Dear Carson: A former high school classmate came to town recently on business. She was with a group of co-workers attending a business-related workshop. We had one chance for a real one-on-one visit to catch up and that was for dinner in a restaurant the night before she was to leave.
Five minutes after we sat down and were looking over our menus, one of her friends approached our table and asked if she might join us rather than sit with the rest of their group. Frankly, I think she could see that it didn't suit us, because there was a long pause and we didn't enthusiastically encourage her to sit down. However, she just kept standing there with a foolish grin on her face until we said OK.
My friend and I felt annoyed, because there were a lot of private things we wanted to discuss. With her friend there, we had to keep explaining what we were talking about and of course, didn't get to catch up on other topics.
Is there anything we could have done in a polite way to avoid having her intrude on our visit? Irritated at Interloper
Dear Irritated: Yes, there certainly is something you could have done. The words we actually speak have only 7 percent of communication impact while visual communication and voice tone have 55 percent and 38 percent respectively.
This woman was getting her needs met at your expense. With a pleasant smile on your face and a warm, kind tone of voice just say, "Sorry, but not this time. We have a lot of catching up to do."
Dear Carson: My ex-husband, who is the father of my children, is in critical condition with terminal cancer. He is hospitalized in a nearby city. I would like to pay him a visit. Do you think that such an action on my part is out of order or inappropriate in any way? - Concerned but Cautious
Dear Concerned: It is perfectly all right for you to visit if you check first to see if he is well enough to see you. However, you should refrain from any talk that might be upsetting to him in his present, precarious condition.
Dear Carson: I hesitate to even write you this letter because it has to do with the juvenile tone of some thank-you notes written to my husband and me by visiting boyfriends of our daughters. They contain little reference to the actual visits but contain remarks such as, "How are you? I am fine."
These are grown men who have been in the work force for at least five or six years. Please address pointers for writing such notes. - Appears too Picky
Dear Picky: As I'm sure you'll agree, it is better to receive a poor thank-you note than no thank-you note at all. However, when writing notes of the bread-and-butter variety one should mention certain facets of a visit, which you particularly enjoyed or compliments, on the attractiveness of the hosts' home or the warmth of their hospitality.
This sounds more genuine than the stilted and dutiful rhetoric of the notes that you described. Such is true for a note of thanks for a gift, where you would elaborate on how you plan to use the gift, where you have placed it and of how appreciative you are to have received it.
Ask Carson a question about etiquette by calling INFOLINE at 442-4444 and pressing 4422. Or Write to Ask Carson, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928. Email may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org