cover you if it turns out she isn't attracted to you. Then just wait; by word of mouth such titillating gossip will get around quickly and the woman you are interested in will either become friendlier or more distant. By the way, why on earth do you want to become involved in an office romance? ~Didi

Dear Didi,
My daughter-in-law said she would call me and never did! What should I do? My daughter-in-law never calls me.  B.G., Portsmouth

Dear B.G.,
Not to sound insensitive but you sound like a middle-schooler complaining about the Mean Girls. Don't act too nice or worried that a disagreement could make your relationship with your son and daughter-in-law fall apart. Which it won't, if you don't assume your daughter-in-law wants advice or help with disciplining children or doing housework. You'll only be perceived as being critical.

You are different generations. You communicate differently. She texts and emails those close to her. Unless you get on her wave length, you aren't going to get closer. Try sending occasional brief emails. No more than one question per email. Thank her when she responds. That's the best you can do. Persevere. Eventually you'll both learn to appreciate each other's bloodlines and family traditions. Problems with in-laws fester when there are unspoken, conflicting expectations and assumptions.  ~Didi

Didi Lorillard is still a Mean Girl. On her etiquette Web site NewportManners.com, Didi also tracks shifting trends in manners, relationships, dress codes and wedding etiquette. You can follow Didi on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest, after you've read her prior GoLocal columns, some of which are listed below.



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