Ask the Expert

Pam has built her career studying and working with individuals and businesses on what the proper etiquette is for any chosen occasion or event. Now she is here to answer your most pressing question. So, don't be afraid, there is no bad question....well, we'll let Pam decide.

When a woman introduces herself during a business encounter, should she use her marital status during that announcement? For example, “Hello, my name is Mrs. Jane Doe.” Also, how do I address a woman if I don’t know her marital status?

Great questions!  The answer to your first question is NO.  A woman should not introduce herself using her marital status.  It appears just as inappropriate as it would be for a man to announce himself as “Mr. John Doe.” Titles should be used by others, rather than by the person introducing themselves.

The answer to your second question, how to address a female if you don’t know her marital status, is to use “Ms.” pronounced “Miz.” It’s an inclusive term that covers both married and single women.  However, if you do know the marital status, Miss or Mrs. is appropriate.

During a business meal, I am always confused about where to place my napkin when I temporarily leave the table.

When temporarily leaving the table, NEVER put the napkin on the table.  If you do, you have used a silent service code indicating that that you are finished with your meal.  Don’t be surprised if your plate is gone when you return! The most appropriate place to put your napkin is on the arm or back of the chair.  However, at the conclusion of the meal (and after everyone else at the table has finished) the napkin is placed on the table to the left of your plate.

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