How to address work emails, Tinder cameos and Facebook flirting

Tell your friend her husband is on Tinder with a non-judgmental screen grab, etiquette expert says

Imet a cute guy at a bar. Will I come off as a stalker if I friend him on Facebook?

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Imet a cute guy at a bar. Will I come off as a stalker if I friend him on Facebook?

What’s the proper way to address an email to my staff? “Hi folks?” “Hey all?” “Colleagues?” Nothing seems quite right. I don’t want them to think we’re friends. I might have to fire them.

Well, big boss, you can take some liberties with how you address the staff. In fact, you don’t need a noun at all. Controversial, I know, but you can just start an email with “Hello” or “Good morning,” slap a comma beside it and get on with it. You’re right in not wanting to be too colloquial, as it is still a professional environment. That said, you can still address your colleagues, as well, people. You don’t need to address them with the formality that would have went out in a 1980s inter-office fax. Nor do you need to pretend to be chummier than you actual are. If you walk into the office and say, “Hey guys” because it feels natural for you, then you might feel comfortable using that language in an email. Exercise your good judgment, which as a boss, I’m sure you have in spades.

My friend’s husband is using Tinder. Should I swipe right as a match so he will know I saw him, or will he think I’m game for an affair?

Nooooooo do not swipe right! He might very well think you are game for an affair, and I’m going to assume that you are not keen to sleep with your friend’s husband. But do use your phone for something else. Take a screen grab of him and send it to your friend with a non-judgey comment, like, “Hey, is this your husband on Tinder?” For all you know, they have an open relationship and she’s also on Tinder, swiping her heart out. Or, you’ll have just given her a crucial piece of information that will prompt a very important conversation between them. Either way, don’t make any assumptions, but don’t hide your discovery. Honesty is, as they say, the best policy.

I met a cute guy at a bar. Will I come off as a stalker if I friend him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and add him on Instagram?

Yup, but you’ll do it anyways, won’t you? Because you’re human. And when we meet someone we’re into, we want to know everything about them as quickly as we can, so that we can text a friend and say, “I KNEW it! His profile picture is from the same part of Italy that I’ve been to, so we’re totally destined to be together!”

Try not to get too caught up in this. You will be looking for information that has no context. You might see something and give it too much weight, like photos of him with other women. And you’ll immediately want to know what their deal is. Nothing good can come from this. Give his social profile the requisite glance to make sure there is nothing alarming (you did say you met at a bar…) or off-putting, them move on. Assuming you exchanged contact information, save getting to know him for in real life.

Etiquette expert Karen Cleveland answers your questions about life online. Tweet her your questions: @SchoolFinishing

(Originally appeared in the Toronto Star, September 2015)

Christmas Etiquette on Global News Vancouver

How to Pull Off Leather at the Office

Here, 10 of the new wearable leather silhouettes showcased on the runways you’ll want to add to your wardrobe workwear now. We’re talking strictly business

NOVEMBER 27, 2014

As soon as fall merchandise started rolling into stores, leather shot to the top of my shopping list. But not the teen-pop legging look I saw on racks everywhere. I was more drawn to its grown-up sisters: lean sheath dresses, beautifully cut skirts and refined fitted jackets.

I’ve flirted with leather over the years: A favourite pair of leather jeans, long since sold on consignment, a well-loved collection of bomber jackets, biker jackets and a knee-length coat all had their places at some point in my closet. But leather for daytime just seemed too much. To ease myself in, I stuck to my cardinal uniform of black and found a few key leather pieces to gussy up my wardrobe of basics.

But first, some important reconnaissance. Susie Sheffman, fashion creative director and consultant, has sage advice for making leather look professional: Wear one piece at a time, and mix it with tailored pieces, like a well-cut blouse or tweed blazer. This, she points out, “takes the toughness down.” She advises me to remove anything too clubby or vampy from my outfits, and when wearing leather pants, to keep the stomach, waistline and bum covered up. She also recommends keeping shoes simple—skip the sky-high heels in favour of a flat, a mid-heel or an oxford to keep the sexiness in check.

Fortunately, on the day I wanted to brave leather pants, the weather was perfect. I wore skinny black leather pants from Ann Taylor with a crisp white collared shirt, a favourite black J.Crew “schoolboy” blazer and nude flats. I felt completely comfortable, as the outfit was a small upgrade from my usual black wool skinny trousers. I got a few compliments on the pants (they fit really nicely), and it felt office appropriate but with a little something extra. This outfit will indeed be in the rotation on the regular.

