Monday, December 29, 2008

Handling Sticky Situations

Remember how much you hated it when Aunt Myrtle kissed you? It doesn’t hurt to let your child know that you hated it, too, but that you put up with it. Tell your youngster that the best strategy in handling this situation is simply to try to avoid it by sticking out his hand to shake. If that doesn’t work, he can turn his head a little at the last moment so that the kiss becomes a brush on the cheek. This motion is also a way of communicating the fact that he doesn’t like being kissed. But, no matter what, relatives are going to kiss kids, and it is uncool to refuse or to squirm around like an angry eel.
Also, it’s okay for your child to tell you that Aunt Myrtle’s gift is silly or ugly, but Aunt Myrtle must never know. Your response is that not everyone shares the same tastes and that the important thing is that Aunt Myrtle likes you and respects you enough to give you a gift. Explain to your child that he should, at the least, thank Aunt Myrtle and say, “It was really nice of you to think of me.” If pressed, the child can say, “Of course, I like it. You gave it to me.”
On the subject of gifts, keep in mind that youngsters are often discriminated against in stores. Teach your children to speak up for themselves in the right way. If they can see that they are being passed over in favor of adults, it is okay for them to politely say, “Excuse me, I think I’m next in line.” If they are being ignored when no other customers are around, youngsters can say: “Could you please help me?” Teach your child to ask for assistance, rather than to try to get someone’s attention by coughing, for example.
If your child asks you whether it is okay to ask an adult to stop smoking, say, “It depends.” You can’t ask someone to stop smoking in someone’s home or in other private places where smoking is permitted. Tip: If ashtrays are available, smoking is expected and permitted. You can ask someone not to smoke in public places where smoking is prohibited, but you must do so correctly. Here again, coughing is not an adequate way to let people know that smoke bothers you. Tell your child to say, “Would you please stop smoking?”
but don’t make a challenge or an accusation out of it. A good strategy is to tell the child to imagine that he or she is saying something like “It’s raining outside” and say, “Would you please stop smoking?” with the same facial and vocal expression.

Relations with Adults

Kids and adults sometimes think of each other as alien species. This situation is tougher on kids than it is on adults because adults are bigger and know more. Both, however, tend to be a little uncomfortable when they meet for the first time. Adults may deal with this discomfort by saying dumb things like “Last time I saw you, you were wearing diapers.” Children sometimes deal with it by sulking or being silent or trying to be invisible.
This awkwardness is generally called shyness, and almost all children are afflicted with it to some degree. You can help alleviate this painful stage by passing along some of the following tips. However, your child or any young person will be on the way to overcoming the curse of shyness if you can get these two basic ideas across:
  • Everybody, regardless of age, is shy to some degree around new people or in unfamiliar surroundings.
  • Stop worrying about yourself and focus on the other people.
Here are my own helpful tips and tricks for young people:

Meeting someone new.
When young people meet someone new, they should ➤ Stand up.
  • Shake hands. In the Western world, shaking is an almost-universal gesture of goodwill.
  • Smile.
  • Look the other person in the eye and say hello. Use Mr., Miss, or Mrs.
When in doubt, use Ms. (pronounced “mizz”).

Breaking the ice.
Teach your child to use the following questions to easily open a conversation with someone:
  • Do you live in the neighborhood?
  • Do you have children?
  • How did you meet my parents?

Conversational tricks.
Young people need to know some of the conversational tricks we all use without thinking. Let them know some of the basics:
  • People like to talk about themselves.
  • People don’t mind questions, as long as the questions are not too personal (How much money do you make?) or downright rude (Why do you wear that ugly dress?).
  • Many personal questions are okay to ask: Do you have any children? Do you live around here? Did I see you out running in the park the other day?
  • Teach your youngster to become aware of the details that can spark a conversation. Remember that the idea behind all of this is not necessarily just to get your child to talk but to also get the other person talking.
  • If you notice skis or roller blades lying around, for example, ask about these sports. If you just finished reading a book, ask the other person if he, too, has read it. Talk about the latest flick you’ve seen or one you’d both like to see.
  • Listen carefully to the other person and don’t interrupt the speaker unless something important has come up that he or she should know. Then say, “excuse me.”
  • The truth is that when people say so-and-so is a good conversationalist, they really mean the person is a good listener.

Relations with Adults

Kids and adults sometimes think of each other as alien species. This situation is tougher on kids than it is on adults because adults are bigger and know more. Both, however, tend to be a little uncomfortable when they meet for the first time. Adults may deal with this discomfort by saying dumb things like “Last time I saw you, you were wearing diapers.” Children sometimes deal with it by sulking or being silent or trying to be invisible.
This awkwardness is generally called shyness, and almost all children are afflicted with it to some degree. You can help alleviate this painful stage by passing along some of the following tips. However, your child or any young person will be on the way to overcoming the curse of shyness if you can get these two basic ideas across:
  • Everybody, regardless of age, is shy to some degree around new people or in unfamiliar surroundings.
  • Stop worrying about yourself and focus on the other people.
Here are my own helpful tips and tricks for young people:

Meeting someone new.
When young people meet someone new, they should ➤ Stand up.
  • Shake hands. In the Western world, shaking is an almost-universal gesture of goodwill.
  • Smile.
  • Look the other person in the eye and say hello. Use Mr., Miss, or Mrs.
When in doubt, use Ms. (pronounced “mizz”).

Breaking the ice.
Teach your child to use the following questions to easily open a conversation with someone:
  • Do you live in the neighborhood?
  • Do you have children?
  • How did you meet my parents?

Conversational tricks.
Young people need to know some of the conversational tricks we all use without thinking. Let them know some of the basics:
  • People like to talk about themselves.
  • People don’t mind questions, as long as the questions are not too personal (How much money do you make?) or downright rude (Why do you wear that ugly dress?).
  • Many personal questions are okay to ask: Do you have any children? Do you live around here? Did I see you out running in the park the other day?
  • Teach your youngster to become aware of the details that can spark a conversation. Remember that the idea behind all of this is not necessarily just to get your child to talk but to also get the other person talking.
  • If you notice skis or roller blades lying around, for example, ask about these sports. If you just finished reading a book, ask the other person if he, too, has read it. Talk about the latest flick you’ve seen or one you’d both like to see.
  • Listen carefully to the other person and don’t interrupt the speaker unless something important has come up that he or she should know. Then say, “excuse me.”
  • The truth is that when people say so-and-so is a good conversationalist, they really mean the person is a good listener.

Speaking of Respect

Remember that you’re not dealing with a lower life form here. Children possess a basic, uncluttered wisdom. We cheat them by failing to share our losses and insecurities, our joys and triumphs. When you discover a commonality with your child, try saying something like “I know. I feel the same way when ….” Children’s questions may be blunt and basic, but often they want to know the same things as adults do. For example, a child may say, “Suppose I don’t know anybody at the party. Who do I sit with? What do I talk about?” You know how that feels, don’t you? But you might express it to another adult by saying, “Do you have any hints on how to work a room?”
Keep this point in mind the next time your child asks you a question.

