Dear Carson: What is the proper way to handle a situation in which I am conversing with someone and a third party approaches with a loud greeting to the person with whom I'm talking and proceeds to monopolize the conversation, ending the one I was engaged in.
I usually stand quietly by, feeling as though I'm the third wheel. I think it is rude on the part of both people, the person who is interrupting and the person who allows it.
If someone is speaking to me and another interrupts, I give a quick acknowledgement and then place my hand on the new party's arm, while moving aside to include them. However, I quickly redirect my attention to the speaker. Do I excuse myself and leave, smile and stand quietly or make a comment about finishing our conversation another time? - Handling Interruptions
Dear Interruptions: You have handled yourself graciously in situations in which an interrupter has wanted to speak to you. In the case you mentioned, try placing your hand on the interrupter's arm and saying, "Excuse me, I just want to finish my point." Yours is a pet peeve that bothers a great many people.
Dear Carson: As mother of the groom, I am unsure what color dress to wear. The bride's mother will wear a long, pinkish-beige dress that matches the pink in the bride's dress. The wedding colors are cream, pale pink and sage green for the guys' tuxes. - Muddled MOG
Dear MOG: The mothers of the bride and the groom need not coordinate their dress colors with the general color scheme. The protocol is for the mother of the groom to ask the mother of the bride what her dress color will be so that their colors won't clash.
Dear Carson: What is the proper response at work when co-workers discuss their marital problems? I find this embarrassing, and I have no idea why this very personal information is being shared with me, or how to respond.
Now, I simply leave the area when someone begins sharing information that should be discussed only with a therapist or marriage counselor. - Overwhelmed Co-worker
Dear Overwhelmed: The highly personal subject matter is indeed inappropriate, but unless the talk is obscene, insulting or sexist, I don't think there is anything you can do about it.
Dear Carson: I work in insurance, and our office inadvertently paid off the wrong loan. Two existing loans were recorded against a property. The problem was with the loan in second position. When the payoff statement was ordered, we inadvertently paid off a loan on the property of our client's ex-wife!
Needless to say, our client and his realty agent are very upset. What is your advice as to a proper apology to the seller and his agent? It is not a good situation, and I think that closure is most important. - Honest to Goodness Goof Up
Dear Goof Up: Write a sincereapology and offer some sort of material amends. I suggest something like a lower rate, a month or two without carrying charges, a weekend getaway (all expenses paid) or dinner for two at a fine restaurant. This type of atonement would be a wise investment in good customer relations.