Real and Simple No. 3: Answers to Your Most Basic Etiquette Questions

Sep, 14, 2015


Number three on my list of most-asked etiquette questions includes both business and social quandaries, with answers to help you move gracefully through your day.

• When applying for a job, is it okay to ask about salary range? As a job candidate, you are within your rights to ask about salary range. It’s not okay to ask how you measure up against other candidates.

• When out to lunch on a job interview, is it okay to order a sandwich? Job interview food can be tricky. It’s okay to order a sandwich, but steer clear of spaghetti. No one wants red sauce on his or her white shirt. The best choice would be grilled meat or fish.

• Is it okay to serve liqueurs during lunch? Liqueurs are not served with lunch unless the event is a formal diplomatic affair.

• Should children be admitted to live theatre? Of course children are meant to attend theater staged expressly for them, but as a general rule they should not attend live theatre for adults; they are simply too fidgety and can disturb other patrons.

• Do you have to RSVP when you cannot attend an event? It’s always courteous to respond, whether the answer is yes or no.

• In the English style of service, is the food presented on a platter then plated at a nearby table? This style of service is Russian. The English style is when food is presented on platters and you serve yourself (see Downton Abbey).

• To engage in small talk, do you only need to read the headlines of a newspaper? A good rule is to know a little about a lot of things. Read anything and everything, not just the headlines. And don’t forget the sports section!

• When setting the table with place cards, should you add the person’s honorific? You may add Dr., as in Dr. Samuel Johnson, but not academic degrees, as in Samuel Johnson, Ph.D.

• After listening to a speaker, is it okay to ask questions? Most speakers appreciate an audience interested enough to ask questions. If you are responding to something the speaker said, repeat the remark before you ask your question.

• When taking a telephone message, should you always ask a person why he or she is calling? No, the reason for the call should not be asked. The person answering the phone should simply ask the caller’s name, repeat and confirm the message, and ask how the call can be returned.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]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 (, 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 and

Follow Lisa Mirza Grotts on Twitter.[/author_info] [/author]

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