The Most Basic Rules of Home Manners and Why

One of the most asked questions about etiquette is, “Why do we have these rules and what wise guy made them up?”
You can respond to this question by telling a story:
About 11,000 years ago, humans made a big change in the way they lived. They found they did not have to continually roam through the forest hunting animals and gathering nuts and berries to eat. Instead, humans learned about planting seeds and domesticating animals. They discovered that they could live in one place, and survival was not such a desperate daily struggle. They had more food, more leisure time, and a greater sense of security.
Soon after, humans began to develop ways of getting along with each other with as little fighting, anger, and confusion as possible. They even began to eat together at the communal table, and you can imagine what this would have been like without rules.
During the 11,000 years between then and now, the rules changed and evolved as ways of living and relating developed. But the reasons for these rules are as valid now as they were at the beginning.
Young people like things summarized. So you can tell them that two basic guidelines have held up through the centuries and form a dual bedrock of good manners:
  • Be kind.
  • Treat people with respect.
The second most asked question is, “What’s in it for me?” You can answer this question by telling your child: “Learning the rules of etiquette will give you self-confidence. If you know how to behave wherever you are, you will be more at ease, and you will be able to put those around you at ease. People will get the message that you are one together person.”
You can go on to say that another reason to know the rules of etiquette is that people will treat you with respect if you treat them with respect.

Manners at Home

“Why do I have to learn this etiquette stuff?”
“Because I say so.”
This time-honored bit of logical persuasion, like its colleague “siddown and shut up,” may end an argument, but does not create a wonderful learning environment. “When I was your age …” is not much better. (These tactics also weaken your position when you tell youngsters that the best way to make their point is to not yell or interrupt or make faces, but to listen to what the other person has to say before stating their ideas or point of view.)
The unspoken but mutually agreed-upon code of conduct that is the glue of a civil society is so much a part of our daily adult experience that we may have forgotten that we had to learn it, that children have to learn it, and that we have to teach them. No matter how cute their capers around the house might seem when they are very young, there will come a time—sooner than you may expect—when others will judge children harshly and, possibly, criticize them sternly for the sort of behavior parents may be inclined to overlook or dismiss as high spirits or “growing pains.” Thus, etiquette training begins at a very early age. We are teaching as we interact with children around the dinner table or in the playground. While we teach the rules, we also teach the reasons behind the rules, and what we’re actually teaching is respect for others.
When you begin to teach children about the idea of manners and the rules of etiquette, you can expect to be challenged. The challenge will almost certainly take the form of questions, and you had better be armed with some answers.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

How to Address Religious Leaders?

The pope of the Roman Catholic Church is addressed as His Holiness, the Pope, or as
His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican City, 00187 Rome, Italy.
A cardinal is addressed as His Eminence, John Cardinal Krol, Archbishop of Philadelphia.
A bishop or archbishop is addressed as The Most Reverend Thomas Jones, Bishop of Dallas.
A monsignor is addressed as The Right Reverend. A priest is addressed as The Reverend Father, a nun as Sister Mary Catharine, and a brother as Brother Thomas Mann. A member of the Protestant clergy is addressed as The Reverend Thomas Jones, with the letters D.D. after the name if the person has a doctor of divinity degree. An Episcopal bishop is addressed as The Right Reverend. The words The Venerable precede the name of an archdeacon.
A Jewish rabbi is addressed as Rabbi Thomas Wise, with degree initials following the name. A cantor is addressed as Cantor Thomas Wise.
The patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox religion is addressed as His Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Istanbul, Turkey. In this religion an archbishop is The Most Reverend, a bishop is The Right Reverend, and a priest is The Very Reverend. The rules and customs for addressing people and for extending and acknowledging invitations are not new. They have evolved over many generations and have come into existence for very good reasons. All of us care about how we are addressed, and part of having good manners is caring enough to address others properly.

Other Addressing Etiquette

Unmarried Couples
Address the envelope to a couple living together but not married with each name on a separate line, flush left, alphabetically, with no and between the names.

Children and Teens
Girls are Miss from birth until 21, when they may wish to be become Ms. However, girls’ envelopes are generally addressed by name only until they become teenagers, when Miss is used more often.
Boys are correctly (but not necessarily) addressed as Master until age eight, when that term is dropped in favor of the given name and no title. He becomes Mr. at age 18.

Abbreviated from the French for Misters (Messieurs), Messrs. applies only to brothers, not to other male family members like uncles or fathers. If the envelope is going to all of the brothers in the family, it is addressed to The Messrs. Smith. If it is going to two of the three brothers in the family, for example, it is addressed to The Messrs. Lawrence and David Smith. The same rule applies to Misses.

Originally, Esquire was the title applied to a knight’s eldest son or to the younger male members of a noble house whose hereditary title was borne only by the eldest male heir.
The title is seldom used today and only if the person being addressed is a lawyer, male or female. It follows the person’s name and is usually abbreviated as Esq. It can also be written out in full in the address. Do not use a prefix (Mr., Mrs., and so forth) when Esq. is being used after the name. When writing to a lawyer and spouse, drop the Esq. and address the letter to Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.

Addressing Officials
The proper forms for addressing various officials follow. The honorifics, Mrs. or Ms., may be substituted for Mr. where appropriate. If the official is a woman, give her husband’s full name: Elizabeth Smith and Mr. Harold Smith. If the wife of the official uses her maiden name, use that instead of Mrs. Smith.

Etiquette in Addressing Doctors

When both halves of a couple are medical doctors, the envelope can be addressed as
The Doctors Peterson
Doctor (Dr.) Judith Peterson
and Doctor (Dr.) Michael Peterson
Doctors Judith and Michael Peterson
If Judith goes by her maiden name, the correct form is
Dr. Judith Holmes and Dr. Michael Peterson
If only the husband is a doctor:
Dr. and Mrs. Michael Peterson
Dr. Michael Peterson and Ms. Judith Holmes
The name with the title goes first. So, if Judith is the doctor:
Dr. Judith Holmes and Mr. Michael Peterson

Etiquette in Addressing Envelopes

Here are some do’s and don’ts on addressing envelopes:
  • Type or write by hand all social envelopes. It’s okay to address an envelope by hand when the letter is typed. Neatness counts, however. ➤ Keep the lines aligned on the left or indent each line slightly more than the previous one. City, state, and ZIP code are on a single line.
  • It is no longer necessary to write out the names of states in full. And the practice of writing out numbers in full in the most formal situations has virtually disappeared. People use numerals rather than risk trying the patience of the Postal Service.
  • Middle names are not always written out on formal envelopes. For example, if Michael Jack Schmidt uses Michael J. Schmidt, follow his lead.
  • The return addresses may appear on the envelope flap, but it is more convenient all around, particularly for the Postal Service, if the return address is on the front of the envelope.
Here’s how to address an envelope to a married couple when the wife uses her maiden name:
Ms. Margaret Ferguson
and Mr. Horace Fitzhugh

Yes, the woman’s name goes first. Writing out the and indicates that the recipients are married. However, if the husband has a professional title, his name goes first:
The Reverend Horace Fitzhugh
and Ms. Margaret Ferguson

If Margaret uses her maiden name professionally but not socially, the correct address is Mr. and Mrs. Horace Fitzhugh or The Reverend and Mrs. Horace Fitzhugh. If Horace is deceased, do not address the envelope to Mrs. Margaret Fitzhugh because that would indicate she is divorced. Widows keep their husband’s first and last names. If Margaret’s son is a Jr., she may add Sr. to her name to avoid confusion. If Margaret is divorced, address it to Mrs. Margaret Fitzhugh unless she has resumed her maiden name. Then it’s Ms. (not Miss) Margaret Ferguson. A separated woman may continue to use her husband’s name until she is divorced. Don’t address letters to a single mother with Miss. It is inaccurate and may cause embarrassment.

