Best to just ignore mother-in-law’s annoying posts on Facebook

Best to just ignore mother-in-law’s annoying posts on Facebook

Enthusiastic, ALL-CAP comments will give your other Facebook friends a chuckle

Our new online etiquette columnist, Karen Cleveland.

Our new online etiquette columnist, Karen Cleveland.

Wondering whether to like, block, pin or post? Our new online etiquette columnist, Karen Cleveland, will be answering your questions about life online. She believes manners make the world a better place — and your virtual life is no exception. Tweet her your questions: @SchoolFinishing

Help! My mother-in-law friended me on Facebook. Now she comments on every single thing I post, in ALL CAPS, all the time. How do I get rid of her and still get invited to Christmas dinner?

How great for your mother-in-law — and for all of your other friends on Facebook who might get a giggle from her enthusiastic commenting. It’s sweet that she’s taken an interest in your social life (see what I did there?).

Are her comments harmless and simply abundant? Is this really something worth addressing, at the risk of ruffling some delicate feathers? The comments you’re sweating speak for themselves. Anyone else reading them likely knows who is posting them and will likely laugh them off with an “aw shucks” lightheartedness.

Speaking of lightheartedness, you might want to steal a page from that playbook. You could also just consider posting less on Facebook. Or posting this advice directly on your Facebook wall.

What is the appropriate way to sign an email? My contact’s “warm regards” make me feel moist and clammy.

Emails without any sign-off are the worst — talk about leaving someone hanging. An email sign-off is great and an appropriate one is even better.

“Appropriate” is the operative word here, depending entirely on who’s going to receive the email.

On the scale of familiar to formal, Xs and Os must be reserved for your closest friends and family. “Sincerely” belongs on messages that would otherwise be most at home on paper, handwritten in ink. When I read a message signed with “cheers” or “ciao,” I pray those words are part of the sender’s everyday vocabulary (otherwise, it comes off as trying too hard).

The tone of “best” switches, depending on the punctuation that follows. “Watch this. Best, Karen” — looks nice, right? “Best. KC” — looks a bit bitchy.

The final consideration is that the sign-off should match the message. Plans for meeting up for a drink, ended with “sincerely” is incongruous, just like a job offer ending with “xoxo.”

Is it OK to Photoshop my Instagram photos? Lindsay Lohan does it.

Whatever Lindsay Lohan does is often a very good gauge for what not to do. The better question here is: Why Photoshop your Instagram photos? The friends who follow you will know that your waist has been whittled or your gams lengthened, so why bother? You’re not pulling any fast ones. Now, touching up a blemish is another matter.

Perhaps the better gauge is that, if a product can fix it up, then let tech do it for you (red eyes or a nasty pimple, for example). But photo modifications that would require surgery or a diet of fish and greens for four months aren’t fooling anyone. If you treat your photos the way Lindsay Lohan does, you just might welcome the sort of comments that are on her feed — and the eyerolls she gets offline, too.

I just got engaged. Should we be using a hashtag for our wedding tweets?

Congratulations! Of course you can use a hashtag for your wedding. You can also serve anchovies for dessert, it’s your party.

A hashtag helps consolidate all your guests’ photos for the night, so it’s a smart idea for the social-media savvy. However, not everyone will share your enthusiasm. In fact, for every guest hashtagging your beautiful centrepieces, two more might roll their eyes.

Who cares? If you plan your wedding with the intention of making everyone happy, you’ll be serving 100 different entrees and finding a gluten-free vegan paleo organic dessert. As a traditionalist (though of the modern variety), I think hashtagging your wedding takes an intimate event and turns it into something really, really public.

But hey, it’s your party. Hashtag if you want to.

Each week, etiquette expert Karen Cleveland answers your questions about life online. Tweet her your questions: @SchoolFinishing.

(Originally appeared in the Toronto Star, May 2015)

Post-Modern Manners, on CBC Q

I had a great time as a guest on CBC Q – you can find the “listen” icon below the image on the landing page, here.

Post-Modern Manners: What’s rude in the age of oversharing?

Conflicted about taking that selfie? Perhaps you’re right to overthink it. Small dilemmas illuminate bigger shifts in culture and society — and norms forming around these micro decisions will define acceptable behaviour in the 21st century.
So, let’s talk about post-modern manners. Joining guest host Daniel Richler to discuss etiquette in the digital age we have:
  • Jen Agg, owner of the popular Toronto restaurants The Black Hoof and Rhum Corner.
  • Karen Cleveland, etiquette advisor at MannersAreSexy.com
Click here or on the listen button above to hear the full segment (audio runs 0:13:15) and tell us: how would you handle the situations we described on air?
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(Originally appeared on CBC Q, Feb 2, 2015)

Holiday Party Season Survival Guide

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Decoding your office holiday party invitation

holiday cocktails

Festive? Cocktail? Or festive cocktail? The language of party invitations is key to cracking the dress code, well, code. Following are some cues to heed in your choice of attire. And heed away. There is a return to an interest in dressing with intent (thanks in part to a movement against ‘Casual Fridays’ getting too casual). Taking pleasure in dressing for a sense of occasion has triumphed over huffing about having to fuss with a suit or cocktail dress. Wear the hell out of that formal wear.

If you’re fortunate enough to be invited to an event that calls for black tie, why not fully embrace it? Wearing your best can be a point of pride, as well as a nod of respect to your host.

While you open your closet, consider falling nicely in the middle of the sartorial spectrum. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you don’t want to be the flashiest person in the room, but you don’t want to be the most underdressed.

Black tie|
Men

  • Black tuxedo jacket and trousers
  • Crisp white formal shirt with button studs and cuff links
  • Bow tie (or formal long tie, smart tie clip optional, as is pocket square)
  • Cummerbund or vest
  • Black patent shoes and black dress socks

Women

  • Floor length evening gown, or dressy cocktail dress
  • Evening heels or shoes (fabric over leather, often)
  • Formal accessories (not the handbag you schlep to the office, for example) and hair very done

Semiformal or Cocktail

Men

  • Dark suit
  • Crisp, pressed dress shirt
  • Tie, cuff links, tie pin if you’re feeling it
  • Leather dress shoes and dark dress socks

Women

  • Cocktail dress, top and skirt combination or smart pantsuit in an evening fabric
  • As dolled up in accessories as you like: jewellery, handbag and shoes
 
Business Formal – a slightly less smart or formal version of the above for both men and women
Festive Cocktail
Men
  • Relaxed cocktail attire, but a bit more ease. A vest over a dress shirt. Reindeer sweater is not required (be relaxed, but not costumey)
Women
Business Casual

Are jeans ok for business casual? If the function and occasion are more casual than business, then yes, but opt for your darkest, pristine denim.

Men
  • Blazer or sport coat in a seasonally appropriate fabric
  • Casual dress shirt (tie is optional) or collared polo
  • Loafers (if wearing socks, they should be good socks, not white gym socks. And hipsters may bare ankle as they see fit).

Women

  • Casual dress (nothing strapless or too precious) or a shirt with skirt or pant
  • Keep the business in “business casual” – nothing too slinky or bombshell
  • Wedges, modest heels or a smart flat (look no further than Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge for a study in casual)

Non-romantic breakups – guest on The Social

I was so thrilled when The Social asked me to be a guest on the show’s premiere episode back in September, I was even more excited that they asked me to come back!

On November 1, we had a great discussion about non-romantic breakups (you know, moving on from your hairdresser, your trainer).