Readers offer views on matters of e-mail, non-English talkers
The Arizona Daily Star
June 28, 2005
Opinion by Peter Post
Since the launch of Etiquette at Work, readers have peppered Peter Post with questions, from what to do about co-workers who clip their nails at their desks to who picks up the tab for a business lunch or dinner. As it turns out, Post isn't the only one with opinions on workplace etiquette. This week, he takes a break from answering questions to let readers sound off. Back to questions and answers next week.
G.P. of Boston asked for advice about how to deal with a co-worker who constantly sends e-mails with certain words and sentences in all caps and/or bold lettering. Post advised her to check with other colleagues to see if their e-mails from the person were laced with capitals and bold letters.
If G.P. was the only one receiving such e-mails, Post suggested that she talk to the co-worker to be sure there's no problem between them. If others in the office were receiving similar e-mails, then Post advised having a manager speak with the offending e-mailer.
"As for the co-worker who receives e-mail with certain words and sentences in all caps and bold print, another explanation may be that the person sending it wants to emphasize certain points. I've been retired for many years, but I would not conclude that the sender thinks I'm being shouted at unless I'd had previous run-ins with that person.
"From a personal point of view, I prefer bold print because it's easier to read: If anyone has a sight problem, bold type really stands out."
A.C., Chelsea, Mass.
E.J. of Westwood, Mass., inquired about the etiquette regarding speaking one's non-English native language at work. Two co-workers in an open floor-plan area were having private conversations in a different language. Because he didn't speak the language, E.J. found this distracting and excluding but wasn't sure if it was a breach of business courtesy.
Post advised that E.J., instead of asking his co-workers to speak English, simply request that they move to another area if they want to have a personal conversation, so he could concentrate on his work. This way, it's all about being considerate rather than an issue of language.
"I agree partially with your response to the guy who was complaining about his co-workers speaking in Russian. Private conversations should be conducted in another area. Perhaps this guy could ask his co-workers to teach him some Russian words or simple phrases. Yes and no in Russian can't be too hard. Not knowing other languages is why Americans have a bad image abroad.
"This guy should be thankful that he can hear. I'm deaf and can't learn any languages. Tell him not to be such a fusspot!"
R.W., Foxborough, Mass.
● Peter Post is a director of the Emily Post Institute and wrote the New York Times best seller "Essential Manners for Men: What to Do, When to Do it and Why" (HarperResource, 2003). He is one of Emily Post's four great-grandchildren.