Signatures Etiquette

A married woman should sign legal documents and checks with her given name plus her married name—Mary Fleischmann. If she has a common name such as Jane Smith, she might want to distinguish her signature by using her maiden name as well. A single Jane Smith might want to use a middle initial. When writing to a person you know very well, sign using your first name only. Never give yourself a title when signing your name. Thus, if writing to someone not on a first-name basis, Mrs. Daniel Fleischmann goes in parentheses under the Mary Fleischmann signature. If Mrs. Daniel Fleischmann is printed at the top of the stationery, simply sign Mary Fleischmann at the bottom.
A single woman may write in parentheses (Miss) or (Ms.) to the left of her name. A professional woman who uses her husband’s name socially and professionally wants to make it clear that she is married. She signs business letters with (Mrs. John) Alana Kelty. In social correspondence, she proceeds as described in the previous paragraph.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Etiquette on Addressing Women

Ms. is the correct form of address in the business arena, and it is widely accepted in the social arena as well. Its use, however, is sometimes confused. A divorced woman who goes by her married name would use Ms. because Miss is reserved for a woman who has never married. Thus, when Mary Mitchell marries Dan Fleischmann, she becomes Ms. Mary Mitchell (which is also fine if she is single) or Mrs. Daniel Fleischmann. She does not use Mrs. Mary Fleischmann.
Other rules for addressing women include
  • Married. A married woman who keeps her maiden name may be known professionally as, for example, Mary Mitchell and socially as Mrs. Daniel Fleischmann. When a married woman hyphenates her name, a practice that appears to be waning in popularity, the maiden name comes before the hyphen and the married name after.
  • Widows. A woman using her husband’s name does not change her name when her husband dies.
  • Divorced. When a woman does not drop her married name entirely, she uses her given name in place of her former husband’s given name. If she is known professionally by her former husband’s name, she can continue to use it even if she remarries. When a woman resumes her maiden name, she becomes Ms. Mary Mitchell, dropping her former Mrs. and never using Miss, which denotes a woman who has never been married.
  • Separated. A woman who is legally separated continues to use her husband’s name—given and surname—until she is divorced. A separated woman may use her given name if she chooses.
  • Single mothers. Using Ms. makes more sense than using Miss (although it is technically correct) or Mrs., which designates someone who is legally married. Ms. can refer to either married or single women.

Etiquette on Addressing People

Before dealing with addressing envelopes, let’s talk about addressing people. The name game can be confusing—who’s a Ms., how to hyphenate, Misses, Messrs., and so forth.
Remember that information about forms of address and titles is merely what has been the custom and what most people have accepted. These titles and forms of address, however, are no more correct than any you may decide upon for yourself. You can use this information as a starting point, but you will ultimately make up your own mind about what titles and forms of address are most appropriate for you and for those with whom you’re corresponding.

Informal Invitations Etiquette

Written on personal notepaper or on an informal or correspondence card, informal invitations are nonetheless written in the third person but are less structured in form than truly formal invitations.
Informal invitations come in various forms. For instance, you can send a fill-in invitation that you buy in a card shop. You can write on informal notepaper or on a folded note with a monogram. On a note with a monogram, start writing on the front if the monogram is placed to one side; start inside, under the fold if the monogram is in the middle.
You can reply by phone if the invitation includes a telephone number. Otherwise, respond on your own stationery—either plain, informals, or correspondence cards. If the invitation says “Regrets Only,” you need not respond if you can attend.
However, it’s still a good idea to let the host know you’re planning to attend.

Regrets Etiquette

When you decline an invitation, briefly state the reason for the refusal in your reply. Two standard reasons to refuse an invitation are a previous engagement and absence from town. Don’t give illness as the reason because that is a signal to the host to inquire about your health. If you know the host, call to explain your regrets more fully. Otherwise, a detailed explanation is unnecessary and “regrets she is unable to accept” will suffice.

Invitation Replying Etiquette

First, let’s have a look at some suggestions that apply to the entire invitation scene. My mother would rather a rattlesnake bite her than include a reply card in an invitation, but that’s another generation. These days, the RSVP card is a fixture in most social situations. It evolved because so many people stopped replying formally and in writing to invitations without them.
The practical host must decide whether or not to use the reply cards, and either decision is acceptable. However, experience shows that it is far less stressful to use them than to mount a telephone campaign before the event to find out how many people are coming.
Reply cards follow the same style as the invitation and are made of the same stock. If you do not enclose a reply card with your invitation and you need to know who’s coming, be sure to mark the invitation RSVP and provide an address or a telephone number.
When responding to a formal invitation that does not contain a reply card, follow the same general form as the invitation. Write by hand and in the third person. Use conservative stationery or engraved personal stationery. You can use a personal letter sheet, a half sheet, or an informal. Couples responding should use a Mr. and Mrs. informal.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Coat of Arms Etiquette

It all started with knights wearing special colors and insignia into battle and in tournaments so that they would be recognized and would get full credit for their heroic deeds. These devices were called coats of arms because they were embroidered on sleeveless jackets worn over their armor. Heralds organized the tournaments and kept records of the various colors and insignia of the participants—thus the term heraldry. Direct male descendants who bear the family name inherit the family coat of arms. In the case of no sons, daughters inherit the coat of arms and become heiresses or coheiresses with their sisters until they marry. When a woman whose family has inherited a coat of arms marries a man who has none, she does not use her coat of arms after her marriage.
By the fifteenth century, so many social climbers had assumed a coat of arms for their families—even though many of them were not entitled—that the College of Arms was legally chartered in 1484 to regulate heraldry, and it continues to do so today. In America the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston will rule on a family’s claim to “bear arms.” However, the society does not grant the right to bear arms. You inherit your coat of arms on an individual basis. You can’t buy it, no matter how pretty it is.
Following are several uses of the crest and the coat of arms. The crest is a part of the full coat of arms.
  • The crest can be engraved or embossed on invitations and announcements if the father’s family has the coat of arms and if his name appears on the invitation. ➤ The crest can be embossed or engraved on place cards and menu cards for a formal dinner.
  • The full coat of arms or just the crest and motto can be engraved on large pieces of silver and embossed or engraved on stationery.
  • The coat of arms can be painted (blazoned) and framed and hung on the wall for decoration.
  • A woman may use her father’s or husband’s coat of arms in a diamond-shaped lozenge, the feminine version of the shield. She may use a crest on personal possessions, such as writing paper, linens, and dressing-table accessories.
Again, when a woman whose family has a coat of arms marries a man who has none, she does not use the coat of arms after her marriage. As you consider which style, color, and types of stationery to invest in, remember the factors that transcend these details. The stationery you choose is part of the message you will be sending and should reflect your personality.

