DEAR MISS MANNERS: I often attend live performances at the end of which the performers will acknowledge people in the audience. When someone on the stage announces an audience member by name, there is usually polite applause.
What is the proper response for the audience member whose name is announced? Should he or she stand? Remain seated? Thank the performer with a nod of the head or wave of the hand? Acknowledge the other folks in the audience? Is it considered rude to NOT stand?
I have seen a great deal of reactions ranging from jumping out of chairs to arm-waving and blowing of air-kisses to embarrassed smiles and nods to seat mates. How SHOULD one react politely in that situation?
GENTLE READER: In reverse of the usual consequences of uncertain behavior, the people who look embarrassed and uncertain about what to do are the ones who are the most charming. Miss Manners hates to spoil anyone's natural tendency in that direction by announcing that it is the proper thing to do.
Jumping up and waving at the audience shows far too much enthusiasm for credit. Even on-stage performers are supposed to bow humbly to receive their applause. A member of the audience should turn and half-rise with a shy smile, waving only if there is a sustained and tumultuous ovation that requires that signal before it will abate.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am employed by a small firm that provides professional services. Consistent with the norm for my profession, a portion of my compensation arrives in the form of occasional bonuses, the existence, timing, and amount of which rest in the sole discretion of the firm's partners.
All of my colleagues at the firm understand that their base salaries are comparatively low to reflect the fact that they will participate, through bonuses, in the expected financial success of the firm.
I have just been chided by one of the firm's partners for my lapse in failing to thank him for a mid-year bonus. I certainly felt silent gratitude, but had been taught that an employee should not insult the dignity of service by thanking his employer for each compensation of office. To my understanding, this includes bonuses, which are fundamentally compensation, albeit contingent and arbitrary. Of course, one still must thank one's employer for courtesies beyond compensation, such as granting a vacation request for a particular date, or permitting one to leave early for errands.
I offered this rationale to my miffed employer. He warned me that I had relied upon "bad advice" in this regard, and if such a rule ever existed it is antiquated and no longer has any basis.
Have I erred? I cannot bear to think so.
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners cannot bear the notion that the grace notes of politeness should be ripped from the ordinary transactions of life that can be reasonably expected. By that reasoning, no one should ever praise you for a job well done, because that is what you are being paid to do.
Absolutely, you should thank them when they grant the requests you list. What does it cost you?