Jodi Blackwood is an etiquette trainer in Vancouver, USA, and we often exchange thoughts.
We both found the answers tricky to a question like “What are you doing on Friday?” One does not want to say “it depends on what you had in mind”. If you say that you are free and then find out what the other one wants, it is quite hard to come up with a quick excuse why you suddenly don’t have time, after all.

If you issue invitations in this manner, you may want to re-think your question. It is probably not your intention to put people in an uncomfortable position or “on-guard”. ?Here is a great example for an invitation: “I have tickets for the basketball game on Friday night. Are you available to go?” ?This says right up front your reason for asking, and then allows the other person to respond in an honest manner, without any hesitation.

For those who are faced with the question “What are you doing on _______?” a safe response is always “I will have to check my calendar; what do you have in mind?”

If the plan is for something you have no interest in, you may find you have “other plans at that time” … Even if those plans are a quiet evening at home.


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What People are Saying

I learn a lot about etiquette from your newsletters.
– Nina

Adeodata, Good to know! I personally hate a limp handed shake but didn’t realize it may be considered a sign of respect for Asians. It is just so difficult sometimes to shake a hand that just “hangs there and doesn’t seem responsive”. I personally have a firm handshake, but really wince when somebody squeezes my hand so hard it hurts. You think they either don’t know their own strength, or are trying to impress you in some way?
– Barbara Onyskow
WFIM Chair
Women in Food Industry Management

Thanks for the email! My father always told me when I shake a man’s hand look him in the eyes and have a firm grip on the shake. When shaking a ladies hand, also look her in the eyes but be gentle with your hand shake.
– Rick Hurst
Sysco Vancouver

I always love reading your newsletters.
– Gloria