Philip Galanes on "Social Q's"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Philip Galanes, author of the “Social Q’s” advice column for the Sunday Styles section of The New York Times, confronts today’s most awkward and pressing questions. He steers people through the treacherous terrain of modern etiquette, offering advise on how to deal with a range of situations: what to do if your dates drop you as soon as they meet your very attractive roommate to how to tell your mother-in-law to overshare on Facebook to whether it’s rude to knit at meetings. Social Q's: How to Survive the Quirks, Quandaries and Quagmires of Today is his new guide on how to navigate these and many other situations.

Do you need help with an awkward situation? Leave your question for Philip Galanes below, and he’ll address a few when he’s here on November 10 at noon!


Philip Galanes

Comments [14]

Caroline Schimmel from Greenwich, CT

Why not donate the too-bit painting to your favorite charity?

Nov. 10 2011 12:36 PM
Rosario from New York

My friend returned a birthday gift that I gave her saying she doesn't need it. I gave her an expensive blouse from Brooks Brothers but I got it on a sale. She's used to wearing very expensive clothes so I thought it's because my gift is not that pricey for her taste. I avoided contact with her for 2 years after letters that we exchanged back and forth about my being insulted. She recently emailed me again setting up a dinner date. Should I go and resume our friendship?

Nov. 10 2011 12:28 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I thought Mr. Galanes was going to say that in the digital age, you have to worry that someone will post pictures of what you did at the office party!

Nov. 10 2011 12:18 PM
The Truth from Becky

There are numerous elevator faux pas' - why are men so creepy on the elevator?

Nov. 10 2011 12:15 PM
John from Chatham

a lady notices her man 'noticing' another lady in a public place...
time for;
or what?

Nov. 10 2011 12:12 PM
Judith Mandrel from Wycoff

I have a friend and colleague; we are both teachers. She has suddenly stopped wearing a bra at work. She doesn't have a big bosom but her clothing really makes it obvious that she isn't wearing one. How can I tell her that I really think her choice is making people uncomfortable without hurting her feelings.

Nov. 10 2011 12:12 PM
Elizabeth Hayward from Upper East Side

Dear Philip,
My ex-husband's wife of 10 yrs. has invited my husband (of 10 years) and me to Thanksgiving Dinner. My 3 sons will be there (we do every other year) and this is "their" year. I despise this meddling woman. Do I have to go to "make nice?" We live 4 hrs away and I think my adult sons "don't care" because 60 relatives attend and it is chaotic to say the least. Should I just wait to see my sons at Christmas as scheduled??
I read your column first every Sunday!

Nov. 10 2011 12:10 PM
Dan from Midtown

I don't know how to dance the roommate Rhumba.

I just moved in with a flatmate who has a very different social calender than I do.

How do you broach the subject of a respectful living agreement without coming across as a curmudgeon?

Nov. 10 2011 10:24 AM
Jane from Ohio

I have a neighbor who regularly asks me to pick up their mail, newspapers, feed pets, etc when they travel (maybe 4 or 5 times a year). I do everything religiously, real girl-scout style.

I ask her to reciprocate and she always gladly agrees to help, but I invariably find that she either doesn't do what I've asked, or only does it the day before we return. I can't tell you how many plants I've lost and have found when we have returned a day early, that none of the mail was picked up, etc...

I suspect she won't change her ways and I'd just as soon hire someone to take care of our needs when we're gone, but then how do I get out of doing favors for her? I also suspect that she'll continue to ask me for favors (she's too cheap to pay anyone).

I don't want to alienate her, she is, after all, my neighbor.

Thanks! Jane

Nov. 09 2011 09:32 PM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

Strange synchronicity between today's Philip and yesterday's....

I was at a performance of Kooyanisquatsi at the State Theatre in New Brunswick where Mr. Glass led his orchestra in the soundtrack. I was there with my wife and her brother and am a giant fans of Mr. Glass's work and the movie and thus felt honored to be there.
About 20 minutes after the performance started, a couple came in the auditorium and sat behind us and nearly immediately started smooching heavily and LOUDLY.

When they weren't smooching the younger of the two women for whom this was obviously her first time seeing the film would begin to (out loud) tell her date what the items were. "What is that? Traffic?" or "Twinkies!". We finally got them to move away from other viewers so we could enjoy the experience more completely but why can't I let the experience go?

Nov. 09 2011 03:35 PM
Jack from Sunnyside

I work in an office space with a lot of cubicles but not many workers. I tend to work best in relative silence, and so I get bothered by a colleague’s practice of making a lot of personal phone calls during work (this doesn’t affect his performance and his work is actually well respected by our boss). Another colleague also has a habit of self grooming at his cubicle – the kind of thing I think is more appropriate as private behavior. I haven’t been too bothered by these practices because there are so many empty cubicles between the employees, but we are changing offices soon. How do I ask my boss not to put me in a cubicle next to these colleagues without sounding petty or as though I’m personally attacking them?

Nov. 09 2011 03:09 PM
Carolyn from Colorado Springs

If you are invited to play a game with some friends, and it turns out you are much better at it than the others, do you deliberately play poorly?
(My friend from New York told me about this program.)

Nov. 09 2011 06:19 AM
anonymous from new york

How do I negotiate extreme tension between my boss and her boss on a daily basis in a small office without taking sides and getting involved?

Nov. 03 2011 01:21 PM
Rachel from New Jersey

I have the WORST dilemma! My friend Mike is cheating on his live-in girlfriend with another girl and it's been going on 5 years!! Now he proposed to the live-in girlfriend but he's still leading this double life. I'm friends with his live-in and I want to warn her NOT to marry him and tell that I've known all this time...but Mike was my friend first before his girlfriend. Should I send her an anonymous note?

--Plagued and guilty for 5 long years

Nov. 02 2011 06:58 PM

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