A divisive manager: What to do?

I work in a department of four, plus my boss. She is a “divider,” telling untruths about us to each other so we are always at odds. Can I confront her about this?

It’s never a good idea to confront your boss about her management style. It won’t change a thing, and will likely put you at the top of her hit list. It’s better to discuss this privately with your colleagues so they know you weren’t complaining about them and that you are wondering if they were complaining about you.

Use an example: “Jean told me you said I was slacking off on my reports. Is this true?” If you all understand what she’s doing, you can at least ignore her efforts to separate you, achieve harmony among yourselves and prevent further misunderstandings until you find other jobs, assuming the conditions in the department remain intolerable.

When someone arrives at a dinner party with a wrapped hostess gift, should I open it then or just set it aside?

If it is a private moment and you aren’t in the middle of a roomful of other people, by all means open it when it’s given so you can thank your guest personally and he or she has the pleasure of seeing your reaction. If there are others around and the moment is not right, you can say thank you and set the gift aside to open later. If this is the case, you then would send a thank-you note acknowledging the gift, even though the gift is a thank you to you for the dinner party.

This may sound silly, but I never know when I should put a napkin in my lap at someone’s home or in a restaurant. Then, I never know what to do with it when the meal is over. Are there guidelines?

You put your napkin in your lap right after you are seated at the table at a restaurant. The same is usually true at someone’s home, although it is customary to wait until the hostess has been seated and has put her napkin in her lap. You don’t shake it out first, and you never tuck it into your shirt or top. Use both hands to unfold it, gently, and then place it in your lap. When you are ready to leave the table, you place the napkin, in loose folds, back at your place setting. You don’t refold it into a rectangle or square.

Is it wrong to register for wedding gifts that go toward our honeymoon costs?

No, it isn’t wrong, although it isn’t common yet so most people aren’t used to the idea of this kind of a registry. You would register either with the destination spot or with a travel agent, and tell family and close friends so that when they are asked they can guide guests to that registry as well as to the retail sites where you have registered.

Questions for Catherine? Send them to [email protected]

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