Calling Cards for Couples

When a couple uses a joint calling card, the home address is optional. The card is written as Mr. and Mrs. with the husband’s full name. Abbreviations are used only when necessitated by constrictions of length. In this case options include leaving out a middle name, using an initial, or abbreviating a title such as Rev. for The Reverend. If both are doctors, you can use The Doctors Peterson, Doctors Judith Peterson and Michael Peterson, or Dr. Judith Holmes and Dr. Michael Peterson. In the last instance, Dr. is used because of length. If only the husband is a doctor, it’s Doctor and Mrs. Michael Peterson. If only the wife is a doctor, it’s Doctor Judith Peterson (or Holmes) and Mr. Michael Peterson.

Calling Cards for Women

Here are some important details concerning women’s calling cards:
  • A married woman’s name appears exactly as her husband’s except for the honorific. Example: Mrs. John Montgomery Silcox or Mrs. John Silcox.
  • A female doctor who uses her maiden name would use Doctor Lillian Mitchell. If she uses her husband’s name, the card should read Doctor Lillian Gates, Doctor Lillian Mitchell Gates, or Mrs. Theodore Gates. ➤ Divorced women use either Mrs. Marie Webb, Mrs. Marie Mitchell Webb, or Marie Mitchell Webb. Divorced women with children keep their former husband’s name to be consistent with their children’s.
  • A divorced woman without children can resume her maiden name. In that case her card would read Marie Mitchell. No honorifics here. She is no longer a Mrs., and Miss is only for women who have never been married. Ms. is not used on a calling card: The term has not been in use long enough to be considered traditional by old-line engravers, particularly because the term itself came into existence as a designation for a woman in business.
  • Widows do not change their calling cards when they continue to use their husbands’ names.
  • Single women may use their full names with or without the Miss.

Calling Cards for Men

The following are some important details concerning men’s calling cards:
  • The man’s name is printed in full except for Mr. Spell out The Reverend, Doctor, Captain, and so on. If length is a problem, a man may decide to omit his middle name or abbreviate his title.
  • A lawyer’s card reads John Silcox, Esquire, or Mr. John Silcox.
  • A doctor’s calling card reads Doctor John Silcox, and his professional card should read John Silcox, M.D.
  • A comma always precedes Jr. or Sr. No comma is used before II, III, and so on.
  • Don’t use the letters of your academic degrees on your calling card, no matter how proud you are of them. Letters of an honorary degree are never used.

Calling Cards Etiquette

The tradition of calling on friends and acquaintances as a formal social ritual is pretty much nonexistent today. It enjoyed its heyday before World War I, when the woman of the household did the visiting. If the person being called upon was out, the caller left her husband’s calling card and her own on a silver tray in the foyer of the home. Husbands went along only when the visit was to offer condolences; visit the sick; or congratulate a birth, a major birthday, career triumph, and so on. The use of calling cards declined as women became major contributors to the workforce and had less time to go visiting. Economic factors also contributed. Calling cards are expensive. They must be engraved, which is a luxury. Also, the Postal Service will no longer deliver this size envelope, which severely limits the usefulness of the calling card as an invitation.
Eventually, they began to be used primarily as gift enclosures, although most people these days use informal notes for that because they provide more writing space. However, if your budget permits, nothing is more elegant than receiving a gift with a calling card enclosed.
Always engrave calling cards in black ink with a simple typeface. White or off-white are the correct colors. The cards are engraved with either your name or your name and address. Generally, no abbreviations are used. If the address is printed on the card, it goes in the lower-right corner. You may also write your address and telephone number on the card. Do so in ink, but not with a ballpoint pen, which insults the elegance of the card.
If you write a message on the card (Have a wonderful 50th!), it should be simply written on the face of the card. This rule also applies when using the calling card as a gift enclosure. If the card is a gift enclosure, draw a single line through your name and then write your name (Affectionately, Mary). Make sure you write the receiver’s name and address on the front of the envelope if it’s a gift so that it doesn’t get separated by mistake before delivery. Do not seal the envelope. Calling cards are gender specific. Generally, a woman’s card is more square than a man’s. A man’s card is longer than a woman’s.
Correct approximate sizes:
  • Men, regardless of marital status: 33/8 by 11/2 inches high or 31/2 by 2 inches high.
  • Single women: 27/8 by 2 inches high.
  • Married women: 31/8 by 21/4 inches high.
  • Married couple: 33/8 by 21/2 inches high.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Half Sheets, Folded Notes and Monarch Sheets Etiquette

Half Sheets
Size: 53/4 by 73/4 inches high to 61/4 by 81/2 inches high. A half sheet is a single sheet in any color. Use it for writing letters. If you are engraving it, the monogram or crest, or name and address, is centered at the top. You will need plain second sheets if you write long letters. The second sheets can be used interchangeably with the letter sheets for most correspondence, although the letter sheet is more formal and traditional. Pale colors are fine, although you should not use anything other than white or off-white to send a condolence letter or to extend or reply to a formal invitation.

Folded Notes
Size: 51/4 by 31/2 inches high.
Folded notes look just like informals but may be in pastel colors. The front page is blank or engraved with a centered monogram or with the monogram in the upperleft corner. Folded notes are great for general correspondence, especially thank-you notes.

Monarch Sheets
Size: 71/4 by 101/2 inches high.
Both men and women use monarch sheets for general correspondence and informal business letters.

Message Cards and Correspondence Cards Etiquette

Message Cards
Size: 5 by 31/2 inches high.
A message card is a single white card with a very smooth (satin) finish. It can have a woman’s full name or a couple’s name engraved at the top center of the card. The street address can be in the upper-right corner. You can use these for thank-you notes or other kinds of notes and for extending or replying to an informal invitation.

Correspondence Cards
Size: 61/2 by 41/4 inches high.
The correspondence card is a most useful investment for both men and women, especially in the corporate arena. The single card can be colored and sometimes has a colored border. The card can also be plain or engraved with a monogram, the name alone, or the name with address. The correspondence card is used for any kind of short note, sending or replying to invitations, thank-yous, and so on. Men find these particularly useful and often have only this one stationery item for personal use. The correspondence card is probably the single most used item of stationery in a businessperson’s arsenal.

Letter Sheet and Informals Etiquette

Letter Sheet
Size: 51/4 by 71/4 inches high.
The letter sheet is a formal stationery style. It can be used for extending and replying to informal invitations or for replying to formal invitations. (You may not want to use a letter sheet that is engraved informally with the address only to extend an invitation.) This stationery should be of white or off-white stock. The sheet comes folded vertically with the crease on the left. You can engrave it with a crest, monogram, name only, or address only—although it doesn’t have to be engraved at all.

Size: 5 by 31/2 inches wide.
In spite of its name, the informal is a pretty formal piece of stationery. Men use informals only when they are engraved with a couple’s name on the front. Informals can also be engraved with a woman’s full name. They are appropriate for writing notes, gift enclosures, extending and replying to informal invitations, and replying to formal invitations.

