A Question of Etiquette: Neighborly outreach


color-etiquette-09-29-16-1My next door neighbor has a tree near the fence that divides our properties. The tree has become quite large and part of it hangs over the fence into my yard and has put my garden in total shade. Can I cut off the branches that are in my yard?


Yes, but it is better to talk to your neighbor about the problem and ask if you can saw off the branches or whether he would rather do it himself. He may want to hire a tree company do the work if the tree needs some professional attention.  Just hacking off the offending limbs could damage the tree, so it’s best to make this a friendly rather than hostile operation.


I am a 50-year-old male and am about to attend a convention and have been instructed to dress in “business elegant attire.” What the heck does this mean?


It’s always difficult to know what is meant when others make up their own dress codes, but a safe guess would be that you are expected to wear a suit, shirt and tie rather than more customary convention attire, generally a shirt and slacks, with or without a sport coat.


My husband shouts for me from other rooms, and now my children are doing this. I was raised with the rule that if I needed someone’s attention, I went to where they were. I’ve requested this but they all have ignored my suggestion. Am I wrong that they are being rude?


No, you are correct. Shouting, other than in an emergency, is never polite. Speak to your husband first about changing this pattern so you are both on the same team, and then have a family meeting to explain your expectation to your children. Not responding when they shout reinforces this rule.


I work in the customer service department of my company. When sending correspondence to women, what title do I use? If I know someone is married or widowed but don’t know her husband’s name, how do I find it if I address her as Mrs.?


Many companies today are using the title Ms. when corresponding with women, followed by their first name: Ms. Jane Smith. This is perfectly correct, and while it is also correct to address women, whether married or widowed, as Mrs. Daniel Smith, and while some women prefer to be addressed as Mrs. (followed by their own first name or their husband’s name), using Ms. with the recipient’s first name is often the simplest form of address.


Our baby is turning one next month and I’d like to send a birthday party announcement to distant friends and family. What would be the proper wording?


Sending a birthday party announcement gives the appearance that you are expecting a present in return. Instead of announcing your baby’s birthday, write a simple, newsy note over the next few months, and enclose a photo, if you wish, or send an email with a few lines of news, with a photo attached.


Questions for Catherine? Send them to michaels.catherine@yahoo.com