Q: I worked for a bank for many years. We were required to greet customers as soon as they entered the door.
The reason was very sensible: Bank robbers do not want to be recognized. They assume, correctly, that if you see them before they terrorize you, you will be able to describe them. What does Miss Manners think?
A: She has no objection to polite methods of ferreting out potential criminals. Miss Manners only hopes that the greeter keeps the intrusiveness of his greeting below a point that might terrorize the customers.
Q: Our office has given a particular person gifts three different times. First was a baby shower gift (which was actually one large gift from the office and many separate gifts from individuals). Second, a floral arrangement was sent when the baby was delivered. Third, due to Administrative Assistant Week, another floral arrangement was sent to the same person.
This person has yet to acknowledge or thank the office or individuals in any form or fashion for any of the gifts or flowers. Since I’m the one who normally takes care of making sure that gifts are bought and flowers ordered, I have the office coming to me asking if there was a thank-you card or note from said person.
How do you approach this? Do you confront the person and say people want to know if you liked the gift/gifts? Or do you stop sending something to someone who seems so unappreciative?
A: You might tell the recipient that you are getting such questions. But be prepared if the answer is, “Oh, tell everyone I liked them a lot.” Or “a bit.” Or “not at all.” People who disdain etiquette often think that brutal frankness is an adequate substitute.
Miss Manners does not condone civilians chastising one another about their manners, but when it has reached this point, she does not object to a neutrally worded suggestion that you yourself send thank-you notes and that people appreciate receiving them, matters that your co-worker might consider.
However, she does point out a possible confusion about gifts that were sent by “the office” or in the passive voice. To whom are thanks due for such gifts? But after she adds this to the list of reasons why she does not like office gifting, Miss Manners has a solution.
What your co-worker should have done was to follow her benefactors’ lead in issuing her thanks. A personal present from an individual requires a hand-written individual thank-you. A gift presented at a party on behalf of a roomful of people can be acknowledged with a verbal thank-you to everyone at the party either individually or, acoustics and topography permitting, all at once. A group gift delivered at home (or tossed in an inbox at work) can be acknowledged with a card posted in the lunchroom or an email.
Miss Manners agrees that those who are not thanked cannot reasonably be expected to participate in the future.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.