Monograms Etiquette

Monograms continue to be popular. They should appear either centered at the top of the page, centered on the front of the folded note, or in the upper-left corner. A single-initialed piece of stationery leaves too many questions in the readers’ minds. Stationery stores sell preprinted notes with single initials, but these seem to me to be useless and silly.
If you choose to monogram your stationery, it is best to use three initials, unless they happen to spell something graceless. Alice Stanton Smith, for example, would be better off using just two initials.
The most common styles for monograms are either three initials set in consecutive order or the initial of the last name in a larger size in the middle of the other two. A single woman or a married woman who retains her maiden name uses the initials of her first, middle, and last names. A married woman who uses her husband’s name uses the initials of her first name, her maiden name, and her husband’s last name.
Always write out the names of your city and state in full with no abbreviations. Numerals for street numbers are fine. Spelling out numbers greater than 10 is generally unwieldy and pretentious.
Printed or engraved envelopes generally carry the address in the upper-left corner, and it is perfectly fine to use your printing or engraving plate with your name from your stationery for this, rather than have a new one made. If you print or engrave the envelopes, omit the name from the return address. You rarely have to pay more to leave off a line of type from a plate, as opposed to making a new plate, which is expensive.

Women and Stationery Etiquette

There was a time when every well-bred woman used only fold-over notes, rather than flat stationery. Today, women are free to select stationery that complements their handwriting, style, and taste. For example, I know several women who choose large letter-size paper for casual notes because it accommodates their large-script flair. However, unless you have a wardrobe of personal stationery, it’s a good idea to avoid wild ink colors in favor of more conservative colors such as black or gray, which are appropriate in all situations.

With personalized stationery a woman has the option of using her social title. Thus a married woman might use Mrs. Daniel Fleischmann or the more contemporary Ms. Mary Fleischmann. It is unnecessary and perhaps a bit pretentious for single women to give themselves the title of Miss, although it is not incorrect. The name itself does just fine.
Printing notepaper with your address only is probably more practical if you use different names or titles, for example, your maiden name in business and your married name socially.

Personal Stationery Etiquette

Your personal stationery is as important and as noticed as any clothing accessory—for example, a wristwatch. Most people should own three kinds of personal stationery: formal writing paper (which can be engraved or plain), personal business stationery, and personal notepaper. Household informal stationery is an additional option. You use formal writing paper for writing condolence letters and responding to formal invitations. Do not substitute informal writing paper when formal writing paper is called for.

Personal business stationery is used for matters relating to your career or home life, such as applying for a job or letting the store know that your drapes have not arrived. Use personal notepaper for writing informal invitations and replies, friendly correspondence, thank-you letters—basically for all informal social correspondence. Stationery stores call this kind of item informals. They are generally folded and about 5 by 7 inches in size. The most widely used colors for notepaper are white and offwhite. Folded notes, which are available in pale pink and other pastel colors, are slightly less formal than informals.

If you print household informal stationery, you might choose to include your telephone number for convenience. This fairly impersonal type of stationery is used for notes to vendors, the post office, electric company, and so on. You don’t need to use custom-printed or engraved stationery. Any good stationery store, department store, or jeweler who provides engraving services will also carry plain stationery. Personalizing it is a nice and useful luxury, however. Make sure your stationery meets U.S. postal regulations—that is, envelopes must be at least 31/2 by 5 inches. The Postal Service still allows envelopes with the return address printed on the back, which is a formal social custom. As a general rule, however, printing the return address on the front of the envelope is much more practical if the letter has to be returned to the sender. It is good manners to heed the Postal Service request to put the return address on the front of the envelope for everything but the most formal invitations.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Printing and Etiquette

The kind of printing you use is another important factor in the overall quality of your stationery. Engraving is the highest quality printing. The words and symbols to be printed are cut (preferably by hand) onto a metal plate and then transferred to the paper. You can tell real engraving by its slightly raised, embossed quality and by turning the paper over to see whether the reverse of the printing is slightly indented. The indentation is the result of the force of the engraving plate as it is applied to the paper. Engraving is the most costly means of printing.
Although other options are, mercifully, available, none makes the quality statement that engraving does. (A client once told me that he retained my company’s services because, all other factors being equal, our engraved stationery projected depth and quality.) Raised lettering, or thermography, imitates the look of engraving, but cannot approach the quality. You can identify thermography by how easily the printing flakes off when you scratch it with your fingernail. It is the pretender to engraving, and personally, I think you should decide either to engrave or not. Stationery, like people, ought not to pretend to be something that it isn’t.
Most printing involves a process known as offset lithography. It is the least expensive method but, with good design, can achieve a high-quality image.

Paper Etiquette

People judge paper by its texture and weight, both reflections of the material from which it is made. The best stationery is made from new unlaundered and undyed cotton rags. Cheaper papers are made from vegetable fibers, sometimes combined with wood pulp. The higher the rag content, the better the paper. Rag content is usually noted on the package.
Watermarks reveal the quality of stationery. A watermark is the manufacturer’s identification, which can be seen when the paper is held up to the light. A genuine watermark looks slightly blurred. There are imitation watermarks, but they look artificial in their sharpness.

Stationery Etiquette

Just as we judge others more by what we see than by the words they speak, we also make judgments based on the appearance of the correspondence we receive. A single sentence letter can speak volumes about the person sending it, which can be an advantage or a disadvantage.
People are far less restricted and rigid about their correspondence these days than in the past, especially when it comes to correspondence mediums. Computer programs for word processing and graphics provide more resources for expressing personal style and creativity than anyone ever dreamed of in the past. Hence the strict formulas for correspondence have been stretched to reflect the times. It is still valuable to know and to understand the process for taking pen to paper and what’s what when it comes to stationery. Your personal choice of fuchsia paper with hot-pink type might be great for a missive to your former roommate. It would be the kiss of death, however, if used to apply for a job with a conservative law firm. As with any issue involving personal presence, grooming is more important than a fashion statement. If the engraved letterhead isn’t even close to your sense of self or concept of reality, then clean paper, crisply folded with its written components done perfectly, will speak better in your favor than costly stationery, carelessly used.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Internet Etiquette

Interaction on the Internet is more pleasant and more effective if people observe a
few simple rules.
Lurk before your leap. If you come across a mailing list or chat room dealing with, say, your favorite author, you may want to jump in with news about the author’s latest blog or latest love affair. If you lurk for a while, you may find that the topic has been talked to death for the last three weeks and what you wanted to say has been said 30 times.
Don’t go up in flames. Flaming is sending vulgar or insulting messages to someone you think has made a mistake, revealed ignorance, or expressed an opinion you find distasteful. A response that is pointed, well reasoned, and brief is much more powerful than an emotional tirade.
Don’t create or forward spam. Spam is junk mail or inappropriate messages—everything from advertisements to pyramid schemes. Delete any spam that you receive and never forward it. You can buy software to filter out stuff from known spammers.
Be security conscious. Never reveal your password and never look over the shoulders of others while they are logging on. They might think you want to steal their password. Don’t use an obvious password, such as your name spelled backward or the name of your dog.
The most secure password is a combination of numbers and letters. If you think you might forget your password—and you might—write it down and stash it in a safe place.