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Ann Taylor pants, $116, anntaylor.com

On Fridays, without fail, I wear some variation of the skinny jeans and blazer combination. I subbed out one of my go-to blazers in favour of a moto-style jacket from Banana Republic with an ink-blue body and black fabric sleeves. Marissa Webb, Banana Republic’s new creative director (and J.Crew alumna), has already put her mark on the fall and winter line, with a ton of leather and mixed-medium pieces.

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Banana Republic jacket, $310, bananarepublic.ca

One week, I wore it with a white collared shirt (yup, again), black skinny jeans and ankle boots. It felt like a cooler, fresher version of my casual Friday uniform. Another week, I paired it with a knit black pencil skirt, black tank and simple black pumps. Both times, I received lots of compliments (especially from the young ones around the office).

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Here’s the thing: When you introduce a beautiful leather garment into your outfit, it instantly makes it more special or interesting, even in a subtle way. So as someone with an admittedly basic wardrobe, I felt good wearing leather to the office.

 Danier skirt, $250, danier.com

(Published originally for The Kit, November 2014)

You really, truly shouldn’t go to work when you’ve got a cold

Your martyrdom just spreads germs

Woman sneezing on the couch while home sick from work.

(Tom Merton/Getty)

What variety of martyrdom compels us to soldier into work, when we’re sick as dogs? The Journal of Occupational Health Psychology makes the case that there is a traditional understanding that attendance used to equate to performance in the workplace, a notion that should have been tossed out with the fax machine.

“I suspect that many people come into work when they’re sick because they’re scared of falling behind, or worry things will fall apart without them,” says Sheri Langer, an HR professional in Toronto. “For some, it is a demonstration of just how committed they are, when in reality, staying home for a day or two is better for your team as it keeps the virus from spreading.”

While we might feel like the honourable thing to do is to show our commitment by dragging our sick selves into the office, the more responsible thing to do for the greater good is to spare your coworkers from your gnarly germs and stay home for a day or two.

Here are five things to know about calling in sick like a grown up:

1. You’re doing the right thing

If you’re really sick, take solace in knowing that staying home is the best thing for your health and your colleagues. You’re heroically preventing others from getting sick and helping yourself recover sooner.

2. Pick up the phone and call

Call or email your boss explaining that you are staying home sick for the day. Millennials take note: a text message is too casual of a medium to convey this and isn’t conducive to providing context. Plus, if you sound like hell on the phone, it bodes well for lots of sympathy when you’re back in the office.

3. Give just enough information

While there is no need to go into the gory symptomatic details (save those your doctor), you should provide a cursory descriptor of what ails you. Mentioning that you have a migraine and are out of commission for the day is one thing: going into explicit detail to describe a gastrointestinal issue is quite another.

4. Be helpful

Touch on who-can-cover-off-what in your absence, and if you hazard a guess, say when you expect to be back in the office. If team members or anyone that reports to you needs to know you’re taking the day off, fill them in too. Set your auto reply on your email inbox so people know to expect a delay in your reply.

5. Get back to bed

Arm yourself with orange juice, cold meds, tea, whatever your weapon of choice is and rest up. If you use your sick day to truly recuperate, you will be better poised to nip your sickness in its early stages—and avoid wiping out your colleagues in the process.

Karen Cleveland is a Toronto-based etiquette writer and advisor. Follow her on Twitter or visit her site.

(Originally published for Canadian Business, October 2014)

Introducing The Skimm

A solid handshake, warm smile and immaculate manners go a long way, but the art of giving good, smart small talk is key. I read a great little book on the subject and a while back talked about the importance of knowing how to properly introduce your boss socially.

It’s pretty well impossible to make quality small talk without knowing what’s going on in the world. A quick skim of the daily news allows you to keep pace on light banter. Imagine how embarrassing it would be to be stuck in an elevator with someone you want to do right by, and they’re talking about the ground-breaking morning headlines that you know nothing about. No one wants to feel like a dumbdumb. Moreover, local and global news are typically safe terrain for small talk (provide you stay clear of the being fiercely opinionated on the loaded territory of politics, religion and investing, unless you welcome controversy).

While I love curling up with a coffee and getting all inky-fingered over a newspaper, I was recently introduced to The Skimm, which lives up to its advanced billing of a skim of daily news. The daily newsletter has become a part of my morning routine, giving me the what-I-need-to-knows for the day. From there, I can later go back and scope for what stories I want to read in more detail from my usual go-to sources.

While the content is bonafide news (its founders are NBC News alumni) short, it is served up in a pithy, witty tone. As The Skimm is published out of NYC, American headlines are requisite, but the coverage of international issues is mint. Maybe one day they’ll make a Canadian edition, if we ask them really nicely.

Manners are sexy, so is keeping up on what’s happening. You can subscribe (free!) here. And follow them on Facebook and Twitter.