Question: My colleagues want to give our boss a birthday gift I’m sure he’ll hate. They want me to chip in; do I have to contribute to this disaster?
- Signed, Want-no-Part
Answer: Dear Want-no-Part,
Giving a gift to your boss by yourself could be seen as a ploy for favors. If your teammates choose a gift that might be considered offensive or inappropriate (sexual innuendo, age critical, etc.) you should not participate. Instead, give a birthday card reflective of your taste. Unless your colleagues opt for a better group gift, this is your best route.
In hopes of a more civil world,
Question: I don’t believe in wasting food. Is it tacky to ask for a doggie bag at a client lunch?
Answer: Well, yes and it doesn’t matter who is footing the bill. A business lunch isn’t an opportunity for you to stock up for dinner later which is how it looks. If you know you’re not going to eat your entire entrée, consider ordering an appetizer or side orders instead.
Question: How casual is casual when an office dress policy is business casual during the week and states, “casual dress” on Fridays?
Answer: These days everyone seems to be dressing up more, perhaps one tiny bright spot in a down economy. Look, when in doubt, dress better. Always have a jacket and an extra shirt, tie (or scarf) in your office on a hanger somewhere. The one time that matters more than any other makes it worth having, even if the thing sits there for six months. If you’re from the West Coast and going to a business meeting on the East Coast be alert if they say, “We’re casual dressers here.” Don’t believe them for a minute. It’s not that they are liars, but Silicon Valley types, SF hipsters plus your basic Southern California biz folks interpret “casual” as well, comfy stuff. Not so on the EC, though they will tell you they are perfectly comfortable in their sweater sets (paired with skirts and nylons) oxford shirts and blazers. Jeans? Jeans with holes—and flip flops? Uhm, that would be a “No.”