E-mail and Netiquette

The ease of e-mail makes it ideal for casual correspondence, but it should be seen as a supplement to, and not a replacement for, other types of correspondence. Some situations
demand a formal letter, a telephone call, or a handwritten note.
The rules of grammar and usage are not suspended for e-mail. Exotic punctuation, such as dashes, slashes, and dots, makes the copy hard to read and gives it a juvenile look, like signing a letter with Xs and Os. If your system has a spell checker, use it, no matter how good a speller you think you are.
Picturing your correspondence printed out and tacked to a bulletin board will help control the temptation to use e-mail gimmicks. Always use the subject line to let the reader know what the message is about. Tabs and centered or justified text can be lost in transmission. Type single-spaced with a blank line between paragraphs. Using all lowercase makes the message look trivial. All uppercase is equivalent to shouting.
If you want to forward a message, check first with the original author of the message. You also should get permission before passing around another person’s e-mail address; in addition, tell people where you got their address when you are sending them e-mail for the first time.
When sending e-mail internationally, keep the language formal. Casual language, slang, or jokes can confuse and/or annoy someone from another culture.

How to Unblock in a Letter?

“I never know what to say.”
Even people who use this excuse for not writing a letter or note know that it is lame.
What they mean is, “I don’t know how to approach this thing—how to get started.”
Every writer knows that the best way to beat writer’s block is to write. Get the words,
even the wrong words, flowing, and the right words will come along. So, when you
decide to write a note, begin with scrap paper. Write a draft or two before you get out
the good notepaper.
Even in our age of technological marvels, written correspondence retains a certain
power and charm that cellular phones, fax machines, and e-mail can’t replace. A carefully
prepared, thoughtfully written letter on nice stationery is a treasure—something
to be put away and saved, to be enjoyed over and over. It’s a gift that enriches both
the sender and the receiver.

Monday, September 8, 2008

How to Write Letter Closings?

A closing to your note should reflect the nature of your relationship with the recipient. A flat yours truly will disappoint and perhaps offend a close friend. Leave the L word alone unless the recipient is a very close friend. Here are some closings listed in a more or less declining order of intimacy.
All my love Affectionately
Best love Warmly
Much love Best regards
Love Regards
Fondly Or just sign the thing

The following type of letter would receive love as a closing:

Dear Sandy:
You know me so well! I’m dashing through my living room in another headlong rush to another boring meeting, and I see your flowers and remember your admonition, “Take time to smell the flowers.” So, I am taking time—time to write this note and time to smell the flowers. They smell wonderful. They smell like friendship.

How to Insert Quotes?

“No wise man ever wished to be younger.”
Jonathan Swift

Sometimes a quote sends just the right message. Every library has books of quotations. A paperback book of quotes for your library is a good investment even if it comes to your rescue only once.
You can even use a tired old saw such as “You inherit your family but you choose your friends.” But you have to follow up with something like “With you in my family, I feel as if I am an heir to a fortune.” Or “I am so glad you chose me to be a friend.”

How to Write Letter Openers?

You can always use these perennial openers:
  • What a … can be followed by great trip, nifty surprise, grand occasion, or excellent gift. Another similar beginning is That was a ….
  • I was thinking (or remembering) ….
  • I can’t tell you how much ….
You can probably come up with a few perennials of your own. When you find a good one, write it down for future use. But remember that perennials wear easily and should be used sparingly.

How to Write Notes?

Sometimes you have a great thought about a certain person or situation that you
want to share. Of course, you can always place a phone call, but you know what usually happens. You have an idea of what you want to say, not the exact words, but an idea. You may hesitate. The other person says something. The mood shifts. The moment is gone.
On paper you can say exactly what you want to say, and you can take your time in
finding the very words that you know will please the object of your thoughts, affection,
A note can work the magic. It doesn’t have to be long (Wish I was there—with you).
It doesn’t have to be poetic (I wish you chicken soup). It doesn’t have to be particularly
clever (It was great to see you last week. Happily, you haven’t changed a bit).
While drafting your note, think about these points:
  • The recipient. Is it an intimate friend, someone you feel affection for, a person you know and like and would like to know better, someone you know only slightly? A personal reference to that individual or to your relationship separates your note from the anonymous platitudes on printed greeting cards.
  • The occasion. A birthday is not the same as a confirmation or bar mitzvah. Are you sharing someone’s joy, offering condolences, helping to mark a milestone in life?
  • The root message. When you know what you want to say, you can find pleasing or proper ways of delivering the message. Some root messages are …
I love you.
I miss you.
Thank you.
Sorry you’re sick.

When writing a note on an informal note card, don’t write anything on the front if it
has a monogram in the center of the page. Short notes go inside under the fold. If the
note is longer, lay the paper out flat, start the note at the top of the page, and continue
onto the bottom half of the back page. Sometimes you cannot write on the back of
the monogram or engraving because of the indentation.

How to Write Complaint Letters?

One situation in which a face-to-face conversation is preferable to a letter is when you have a complaint about the behavior of a neighbor or friend. Keep things as pleasant and nonconfrontational as possible.
However, a letter to a retailer, business, or government agency is sometimes necessary.
Keep your letter as unemotional as possible and state the facts emphatically.
Keep a copy of the letter and follow up within a week with a telephone call.

To Whom It May Concern:
On May 1, 1996, I purchased a Populux 5000 dishwasher from your firm, and it was installed at my home a week later. I have had trouble with it ever since.
First, there was a leak under my sink. Your repairman came four days after I reported the leak and left without fixing it, saying he did not have a certain part with him. When he did not return within three days, I called to complain. Two days after that, he returned.
He worked for more than two hours in my kitchen. When he left, the leak was fixed, but the dishwasher did not work at all. I called again, and another repairman came three days after the call. He said the problem was with the wiring in my kitchen and that I should call an electrician. I did. The electrician said the wiring is fine and charged me $45. I have now had this dishwasher for one month and have yet to wash a single dish in it. Because your people apparently are unable to repair this machine, you should replace it or refund my purchase price. Please contact me as soon as possible concerning this matter.
Paula Smith

Monday, August 25, 2008

How to Write Letters to Politicians and Other Power Brokers?

Letters to people in power do have an effect. Ask any politician. These letters should be
  • Concise. Put the heart of your message at the very beginning of the letter.
  • Unemotional. Don’t carp or bluster. State your position and the reasons for it with as little emotion as possible.
  • Identifiable. Say whom you represent. You may be speaking for a group or organization, or you may be writing as a father, businessman, or just concerned citizen.
Dear Senator Fulton:
I am writing to oppose the proposal to drain the wetlands in the Westphalia section of your district. As you know, wetlands are a critical part of the ecosystem in that area. Draining would not only damage the environment there, but would bring in the sort of development that would put great strain on the area. I am writing as a resident of Westphalia, as well as someone concerned about the dangerous erosion of the environment through overdevelopment.
I hope you will vote no on SB 188 when it comes before your committee.
Yours truly,
Elizabeth Gordon

You can be even more terse when writing to the White House. The president almost certainly will not see your letter. However, staff people keep a careful tab on how many people are writing with opinions on each issue, and these tabulations are passed along to the president.

Dear Mr. President:
I strongly oppose the idea of sending American troops to Bolivia. In fact, I oppose military intervention in the affairs of any nation in the Americas.
Robert Anderson

Writing Dear John Letter

The overriding objective in this case is to end a romantic relationship with as little pain to the other person as possible.
  • You have to start with a straightforward statement giving the reason for the letter.
  • Apologize and offer an explanation that does not blame the other person, something—if possible—that is beyond the control of either of you.
  • If there is blame involved, blame yourself.
  • Don’t lie.
  • Don’t leave the door open—not even by a crack.

