Dear Miss Manners: More than once, I have heard the advice that it is a good idea to keep in touch with former bosses and professors in case a recommendation is needed in the future.
Social media was invented for this purpose, but Miss Manners finds it no less awkward — or more desirable when it comes to staying connected. Lines get easily blurred between friends, acquaintances and business associates, and most updates are of interest only to one out of three — if that many.
Business versions of social media are an option, but the truth is that most bosses and professors have come to expect recommendation requests. And a straightforward transaction with no pretense of an ongoing relationship will probably be welcomed.
It is best simply to contact them when needed, including a thorough reminder of your relationship and résumé, so that they may easily reference these in their recommendations. Then thank them for their efforts with an actual letter — and also by not annoying them with constant updates afterward.
Dear Miss Manners: I like to send congratulatory cards with checks to my nieces and nephews for their high school or college graduations. In the past couple of years, I have mailed a check or gift card (or, in one case, handed a check to a relative) but never received any thank-you, or even an acknowledgment that they were received.
Now one of my nieces is getting married; she's the one I handed the check to when she got her master's degree last year. When I did so, she looked at me but didn't say anything. "That's a strange reaction," I thought at the time.
Now I don't feel like putting forth any effort to acknowledge her wedding or send her anything. Am I being unreasonable?
This has happened to me a few times, so I don't think it's a one-off. In fact, I sent gift baskets to all my siblings for Christmas this year and I got a thank-you from only three of the five siblings. Is this the new normal?
If it is, it is not conducive to putting forth more effort, as you say.
(As an aside, Miss Manners will utter only one excuse on behalf of your niece, who may not have known what to do with the check at the time, as she was in the middle of her graduation. Once she recovered her wits, however, she should, of course, have acknowledged it, as should all of the others. But your having failed to procure instant thanks — the one thing that would have justified giving the gift to her in person — is further justification for why presents should be mailed to celebrants, not handed over in person.)
Now back to our program — and the fact that you were clearly and unequivocally wronged. No one would blame you for ceasing your generous practices altogether for those relatives who are clearly unappreciative.
New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.
2021, by Judith Martin