She’s at it again. Our quintessential etiquette expert, Sharon Schweitzer, JD, is on the path to help you streamline the finer side of life with the little conundrums that can surely arise. Take note.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,
It happened again. With all the challenging political opinions shared on social media, I’ve had to rethink some of my online relationships. I wouldn’t want anyone to judge me by my political views, since I wouldn’t judge theirs. Do I “unfollow” them to not be subjected to their views, or just turn the other cheek?
Socially Inclined

Dear Socially Astute,
This election season has engendered heated debate both on and off social media. If you feel that your relationships are impacted by the frequency and intensity of the political posts, “unfollowing” is a discreet and effective option for a newsfeed free of politics. If you can tolerate the occasional political post, ignore their posts and scroll on to the next non-political posting.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,
We were having a lovely dinner at the bar of a distinguished Beverly Hills hotel and the person at the next booth over insisted on watching videos on his phone at full volume (no earbuds). How should we have handled it?  Ask a manager to confront this or can we lean over and ask him to adjust his volume?
Raising The Bar

Dear Raising My Glass To You,
At a venue of this caliber, it is the staff’s responsibility to maintain the dining establishment’s decorum. Therefore, the maître d’ is in the position to discreetly request the rambunctious guest to graciously use his phone outside, or adjust the volume to off. If the situation arises again, step out of sight and discreetly ask a higher power at the locale to handle the situation.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,
I’m going to Europe for the first time in years; now finally clear of other obligations that have prevented the trip. These days should I contact my hotel’s concierge well ahead of time for planning dinner reservations, theatre tickets and VIP museum tours? How much is gratuity for that service?
European Jaunter

Dear Euro Goer,
Yes, it is a wise idea to plan and make reservations well in advance to enjoy the opportunities you want to pursue with the timing you desire. Contacting your hotel concierge for assistance will ensure that your itinerary is perfect. Although making reservations is part of professional concierge services, tipping upon arrival and confirmation is proper international etiquette. Global tipping guidelines vary depending on the country and service, so do your research in advance. Travel agents are excellent resources.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,
Birthdays are important to me and I love celebrating those of others. We have attended two gatherings in the last six months and brought (what we think were) thoughtful gifts chosen especially for the recipient and I handed them personally to the birthday celebrant. Alas, after several months the gift hasn’t been acknowledged. Should I move on, lowering my expectations for the future, or mention it sometime in the future?
Giving Tree

Dear Gifter Extraordinaire,
It is indeed disappointing when our kindest efforts to acknowledge a birthday or special occasion are ignored or unappreciated. The next time you see this person at a gathering, you might ask, “How did you like the birthday gift of (insert gift offered)?” They’ll absorb this subtle prompt for an acknowledgement, and may remember for the future that a simple “thank you” goes a long, long way when timed correctly.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,
I love living near my husband’s parents and feel fortunate that they are a part of our children’s lives. They babysit every two weeks when we have evening obligations but unfortunately, my in-laws don’t follow guidelines for bedtime, dietary needs, exposure to media content, etc.  While I don’t want to disallow them of this opportunity should I just hire a babysitter so this doesn’t occur? How do I explain they aren’t going to be keeping their grandchildren like before?
Wondering Conundrum

Dear Curious Conundrum,
Consider the sandwich technique, layering unpleasant news between two layers of good news. Before relieving them of baby-sitting duties, you and your partner may want to jointly visit with them to express your appreciation for their time with the children. Then your partner can express concern regarding your children’s health, routine, and well-being, asking them to please follow family guidelines more carefully. Explain that you are grateful for the role they have in your family’s life, but that you need them to respect parenting decisions for the sake of their grandchildren’s health and happiness.  Then thank them again for their wonderful investment of time or other contribution. If they fail to follow family guidelines, then hire the babysitter who does.

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