Dear Robert:
After a lot of thought and soul searching, I have come to the realization that it is time to bring our relationship to an end. Our personalities, interests, and backgrounds are so different that conflicts and unhappiness are inevitable for both of us. I am firmly convinced that I will never be the sort of woman who would fit into your world. I am sure that you will come to realize that as well. I recognize that the reason for this is a lack of flexibility on my part, but I can’t seem to help it.
I think we should make a clean break and not try to contact each other again. I wish you nothing but success and happiness.

How to Write Apology Letters?

If you’ve offended someone and are sorry about it, the best thing to do is apologize in person and follow up with a letter. In any case the letter must say clearly and humbly that you are sorry. If there is some way in which you can make amends, promise to do so.

Dear Mrs. Fitzhugh:
Please accept my sincere apology for having failed to attend your dinner party after assuring you that I would be there. I know how the unexpected absence of a guest can upset the plans of a hostess and am deeply sorry for any distress I may have caused. My guilt is even greater because I do not have the excuse of a family emergency or other crisis. I simply got the date wrong, and forgot to check to make sure.
Once again, I most humbly apologize and hope that you will forgive my carelessness.

How to Write Congratulation Letters?

The congratulation letter is one of the easiest and happiest of letters to write. It is also the sort of letter that a family may keep for years.

Dear Mark:

Congratulations on receiving the fellowship and study grant from Princeton. It is not only a tribute to your brilliance and hard work, but it will give you the opportunity to explore some of the avenues of investigation we have been talking about so wistfully. All of us here at the lab share the joy of this moment with you. We will miss you during the term of your studies and look forward to welcoming you back.

With best wishes,


Writing Condolence Letters

A letter of condolence should do three things:
  1. Acknowledge what a terrible loss the death is for the bereaved and that you sympathize with his or her suffering to some degree
  2. Convey a sincere desire to help in some way during this time of grief
  3. Praise the accomplishments, character, and devotion of the deceased Remember that many people may read this letter, and it may be saved as part of the family archives. Therefore, although it will be personal, the style should be at least somewhat formal.

In a condolence letter, avoid stressing how much you feel bereaved. The purpose of the letter is to comfort others, not to have them feel sorry for you. Writing after you have heard some bad news about a friend or acquaintance is a different matter. In this letter, you want to convey not only support but also a bit of optimism.

Dear Mrs. Thompson:
Please accept my deepest sympathy on the terrible loss of your fine husband, George, even though I know no words of mine can ease your grief.
I met George on my first day of work at MicroTech, and I will never forget his kindness to me, a confused newcomer. He helped me to get settled and to understand how things worked there—all out of the goodness of his heart. George had that rare combination of kindness, good humor, and competence.
I think you know that we live just a few blocks away, and if there is anything I or my family can do to help during the days ahead, we would consider it a privilege if you would call upon us.

Dear Margaret:
We just heard that Tom was among those laid off at MicroTech. I know it must be a shock for you and your family. Joe and I will be home all weekend in case you and Tom want to stop by for a drink or dinner or just to chat.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Thank-You Letters

These notes can be boring—boring to write, boring to read: “Thank you for the present. It was nice of you to think of me.” To avoid this sort of letter, you can follow my foolproof, three-step formula:
  1. Be sure to thank the person for the specific gift and mention the gift by name.
  2. Acknowledge the effort and energy the giver put into selecting, purchasing, or making the gift.
  3. Let the giver know how you have used or will use the gift. When thanking someone for a gift of money, don’t mention the amount in your letter of thanks. A reference to “your generous gift” will suffice.
When you refuse a gift, a letter, or at least a note, is required. It should say that you don’t feel you can accept the gift (perhaps in the case of a woman receiving expensive jewelry from a male acquaintance) but that you appreciate the thought.
Dear Helen:
Tom and I and the two girls want to thank you very much for the handsome Deluxe Edition Monopoly game you gave the family. I happen to know that you can’t get this beautifully produced version of the game at most stores, and you must have had to do some shopping around to find it. The four of us spent last night playing the game. (Tammy won.) Your gift has made this familiar game very special for us.

Letters and Children

It’s never too early for children to learn the importance of writing letters. Even before children can write, you can let them know that you’re writing to Aunt Margaret to thank her for the dollhouse she sent them. Remember that a thank-you letter from a first grader does not have to be spelled correctly or look just right. Just don’t let your child get away with sending a preprinted thank-you card without adding a personal message.

Perfecting Letter Grammar

A letter on the best stationery, properly organized and beautifully presented, can be utterly ruined by one grammatical error. These errors can also have a nasty effect upon your reputation. Grammatical traps like to lurk in lengthy sentences. Brief, direct sentences are generally safer and have the added merit of being easier on the reader.
Here’s a reference list of some of the most common grammatical errors:
  • Between you and I. When you and I follows a preposition—such as between, to, or for—it becomes you and me.
  • Avoid the phrase I, myself. In fact, use myself only for emphasis.
  • Fewer refers to items, things you can count. Less refers to quantities such as water, effort, and time. (Yes, those supermarket signs that read “12 items or less” are ungrammatical.) Similarly, farther refers to actual distance, as in a mile farther, whereas further indicates an extension, as in further discussion.
  • Don’t use irregardless when you mean regardless. Irregardless is not a word.
  • Avoid writing that you feel badly. It means you aren’t very good at feeling things, in a tactile sense.
  • Capitol is the building. Capital is everything else.
  • The speaker implies; the listener infers.
  • Make sure that nouns and verbs agree; for example, a group of employees is (not are) arriving.
Needless to say, there’s a lot more to grammar than just the information contained in these tips. If you’re unsure of a rule, take the time to look it up or ask someone who knows.

Letter Do’s and Don’ts

Over the years certain customs dealing with how the elements of a letter should be organized on the page have evolved and have been pretty much universally accepted. Knowing how the skeleton of a letter should look allows you to concentrate on the essential message you want to convey. Accordingly, here are some general rules for writing business or social letters:
  • If your address is not printed at the top of the page, write it in the upper-right corner. (Don’t bother if the person you’re writing to knows perfectly well where you live.)
  • The date goes under the address at the upper-right or at the bottom-left corner. Write out the month in more formal letters or if you think the letter might be preserved for posterity.
  • The salutation goes flush left.
  • Leave a space, indent, and begin the body of the letter.
The complimentary close goes to the right, and it can take many forms:
  • Love is a wonderful thing and you can use it to close a letter if you’re writing to a family member or close friend. You can also use fondly and affectionately.
  • If you don’t know the person very well, try closing with as ever or as always or all best wishes. A stalwart standby is sincerely, and you can soften it by putting very or yours in front.
  • Cordially is considered to be out-of-date, but I like it and still use it because it is correct and, I think, warm.
  • Gratefully is great for letters of thanks.
  • Respectfully and respectfully yours are reserved for the clergy.

123 Margo St.
Hartford, CT 93433
Aug. 11, 2008

Dear Mr. Petersen:
Thank you so much for your letter of August 9. It certainly brought good news. We have had no difficulty organizing the workers according to your instructions, and I am certain you will be pleased with operations when you arrive for your inspection tour in January.

