Advice Columns

Miss Manners: Business email should avoid slang

niversal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I received an email from one of our board chairs sent to “Peeps.” My boss, who thinks he is “in the know,” thought that was an OK salutation. I said I would never answer one that started off like a 12-year-old trying to be cool. What do you think?

GENTLE READER: That when adults use children’s slang to “relate,” they are themselves the only ones being fooled.

Using it in a professional setting is even less likely to be successful. Miss Manners proposes that you suggest to your board chair that he should tread carefully, as those with differences in age, race, education, income and cultural background may find such familiarity offensive.

Use a fork

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it polite to eat a baked potato with your hands?


Not only is it impolite, but Miss Manners considers it unwise. The screams when you burn your hands are bound to annoy others.

Don’t slight co-worker

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I retired after 37 years in the same job. It is customary where I worked to have a catered party for the retiree, which means speeches, cards and a gift.

I am uncomfortable with being the center of attention, so I told my boss that I would be happy with the five folks in my office going out for drinks and a light dinner after work one day. I suggested a restaurant.

As it turned out, my boss came to my desk and said they were taking me to lunch. We walked to a different restaurant, and he bought lunch for the five of us. Lunch consisted of my boss talking about himself.

My feelings were a bit hurt when I received neither a card from my boss/co-workers, nor a small gift.

My co-worker of 15 years is retiring, and they are giving her a party. I like her and have enjoyed working with her, but it will be difficult for me to attend. I will feel awkward. I don’t know what the other folks in my organization were told about the lack of a party at my retirement, and it has felt uncomfortable to me.

How do I gracefully handle this upcoming retirement of my co-worker? Can I not attend? Can I wish her well with a card and a gift and be absent at her party?

GENTLE READER: Well, you got your wish about not being the center of attention. But after 37 years, it would have been right for you to be at least the topic of conversation at the ceremonial acknowledgment of your retirement, whatever form it took. It is unfortunate that when you asked for something different, your boss interpreted your request to suit himself.

That said, Miss Manners does not approve either the manners or the sentiment of expressing your dissatisfaction at the expense of a co-worker. It would be gracious of you to attend and tell everyone how lovely the party was.

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,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

© Universal Uclick 9/24