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Modern Manners + Etiquette: Political Arguments at Work + More

Thursday, October 11, 2012


It's election season, and things are heating up at the office over politics. How should one handle such disagreements during this volatile time?

How do you control heated political arguments in the workplace? What to do when you received a save-the-date card but not the wedding invitation. Do you pay for uninvited guests at a restaurant? Do I fill the wineglass full or half full when the boss comes to dinner? All timely questions at Didi Lorillard's NewportManners.com this week.

Dear Didi,
My old friend sent us a save-the-date card stating the wedding invitation would follow for her youngest daughter's wedding. The wedding came and went and we never received the invitation. We attended their two other children's weddings. Should I have said something to my good friend? Will she think I'm rude for not replying? Did our invitation get lost in the mail? Now I'm uncomfortable when I see her.  K.M., Burlington, VT

Dear K.M.,
Weddings come and go preceded by too much to-do. Details become overwhelming. Please don't feel slighted or forgotten and give the mother-of-the-bride the benefit of the doubt. It's like setting out on a family outing and noticing one of your children isn't in the car. By now your old friend realizes she hasn't been a good friend because you aren't in any of the wedding photos. Best to let it go. If you had been sent an invitation, the mother-of-the bride would have called when she was figuring out the seating to find out why you hadn't replied. We're all honored to be invited to a wedding and disappointed when we're overlooked.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
How do we control heated political arguments in the office?  L.S., Charlotte, VA

Dear L.S.,
Since the 2008 election, more and more companies have included restrictions on political and religious discussions under 'ethics policies' when updating their employee guidelines handbook. A 2012 Career Builder survey found 23 percent of employees had at one time engaged in a heated political discussion in the workplace. When a coworker tries to goad you into a debate, politely say, "I'll take it under consideration," and walk on by.  What you say off the clock is your business. No matter how passionate an employee feels about the candidates and the issues, they should remember to check their emotions at the door before entering the workplace.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
My wife and I invited another couple for dinner in an upscale restaurant as a payback for having entertained us in their home for dinner. The couple arrived at the restaurant with family members in tow whom we didn't even know: their daughter, son-in-law and toddler. The dinner was a disaster. When the bill arrived, the couple didn't offer to split it, so I paid it. Don't you think the couple should have offered to pay for their daughter and her family?  H.W., Providence

Dear H.W.,
Your intentions were honorable and sincere. It was disingenuous of the couple to blindside you.  In a perfect world, they should have called to ask if their daughter, her husband, and toddler could dine with you as well as offer to pay the added expense. At that point, you could have switched to a family-style restaurant such as a pizzeria or rescheduled your dinner date, by saying, "Lilly and I wanted to take you to our favorite restaurant for dinner. Unfortunately, it doesn't accommodate small children, so can we take a rain check? How about the 19th, same place, same time, I'll make a reservation for four." In retrospect, when a restaurant bill is likely to end up costing three digits, the host should call the guest the morning of, or day before, to confirm time, place, and that there are just the four of you dining.  ~Didi

Dear Didi,
Wine etiquette in a nutshell? Boss coming to dinner. Full glass or half? In TV ads they always have the glass filled to the top, but my mom says half full.  Lucy, Beverly, MA

Dear Lucy,
Pour the wine to just under halfway up the bowl of the wineglass. You want to give the wine—red  especially—room to breathe. Pouring a house wine to the top is usually done in busy, popular restaurants by servers looking for a good tip (and you can't blame them). Hold your wineglass by the stem, that's what it's for. Holding the bowl of the wineglass with the palm of your hand warms the glass and therefoe the wine. For a toast, raise your wineglass but don't clink it. If the boss toasts the hostess, you, then wait until everyone's finished toasting before taking a sip. You shouldn't raise your wineglass to toast yourself.  ~Didi

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


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