Spooning sugar into coffee?

Q  I drink my coffee with sugar, but am not sure how to add it when in a restaurant and the sugar is in a container. Do I pour from the container right into the coffee, or do I pour it into my spoon first?

A  You pour the sugar into your teaspoon, and then lower the spoon into the coffee cup. If you are a two-or-more teaspoon sugar person, you use the same method. Even the spoon won’t be dry, having already been inserted into the cup, the sugar will dissolve from the spoon when you lower it the second (or third!) time.

Q  My friend’s husband died a year ago. We are coming up on the anniversary of his death and I’m wondering if I should send her a sympathy card?

A  No, you surely expressed your sympathy at the time. It is thoughtful that you remember and want to let her know that you do, but rather than continuing to dwell on her loss, you might instead simply offer companionship if you think it will be a difficult day for her, without making it be a sad event. In the future, you of course continue to offer her the opportunity to talk about her husband, and sometimes share a happy story or memory that you have about him, but your greatest act of friendship would be to celebrate his life, and hers, at other times than the anniversary of his death. If she is not nearby so that you can plan a nice day together, then you can send her a “thinking of you” card with positive thoughts, again not dwelling on her loss or sad thoughts. It eventually is more positive for people to celebrate the life of a loved one than to commemorate his or her death.

Q  I have been told that I need to start coming to work prepared always for client meetings. In other words, the powers that be don’t approve of my perhaps more informal attire. Is this acceptable?

A  Sure. Even if your company doesn’t have a written dress code, it apparently has an unwritten set of expectations and you are not exempt from meeting them. If you work in a formal office, it is incumbent on you to be equally formal, particularly if you wish to be considered for promotion. If you don’t like this, then you probably should look for a job in a more casual office, because under-dressing will not be appreciated where you are, no matter how good you are at your job.

Q  In a business environment, does it hold true that a man should not extend his hand but rather wait for a woman to extend hers?

A  That used to be the case, and still is pretty much the case socially, but business etiquette today is preferably as gender neutral as possible, so a man may extend his hand first when meeting a female if she doesn’t do so first.

Questions for Catherine? Send them to arts@hersamacorn.com