Horace Grant

  • Fold letter sheets vertically with the fold on the left, somewhat like a handwritten brochure. Start writing on page 1 and go to page 3 if the letter runs to a second page. Go with the usual sequence (1,2,3,4) if the letter requires all four pages. Number the pages as you write.
  • Dear Madam and Dear Sirs are outdated if you are writing to a store, for example. It is better to use To whom it may concern if you are writing to an unknown person.
  • If you fold a letter twice, fold the bottom third first and then the top third. The letter should be inserted into the envelope so that when it is removed and unfolded, it is ready to be read—right side up and facing the reader. A letter that is folded only once doesn’t require special treatment. Leave letters unsealed if they are to be hand delivered unless they are of a highly personal nature.
Postcards are useful for sending out notices of meetings or confirming appointments. They can be used as thank-you notes for casual parties, but never for dinner, gifts, or for being a houseguest.

The Proper Letter Format

Some people have trouble starting a letter but, once started, can continue comfortably. It’s a good idea to mentally go over the main things you want to say before starting. You can begin with a bit of good news:
“You will be glad to hear that ….” You can describe what you have been doing that day or depict the room in which you are writing. You can also refer to the most recent correspondence or the last time you met the person to whom you are writing. Don’t open a letter by apologizing for not writing sooner. You can say something like “You may have thought I’d forgotten all about you, but really, you have been in my thoughts often lately. It’s just that there’s been a lot going on. For instance ….” Letters, by their nature, convey news. Therefore, in the body of the letter, talk about what has been happening to you and to those you both know. Talk about shared interests. Keep the tone conversational and let it flow.
End formal letters with a sincerely and progress toward familiarity with yours truly, regards, best wishes, affectionately, love, and so on. The most informal and affectionate letters may end with miss you or write soon or more later.

Arranging Personal Letters

Simplicity and clarity lend grace to what we call plain language. The thoughts and ideas that touch another person most profoundly should not be hidden by or entangled in convoluted phrases and unfamiliar words.
The best letters reflect the personality of the writer. In a way, the letter is a gift of that personality to the reader. This idea is reflected in a letter cited for its virtues in Etiquette Letter Writer, published by J. P. Lippincott and Co., Philadelphia, 1875.
To her I very much respect—Mrs. Margaret Clark—Lovely, and oh! that I could write loving, Mrs. Margaret Clark; I pray you let affection excuse presumption.
Having been so happy as to enjoy the sight of your sweet countenance and comely body sometimes, when I had occasion to buy treacle or liquorish [sic] powder at the apothecary’s shop. I am so enamored with you, that I can no more keep close my flaming desire to become your servant. And I am the more bold now to write to your sweet self, because I am now my own man and may match where I please; for my father is taken away, and now I am come into my living.
If you think well of this notion I shall wait upon you as soon as my new clothes is made and hay harvest is in. Your loving servant till death.

Mr. Gabriel Bullock

The virtues of this letter include
  • Mr. Bullock’s intentions and his reason for writing are made plain. There is nothing ambiguous about his feeling for the comely Mrs. Clark.
  • He makes his situation clear. He is obviously a man of substance presenting an honorable proposal.
  • He does not discuss the weather, his health problems, or nasty local gossip. Keep these qualities in mind the next time you write a personal letter to someone.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Business Cards Etiquette

Because the kinds of meetings discussed in this chapter are often occasions for handing around business cards, this is a good place to discuss them. Your business card is an important and personal part of your communications within the corporate culture, and you should know how and when to use it.
Business cards have three main uses:
  • They provide vital information about you—your name, your company, your title, and how you can be reached.
  • They can be clipped to a document, a photograph, a magazine, or anything you’re sending to someone who might find the information useful, letting the recipient know that you’re the sender and providing your contact information.
  • They can be used as enclosures in gifts or with flowers.
How and when to present your card:
  • Present your card with the type side up. When someone hands you a card, look at the person to connect card with face.
  • Don’t appear anxious to thrust your card on a senior executive. Wait until asked.
  • Be selective. If you are with a large group of people, don’t give your card to everyone. Doing so is pushy and creates the impression that you’re trying to sell something.
  • Some people give their business card to anyone they meet. Not a good idea. On the one hand, it’s irritating. On the other, you may regret supplying a stranger with your name and business address.
  • Be unobtrusive about giving someone your card at a social function. Think of this action as a private exchange between two individuals.
  • If your cards are soiled, damaged, or out-of-date, get new cards. It’s better to give no card than to give one that looks bad.
  • You never know when someone is going to ask for your business card, so carry a few with you at social as well as business functions. If you don’t have a card, apologize and write out the information on a piece of paper.
  • Whether you are dining at Joe’s Chili Joint or at a black-tie dinner, business cards should not surface during a meal. If asked, pass one as discreetly as possible. In fact, if the event has been billed as a social rather than business-related affair, you should be discreet about talking business at all. All business meetings—regardless of location (boardroom or dining room) and participants (your colleagues, your boss, or your employees)—require preparation, a healthy helping of respect for all present, and a knowledge of the basics of meeting etiquette.

Leaving a Business Meal

Escort your guests to the door. Shake hands and thank them for coming. Remind them about the next meeting, or if one has not yet been scheduled, say you will call them within a week. (And make sure that you do call within that time frame.) The guest should thank the host, praise the restaurant, and within two days, send a handwritten note. If your penmanship truly resembles Chinese algebra, you may type the note, but a handwritten note is infinitely more desirable. Under no circumstance should you fax or e-mail your thanks.

Paying Up the Business Meal

Settle the bill quietly with a credit card or with a large bill if you are paying cash. Don’t fiddle around with small bills or change.
It’s fine to review the bill for accuracy. You should have a fair idea of what the total should be before it arrives. In any case, don’t study the thing like the Dead Sea Scrolls. If you notice a discrepancy, deal with it after your guests leave. But please, no calculators at the table.
Nothing damages the effect of a smooth business meal as much as haggling over who should pay. Unfortunately, this situation is more apt to happen if the host is a woman and the guest is a man. If the subject arises, depersonalize it: “I invited you, and besides, XYZ company would like to take you to lunch.”
Another tactic that is especially helpful is to arrange beforehand for a credit card imprint and for the addition of 18 to 20 percent for tip. This strategy avoids the presentation of a check at the table. Before you leave the table, collect the checkroom tickets from your guests so that you can tip the attendant—at the rate of $1 per garment—on the way out.

Finishing Touches in Business Meal

Encourage your guests to have dessert when the server returns to the table from clearing the entrees. If they do, you do. If they don’t, you don’t—no matter how much you have been looking forward to that chocolate torte. Ask your guests if they would like coffee or tea. When it is served, ask for the check. Use this time to review your mealtime discussion: Make sure you understand whatever agreements have been reached and the follow-up steps you’ve decided upon.

Control and Damage Control During Business Meal

The host’s responsibility is to pay attention to the quality of the service and the food. Make sure your guests are served properly and have whatever condiments they might need.
If it looks like something is wrong, ask your guest. If it is, call the maître d’ and have the item replaced. If things are going badly, keep your cool. Do not engage in a confrontation with the server or the maître d’. Tell your guest: “I’m so sorry. The restaurant seems to be having a bad day.” Then deal with the manager later.