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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners 11/25

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a lawyer in Washington, D.C., and I just completed a relatively prestigious yearlong fellowship/clerkship. I have had two job interviews thus far, and both times, I was surprised to find the interviewers wearing T-shirts, whereas I was wearing a suit.

Is it normal to wear T-shirts for interviews and meetings during the pandemic? It seems almost disrespectfully informal to me. Am I old-fashioned and behind the times?

GENTLE READER: After European monarchies discovered the New World – but before they realized that people already lived there, or that those people had dignity and rights – there was a massive land grab as each country tried to annex as much territory as possible.

The pandemic has caused a similar, and equally unjustifiable, etiquette grab.

The logic runs thus: Universal work-from-home is uncharted territory. Therefore, old etiquette does not apply. Therefore, I can conduct business meetings in my pajamas.

You will not be surprised to hear that Miss Manners disagrees. If you feel silly wearing a shirt and tie in your kitchen, remind yourself how silly the representative of a serious enterprise should feel conducting interviews in a T-shirt. And then keep doing what you are doing. Just because the person who has the power to award the job is wearing gym clothes does not mean that he will not feel disrespected if you do the same.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A former supervisor introduced me to her friend, Entrepreneurial Emily, who was developing a product with my company in mind. Emily and I had a nice lunch, where I made it clear there was not an appetite or budget for her product for the foreseeable future. I also pointed her in the direction of resources to continue her product development.

Emily has continued to reach out to me every few months, and every time, I politely tell her there is simply no demand for her product in my company. She uses my personal email, as that was how we were introduced, so she permanently has my contact information.

I want to put a stop to any of Emily’s future solicitations, and do not want to hand her off to anyone else, as I feel my former supervisor did to me. How can I politely end this less-than-friends friendship?

GENTLE READER: You do not have to end any friendships, because the only friendship Miss Manners sees is between Emily and your former supervisor. Your relationship with Emily was a professional obligation. (And even your supervisor, who presumably likes Emily, would likely acknowledge that that obligation was discharged by the lunch.)

It is time to cut her loose, which in this case means ceasing to answer any further communications.

Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website

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