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No One's Obligated To Recommend A Colleague

By Thelma Domenici
For the Journal
          Dear Thelma: I recently set up a LinkedIn account for business contacts. I soon received a request from a business acquaintance to post a recommendation of him on his LinkedIn page. I am not at all comfortable with this. I know this person only marginally and really don't have any knowledge of him that would make for a genuine recommendation.
        Not knowing him all that well, I also wouldn't want to have a recommendation come back to haunt me with my own clients or colleagues who may know him better than I do and may not feel positively about him. What are my obligations here?
        A: Your obligation is to be honest, yet gentle. Respond that you don't feel qualified to offer a substantive recommendation and that you must decline. Keep it direct, yet light and open to future relationship building. That is all that is required.
        To those who seek professional recommendations on LinkedIn, be selective. Don't send out a blanket e-mail for recommendations to everyone to whom you're connected. Instead think carefully about who knows the quality of your work and reputation and ask those people.
        When you do ask, use a personal appeal rather than the form letter e-mail generated by LinkedIn. Mention in your personal messages the reasons you're seeking recommendations from these particular people so they know without a doubt they aren't receiving a mass appeal.
        LinkedIn can be a great networking tool. Use the manners of face-to-face networking to enhance the technological variety.
        Dear Thelma: I had a wedding gift engraved and the name ended up being misspelled. I had no idea that it was wrong. The bride gave me another dish exactly like mine and asked that I get it engraved with the correct spelling, which she gave to me. The engraving was very expensive. Should I have agreed to do this the second time?
        A: First, let's talk about engraving. If you are going to have something engraved, you must be absolutely certain that you supply the correct information and that it is spelled correctly. It is your responsibility as the giver to double-check all your information, which probably means calling and asking the receiver or someone very close to her to verify the information.
        When you receive the item back from the engraver, you also have the responsibility of checking the item for accuracy before you give it.
        If you initially gave the engraver the wrong spelling, the mistake was yours and you should pay for the new engraving. If the mistake was the engraver's, then the engraver should cover the cost of the new engraving.
        Dear Thelma: When I go to a restaurant by myself I often find that if I leave my table to use the restroom, when I get back the table has been bused before I'm done eating or even have paid. I've had newspapers and books tossed away along with the meal. What's a polite way to inform waitstaff that I plan to return to the table momentarily?
        A: Get the attention of your server or another in the area and tell him directly that you are dining alone and indicate the table at which you are seated. Tell him that you'll be gone momentarily and wanted to let him know that you will be returning to your meal and to your belongings. Your server will appreciate the information and should keep everything in place for you.
        Like a friendly and direct approach, good manners never go out of style.
        Have a question about etiquette? You can ask it at www.askthelma.com. Thelma Domenici is CEO of Thelma Domenici & Associates, offering corporate coaching and contemporary social skills development programs to all ages.

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