Q: Our daughter is getting married soon. The cost for the wedding is close to $100,000. Are we, as parents, supposed to give a wedding gift in addition to paying for the wedding?
A: Congratulations on your daughter's upcoming wedding. While in some families and cultures, the parents do give a tangible gift to the bridal couple, other families and cultures feel the wedding itself is enough.
This means it is completely your choice. Since you asked, I do recommend a token gift, something your daughter and her new mate can hold, point to, or use and say, "This was a wedding gift from my parents."
You need not run off to the mall. If you have any family heirlooms, something you brought out every holiday or something from her childhood home that is symbolic of familial love, that would make a lovely and thoughtful wedding gift.
Q: I moved to a new neighborhood about 10 years ago. Since that time, I have been asked to buy cookies, attend galas, support candidates, sponsor walk-a-thons and make donations.
Some of these are annual events, and I give repeatedly. Well, last year I found an organization I wished to sponsor and have been contacting these neighbors. It has been truly eye-opening to see how many have declined. Politely, but declined.
Yesterday, one of these neighbors who has been asking for years, and who declined to donate to my chosen organization, came around to ask me again for her cause. When I declined, she said, "But you have been donating for years." I said I was pooling my funds for the charity I had selected. I was shocked she did not make the connection. Should I have been more explicit with her?
What should I say when those who declined to donate come around again for their causes?
A: As you have observed, making a donation is never a quid-pro-quo situation, and the level of reciprocity you presumed does not exist.
As sad as that may sound to you, it affords you the perfect response when pressed as to your reason for no longer contributing to the varied requests.
With a kind tone of voice, explain that you realized over the years you have given hundreds (thousands?) of dollars to different charities, and you decided that instead of making multiple minor donations, you are making a single, large donation to (the name of your chosen charity) so that you can really make a difference.
Q: I am new to my company and have the telephone extension for a gentleman who left the company before I was hired (so I have no idea why he left or on what terms).
Three or four times a week, I receive non-work-related calls from people looking for him. I am guessing most are friends, as they don't sound like collection agencies. I do know his forwarding contact information but feel uncomfortable giving it to strangers.
On the other hand, I feel like his administrative assistant taking messages and e-mailing them to him. He is nice enough to e-mail me back saying "thanks" every time I pass a message along. What should I be doing in this situation?
A: You must approach your manager to explain the situation. I am sure your manager would not be thrilled to hear you are spending your time acting as a messenger between a former employee and random contacts.
If your manager is open to suggestion, you can offer to contact the former employee one last time to say that going forward you will be instructing callers that he no longer works for the organization.
This affords the former employee the opportunity to reach out to his family and friends to notify them of his status change, as well as his current contact information.
As an aside, many companies are kind enough to allow a former employee's e-mails to have an automatic response with a new contact e-mail.
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Jodi R.R. Smith is a nationally known etiquette expert and author. She is the president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. You are invited to e-mail her your etiquette emergencies at Salem@Mannersmith.com.