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Modern Manners + Etiquette: Graduation Gifts & Office Romance

Thursday, June 07, 2012


Her husband's assistant has invited them to her son's graduation. It's awkward at best. Should she go?

Spring not only brings debates and dilemmas about the etiquette of graduation gift registries and parties but tricky situations when it comes to a suspected office romance and questions about how to handle rude coworkers at Didi Lorillard's NewportManners.com.

Dear Didi,
I have a dilemma, which may or may not be trivial. My husband's assistant at work has invited us to her son's graduation party. I feel very uncomfortable about going because of a previous incident last fall during a company picnic. She needed a ride so we picked her up and took her to the picnic where she was supposed to meet up with her relatives. But when we got there she didn't join them or the other employees. She stayed with us from start to finish. My husband then seemed to pay too much attention to her and was kind of "chummy" toward her, which caused an argument between us. His coworkers were even teasing me saying that I had to be careful because "those two" are always together and have become quite "close." It was the first time I had met his coworkers. My husband and I are very happy together now. Do I attend her son's graduation party with my husband or let him go alone? What should I do?  Joy, Los Angeles, CA

Dear Joy,
I understand your dilemma and I don't think you should let your husband attend the graduation party of his assistant's son by himself. Show her that you and your husband are close. Go to the party and pay a lot of attention to your husband so that she can see you as a couple, something she doesn't see at work. Get it into her head that you two are a tight couple and are happily married. She needs to see the chemistry between you to understand that he is committed to your marriage. At the party, be overly affectionate with him. Hold his hand. Nuzzle him. Give him a gentle kiss on the cheek, be flirtatious and playful with him. She'll come to realize that he really isn't available because he is crazy in love with you. ~Didi

Dear Didi,
How would you handle a rude coworker?  G.H., Peacedale

Dear G.H.,
I try to ignore bad behavior. One never wants to be accused of being argumentative. I would go up the ladder, take the high road, and turn the other cheek. After all, we all have our bad days when nothing goes our way, which is why it is best to give a rude person the benefit of the doubt.

On the other hand, if I were to be accused of doing something unfairly, I would speak up and explain my side of the story. In a workplace situation, it is always best not to let coworkers hear you arguing. Say, "Let's grab a cup of coffee after work and discuss this on our own time."

When the person isn't amenable to taking it out of the workplace, then I would say, "There is no reason to be rude, what's your problem?" Turning his rudeness into a question makes the rude person stop and think. Usually, they just walk off in a pout. ~Didi

Dear Didi,
Is it okay to put gift registry information on a graduation announcement? We're having a big debate about whether we would appear greedy by such a listing. We want to do the right thing for our son.  R.S., Tiverton

Dear R.S.,
Registries have a broader connotation these days. Think of a registry as a wish list, merely a helpful list of suggestions. We all lead very busy lives and the convenience of being able to log into a registry to send a gift is a time saver. Also, keep in mind, that when one doesn't attend the graduation party, or a similar celebration, one is not expected to send a gift. A gift registry is a convenient modern device for those attending to show their appreciation for having been invited. Yes, registries are an efficient way to handle gift giving for both the honoree and the guest. ~Didi

Dear Didi,
My sister-in-law and my family are not close. We normally give her kids Christmas gifts, but she doesn't reciprocate with our kids. She is throwing a party combining three events for her daughters: two birthdays and a graduation party. Three parties will be costly for us. What would be the best thing to get them? Plus, is it proper for them even to throw all three parties together? J.D., Cranston

Dear J.D.,
Your extended family is doing the best they can to celebrate the accomplishments of all their children. In support of them and to sustain the relationships with your children and theirs, take the intellectual highway by giving them gift cards of equal amounts for the bookstore closest to their house. By doing that, you are promoting their having a bright and enlightened future. If your family gives each relative a $25 gift card, it will be greatly appreciated. About your last question, as parents we do the very best we can do for our children, trying to treat them all equally.  ~Didi

Didi Lorillard researches the gentle shifts in etiquette at NewportManners.com with the help of viewers like you. Or you can find Didi on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest, after you've read her prior columns on GoLocalWorcester.com, some of which are listed below.



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