Ask The Expert

Q. Dear Julie, I fully understand the importance of a firm handshake in a business setting. Everything about me, who I am, and what I represent can often be summed up in the first few moments of a meeting starting with the handshake. However, as a man, I meet more and more professional women in the workforce and I get a variety of handshakes from women; some firm, some, well less than firm. My question is, in this age of political correctness, how do I know if I should and how I should, shake a womans hand?

A. A firm handshake is both proper and appropriate in any situation. The old fashioned gentleman will remember that once upon a time, a man waited for a woman to extend her hand first, otherwise he never initiated the handshake. Oh my, how times have changed. A firm handshake is in order for both genders for a social or business situation and either male or female, may initiate the handshake first. It is said in business, that the one who draws the hand first, wins. The only exception to this rule of handshaking is on the occasion of meeting the quite elderly or the disabled. You would then let them offer to initiate the handshake first.
Separator
Q. Dear Etiquette Expert: Please tell me what to do with a fingerbowl if I encounter it at a formal meal?

A. What you dont want to do is use the fingerbowl to quench your thirst. The fingerbowl is presented with the dessert but is used after the dessert is eaten to cleanse the fingers. The left fingertips are placed in the bowl and then blotted with the napkin. You then follow with your right hand. A more practical use for the fingerbowl would be to have it at your next barbecue.
Separator
Q. How do I downsize my gift list to friends who insist on being overly generous and buying elaborate gifts for me?

A. Remember it is still the thought that counts. Sincerity is the most important attribute in gift giving not the cost of it.
Separator
Q. It is such a nuisance when junk mail is continually forwarded to my e-mail address by my friends and coworkers. How can I eliminate it without hurting anyones feelings?

A. If you are not sending this type of mail back to your friends and coworkers, then they should certainly get the hint not to send the forwarding junk mail to you. You could change your e-mail address without giving them your new one. If this is too inconvenient, you may want to just delete the junk mail when you receive it.
Separator
Q. What do I do when I initiate a handshake to someone and they will not extend their hand to shake mine?

A. Simply drop your hand, show no difference in your facial expression and carry on the greeting verbally as if you are not bothered by the absence of the handshake.
Separator
Q. What do I do when draw a blank and cannot remember someones name?

A. It is far better to ask for someone to repeat their name than to say someones name incorrectly. Simply say, Please tell me your name. Show sincerity in your voice. If you can remember when you saw the person last, relate this to them. It will show the person that you do remember them, just not their name.
Separator