Real and Simple No. 1: Answers to Your Most Basic Etiquette Questions

Category: General Etiquette

Oprah may have her list of favorite things, but I have my list of “most asked” etiquette questions. If you want to be in the know, or simply want to know the right thing to say or do in different situations, life just got that much easier.

• If I am at at a private home and I break something, should I offer to replace it? Accidents at parties are common. If you break something, it’s basic etiquette to offer to replace the item, even though breakage is considered to be a price of home entertaining. The guest is ultimately not responsible.

• When in a synagogue, am I required to wear a yamaka if I am not Jewish? Even non-Jewish men are required to wear a yamaka (a skullcap, also known as a yarmulke or a kippah) at a Jewish ceremony. Women may or may not be asked to wear one. But only Jewish men wear a tallit (a prayer shawl).

• Is it okay to eat berries with my fingers? Berries are eaten with a spoon if served without stems. Berries with stems, such as strawberries, may be eaten with the fingers.

• If someone accidentally uses your bread plate at a dinner, should you ask the waiter for another one? Don’t ask for another plate, as this will crowd the table. The easiest solution is to use the rim of your dinner plate.

• How many times is it appropriate to go back and forth with an email for business? Three times is the rule; then pick up the telephone.

• Is it okay to attend a Catholic funeral if I am not Catholic? Yes. Non-Catholics may attend Catholic funerals and other Masses, although they may not receive Communion.

• Is it okay to take my seat if I arrive late to a talk or lecture? If you can slip in quietly, do so; otherwise, stand in the back of the room until the presentation is done.

• If an employee issue arises, should I handle it myself or ask a higher authority for help? Never attempt to go to a higher authority unless you cannot take care of the problem first yourself.

• How should I introduce my boss to a client? The rule is to say the most important person’s name first. In business, the client is considered the most important person, even though your boss is your superior. Simply say something along the lines of “Mr. Client, I’d like to introduce Mr. Boss, my manager. Mr. Boss, this is Mr. Client, our new client.” It doesn’t matter if the client is younger than your boss or if your boss is male or female; always introduce the client first.

Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert, an on-air contributor, and the author of A Traveler’s Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco and the founder and CEO of The AML Group (Lisagrotts.com), certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Stanford Hospital to Cornell University and Levi Strauss. She has been quoted by Condé Nast Traveler, InStyle magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. To learn more about Lisa, follow her on Twitter.com/LisaGrotts and Facebook.com/LisaGrotts

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