Danger: email!

Q  Oops. I wrote an email to a co-worker complaining about the loud voice of the person whose cubicle is next to mine. Except by mistake, I sent it to that person, not the person I meant to send it to. Do I apologize or pretend it never happened, or what?

A  Big oops. Yes, immediately apologize to your cubicle neighbor, telling her you were having a bad day and didn’t mean to take it out on her, but don’t expect her to be pleased or forgiving. The one bright spot in this unfortunate matter is that she may consider your words and use her “indoor voice” in the future. The other is that this reinforces a big email rule: Don’t, especially at work, put anything in an email that you wouldn’t print out and post on the department bulletin board. Following this policy saves you the kind of embarrassment you are feeling right now.

Q  Looking ahead to warmer weather, we have concerns about our neighbors’ children playing in our yard, on our play equipment, when we aren’t at home. We welcome them, as our children’s friends, but last summer they didn’t wait for an invitation and used it when we were not there. What can we say?

A  You are right to be cautious because were any accidents to occur, the liability would be yours. The same risks are present even if you are home, but when you are there to monitor play, you have more control over how the equipment is used. Talk to your neighbor about this and say, “We love that your children are enjoying our little playground, but have to ask that they not use it when we aren’t home. I know you understand the risk factor.” If they persist, repeat the request.

Q  We are planning a 50th anniversary party for our parents and on the guest list is a lawyer and his wife. Do we include Esquire after their names, since he’s a lawyer?

A  No, Esquire, or more correctly, Esq., is never used on social invitations. You would address their envelope to Mr. and Mrs. James Jones. You may use Esq. on business correspondence, but without the title Mr. or Ms., as in Benjamin Brostman, Esq. or Diane Davis, Esq.

Q  I have a neighbor who seems to always be collecting money for one cause or another. I have my own favorite charities and am starting to feel uncomfortable about saying “no” to her, but really, I think I’m angry about feeling harassed. How can I stop this without hurting her feelings.

A  Tell her that you admire all her hard work, but that you have a set budget for charitable giving and programs that you feel strongly about to which you give, leaving no budget for other people’s favorite charities, so you hope she understands and stops asking you because you feel bad always having to tell her “no.” If she continues, say the same thing, repeatedly, until she stops.

Have a question of etiquette? Send it to Catherine Michaels in care of arts [at] hersamacorn.com.

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