When Thanks Are Implied But Not Delivered, Vol. 15, Issue 12

Dear Etiquetteer: I did a favor for someone which involved some effort on my part, but which I did willingly and with no thought of any repayment or gift.  I received an e-mail from this person a few weeks ago saying he wanted to send me something and asking for my home address.  Now, several weeks later, nothing has arrived.  I don't care about the gift (in fact, I'm embarrassed by it), and I don't care if the person has procrastinated (my own failing) or forgotten.  But I'd feel bad if something was lost in the mail.  My inclination is to not say anything, but then the person might be waiting for some thanks from me or comment on the gift (if in fact it was a gift and not just a thank you card).  Should I say anything?

Dear Expectant:

A specific query could inspire Wholesome Feelings of Guilt in your Debtor in Favors, resulting in Glorious Tribute or at least a Lovely Note. But Etiquetteer is inclined, as the old saying goes, to "let sleeping dogs lie." Procrastinators* often continue procrastinating regardless of the clues and hints lobbed at them. While sensitive to your own wish not to appear ungrateful or neglectful, Etiquetteer advises that you continue to interact with this person just a bit more than you usually do, but without mentioning this issue. For instance, if you talk on the phone once a month, you might now talk on the phone every three weeks; if you email once daily, you might email twice daily. This will give your Debtor in Favors more opportunities either to ask you if you received your Glorious Tribute, or foster Wholesome Feelings of Guilt about not having done anything for you yet - which Etiquetteer hopes will result in Action.


*Etiquetteer is constantly Wagging an Admonitory Digit at That Mr. Dimmick Who Thinks He Knows So Much.

Diplomatic Protocol and Nude Statuary, Vol. 15, Issue 8

And they say "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." The press has been full of stories about the state visits of the President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, to Italy and France and the cultural differences that need to be cultivated. In Rome, nude statues at the Capitoline Museum were concealed from view by white boxes to prevent the possibility of offense. In France, President Rouhani declined an invitation to a luncheon at the Elysée Palace because wine would be served; alcohol is forbidden in Islam.

The Italian government is certainly taking a drubbing from its own citizens over concealing these Robust Manifestations of Italian Culture. Etiquetteer is more forgiving, knowing that on such diplomatic occasions as state visits, avoiding embarrassment is essential to successfully managing a relationship between Two Distinct Nations. The purpose of a state visit is for one nation to show hospitality to another. This is difficult to do when a custom or tradition of the host nation gives offense, for whatever reason, to the guest nation. While selecting a press conference location with no nude statues to begin with would have been Less Troublesome, Etiquetteer can't fault the Italians for acting with an Excess of Caution. Certainly they had only the best intentions.

But Etiquetteer wishes that President Rouhani had shown more understanding in the case of the French luncheon. While a request for a halal menu was entirely Perfectly Proper, Etiquetteer would have wished for the Iranians to have accommodated consumption of the French National Beverage by those whose belief systems allowed, even though theirs did not. As a precedent, one must consider the state dinner given by President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy on July 11, 1961, for the President of Pakistan, Ayub Khan, and his daughter. While wines were offered with dinner for those who wished them, the menu was prepared without alcohol of any kind.

The fine line between not offering offense to honored guests and maintaining one's own customs and traditions is trod not only between nations, but also between families celebrating a marriage, companies conducting mergers, and home owner associations homogenizing aesthetics. Have you had such experiences? Do you anticipate them now? Etiquetteer would like to hear your queries at queries <at> etiquetteer.com.