Answers to your random etiquette questions

Over the last few weeks I’ve been asked by friends, colleagues and my Facebook page Likes various etiquette questions. So this post is a recap of the questions I’ve gotten and my answers.

Are there guidelines on tipping for takeout?

When you purchase something at a counter, like coffee or take out, it’s not necessary to leave a tip unless you are so moved. It’s a nice gesture but not required. If you’re handed a receipt where you can write in a tip you don’t need to write in a tip, but if you choose to do so usually 10% is just fine.

For the pizza delivery person, a $1 or $2 tip is appropriate.

Is text speak OK to use on social media and email?

Text speak (“u’, “grt”, “b4”, etc.) is not appropriate for posting on social media and writing emails. Really the only appropriate place for text speak is when you’re texting. It doesn’t look professional and it looks like you’re in a hurry or can’t speak proper English. So, nix the text speak in every form of communication except texting.

If someone invites me to coffee or lunch, who is responsible for suggesting the time and place?

When you invite someone to join you for coffee or lunch, it is polite to suggest a few dates and times and a couple of meeting place options. You could say in the email, “These are some dates and times that work for me, do any of them work for you? If not, please feel free to suggest some times and dates that do work.”

As for a meeting place, you could ask what part of town they are in so that you can suggest a meeting place that is near your guest. Or, if you don’t know the area your guest is in you could ask, “Do you have a favorite spot near your office/home?”

Avoid saying “Where do you want to meet?” This puts the onus on your guest to suggest places, and s/he may feel they should find a spot near you.

Also, when you are the inviter, you shouldn’t ask your guest to come your way unless you want to treat them to a special restaurant. It should always be convenient for your guest.

Lastly, if you are the guest being invited to lunch or coffee and you aren’t free during any of the times the inviter suggested, don’t just respond, “Sorry, those don’t work for me.” Instead say, “Those times don’t work, but here are some dates and times I am available. Do any of those work for you?”

Should I ask permission to sit down at a partially occupied bench or table?

A friend of mine shared that she was at a conference and before sitting down at a table she asked the two people sitting there if she could join them. The woman at the table thanked her for asking first because a few minutes earlier the woman and her friend were having a personal conversation when another woman had sat down at the table without asking permission first. It made it uncomfortable for the two original people to continue their private conversation for fear of being overheard.

It’s always polite to ask permission first of the people sitting at “public” tables or benches to ensure you aren’t intruding. Plus, if the person/people sitting there don’t seem occupied it’s a good opportunity to introduce yourself and make a new connection.

That’s it for this post. What are you etiquette questions? Your questions always give me great blog and social media fodder. Keep them coming.




One thought on “Answers to your random etiquette questions

  1. Marcus Coons

    I had no idea that it was appropriate to do a $1 or $2 dollar tip for a pizza delivery person. It is important to remember that taking the time to understand how much you should tip can help you avoid over or under tipping them and make sure you are being fair. Personally, I would think that depending on the type or delivery services you receive would help you determine how much to tip the delivery person who brings you food from your favorite restaurant.

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