DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a landlord in a suburb. As a thank-you for extending the rent due date, one of my tenants gave me a gift of homemade sausage. I was so stunned that I accepted it without asking any questions. It now just sits in my freezer, untouched. Am I allowed to prod my tenant about the contents of this present? I normally wouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth; however, I think this situation would allow me to bend the etiquette rules. — Lonely Links, Near PittsburghDEAR LONELY LINKS: One way to ask about the sausage without seeming rude is to express your true curiosity. Strike up a conversation with your tenant and ask about the whole process. Making sausage at home is not something that is commonly done these days. Ask about the process and the selection of ingredients. Certainly you can ask what type of sausage you were given. This shouldn't be so unusual a question, given that today there are so many variations on sausages in the regular grocery store that who knows what a creative cook might make?
Your attitude going into this conversation is what will make all the difference as it relates to the way your tenant reacts. Be open and interested rather than skeptical and worried. This is an opportunity for the two of you to get to know each other better — bonding around food.
Know that you will be asked if you have consumed the sausage yet. Be honest and say that you haven't. Admit that you wanted to learn about the sausage before cooking it because you wanted to savor the sausage with the full story of how it was made in mind. If, after you learn about the way it was made, you decide you don't want to eat it, do not say that to your tenant. This is where a little white lie might be better. Or perhaps you can share it with a friend who would enjoy it. Then you can say you did that, and it was a big hit!DEAR HARRIETTE: My manager at work has just requested to add me on social media accounts. My accounts are private, and I use these for communication with friends. My manager has asked me why I haven't accepted her, and I lied and said I hadn't seen the requests. Should I bite the bullet and allow her to follow me? I don't enjoy curbing myself on social media. — New Eyes, Syracuse, New York
DEAR NEW EYES: Check your employee manual to see if there are written guidelines for opening up your social media to your boss. Some businesses require staff to allow them to see their various social media outlets.
If there is nothing requiring you to share with your manager, you may want to kindly say that you don't like to mix business with your personal life, so you would rather not connect with her on social media.
Just know that whatever you put out there, whether the account is private or not, is public information. You should not write, photograph or post anything that would be in conflict with the values of your business. Believe it or not, such an act could easily cost you your job. For example, teachers have been fired for sharing vacation photos where they held alcoholic beverages in their hands. Magazine editors have been fired for posting racially charged content that disparaged their audience. Job applicants have been passed over because of rants on social media. In today's world, nothing is truly private. This doesn't mean that you have to be friends with your boss online. It does mean that you should expect that she will see what you post, even if you do not show it to her.
Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or C/O Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.