Archive for the ‘Etiquette & Manners Q&A’ Category

          I’m a college student, I graduate in May and have an internship lined up. I want to print some business cards to use for networking and my long-term job search. The internship is unpaid and only for 2 months so I’m not sure if I want the company name on the cards. My question is, could I put my degree, BA International Business, under my name instead of the company name? Or should I stick with the standard Company Name – Intern? It’s a small company and I feel like it’d be more beneficial to put my degree for job hunting purposes.           — A.S.

Dear A.S., It would be inappropriate to create a company business card for yourself to be used for other than company business. If you want to create a networking card for your job search … that’s a great idea. I’ve seen them with a  just their name, degree, cell phone and e-mail — without a mailing address.  Why not include a link to your on-line resume?           — Robert Hickey 


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I am creating a rustic wooden sign for my daughter & her husband for their lake house.  I was planning on on putting Todd & Bethany’s Lake House on the sign, but my friend insists that there is a rule that Bethany should be first.  Is there a rule on this?
             — DC

Dear DC,
There is a “rule” that when you write a couple’s name … and they use his family name as their joint family name … you keep “his” name together as a unit:
 Bethany and Todd Wilson
Rather than:
 Todd and Bethany Wilson
Other books suggest that the woman’s name is always first … due a “ladies first”rule.
I don’t think either are critically important rules since using both first names is informal … and informality is flexible. (Formal would be Mr. and Mrs. Todd Wilson)
I am always looking at donor lists in programs and you typically see both forms among the names.
So to me it’s a personal option … but I would use your friend’s suggestion.
I follow the Bethany and Todd Wilson rule, thus the Bethany and Todd’s Lake House form is consistent with that … and I like to be consistent.
Professional obsession I guess!
      — Robert Hickey

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My daughter married in May of this year.  My new son-in-law’s aunt is a Federal Judge. My husband and I joined them for Thanksgiving — a large annual gathering at which we were included.  I would like to write her a thank you note for her gracious hospitality.  How should the envelope be addressed?  My daughter’s mother-in-law said on a previous occasion to address it to Betsy and John Smith but that seems a tad cavalier.   Is The Honorable Betsy Smith and Mr. John Smith  too staid?  Is Mr. & Mrs. John Smith too casual?  Of course we are on first name basis with both she and her husband.
             — Susan T.

Dear Kim & Toni,
The decision is to decide how formal you want to be.

I vote for formal on the mailing envelope …. The Honorable Betsy Smith and Mr. John Smith  … for the postman’s eyes.
I have never had anyone not appreciate being acknowledgedwith the formal form of address to which they are entitled.

And informal on the note  …  Dear Betsy and John, … for their eyes.

RE: Betsy — Check on the court’s website to see if they list her as “Betsy” or “Elizabeth” …. nickname or formal name.  Courts nearly always list the judges and give biographies.  If you are going to be formal, then do it with the formal form of her name.
      — Robert Hickey

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I am sending a sympathy card from our College’s President Mary Smith and her husband John Smith.  How should the card be signed? I send this sort of sympathy card to our students who may not know her name.  Any thoughts on that?
— Suzanne Grey

Dear Ms. Grey:
      If the recipient might not know the President’s name, is not a strictly personal card …. so consider having it be MORE from The President & the College … not including her husband’s name on it. Figuring out a way to include her name & office and his name will be cumbersome.
If looks to be personally signed by your boss, how about something like:
 Mary Smith and the faculty of (Name of) College
If it looks typed … thus looks more official and less personal:
 Dr. Mary Smith and the faculty of (Name of) College
The Dr. is on the latter option because one does not give oneself an honorific in a signature, so she would not actually sign herself as Dr. Mary Smith. 
I also considered:
  Mary Smith and your friends at (Name of) College
… but I think she can most appropriately send condolences from the Office of the President and the faculty rather than the student body … but you would know better than I on that point.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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What does one do with their gum if they have already sat down to eat?
        — D.P. in Pittsburgh

Dear D.P.:
There is no correct place for disposing of trash or gum on the dining table.
The person should excuse him or herself from the table and go get rid of it in a trash can.
        – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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If a politician does a favor for a citizen, how does the citizen properly thank the politician? I sent a business letter to my local elected official asking for help. He not only responded immediately but acted in less than 24 hours. I am so thankful for his help! A card seems too personal and an email seems too unexceptional. Should I send thanks as a business letter?
   — Cindy

Dear Cindy:
A hand-written card expressing thanks is never incorrect. But if you want something more official, write him a letter. In today’s world of email and voice mail … a note or letter gets maximum attention.
Use a standard business-letter format, address to his office, re-state your request for the record, praise his actions/helpfulness, and end with sincere thanks.
If you really want to make him happy …. tell him you are going to tell a dozen neighbors about his action.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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Quick question when doing a toast to the president of Taiwan is it:
1)  To His Excellency the President of Taiwan — with the response being; To His Excellency
2)  To the President of Taiwan — with response being; To the President
My instincts say number one but there is a debate. I have a copy of your book but don’t see a form for this. 
— D.C. in Colorado Springs

Dear D.C.,
I would use #1 … and thus toast the person rather than the office. Regarding #1, His/Her Excellency always precedes a full name, then, list the office:
His Excellency (Full Name), The President of Taiwan
It is “he” who is excellent … not the job.
And the end of the toast could absolutely be:
To His Excellency
I have two forms for a visiting head of state … the second form uses Excellency.See page 408 in the book in the Chapter on International Officials. Note that I include in there a reference to (Personal Honorific If Presented):  Many internationals include a honorific in there before their name such as Dr. or Professor. In the USA we don’t include an honorific when we use a courtesy title, but if your visitor does, you should include it.
– Robert Hickey

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