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Didi’s Manners & Etiquette: Why Women Don’t Ask for Help + Engagement Party Etiquette

Thursday, March 05, 2015


Asking For Help

A well-liked and respected friend ran for a local state seat in her district and had quite a respectable victory. In the past mid-term election, however, even though she was not challenged in the primaries, she lost that seat to the opposing political party. We all assumed the representative would keep her seat, because she was doing a fantastic job, getting lots of positive feed-back, and appeared to have a healthy amount of backing in terms of volunteers and contributions. Two weeks out from the election I felt her opponent was getting more attention and tried to talk to her. We were all shocked when she lost the election. If she had asked her friends for help, she would have won because early on we would have found her a campaign manager. Why don't women ask for help? How can we encourage them to do so? 

~E.P., Rhode Island

Honestly, women in general are remarkably reluctant about asking for help, because they fear it will jeopardize relationships. Your friend may have felt that her cadre of supporters and friends had done enough and didn't feel she could impose on them further. Any woman brave enough to run for a political office -- more than likely -- takes pride in being a problem solver and thinks that asking for help is a sign of personal weakness and an admission of failure.

Knowing when to ask for help is about managing your time and your career. The quicker and easier the problem is solved the sooner you can happily move forward. She may be an excellent public policy maker, but not so good at promoting herself.

Personally, I don't believe asking friends and family for help diminishes what we are good at doing when we admit we are not good at something else. In this case, running her own campaign. It takes a certain amount of inner strength to admit one's weaknesses. Tell your friend that strong and spirited women ask for support from others in order to maximize their power. Remind her next time she runs to find her own strength in asking for help from not just her friends, but from her political party affiliate.

No doubt, if she had reached out ahead of time to political pundits in her party, they would have stepped in and found her a campaign manager.

In asking for help, encourage her not to be fearful of rejection, or to be scared of appearing incapable or weak -- or dread being a bother or burden. Help her to understand that her greatest fear may have been that of losing control. Learning to ask for help -- without hesitation -- would be an asset to her career. A helpful skill to have when she needs it.

A quick recent story. A graduate student at a prestigious university asked the dean why so many male graduate students were teaching their own courses and most women students were assigned as assistants. Point blank, she was told by the dean, "More men ask. The women just don't ask."

If your friend is driven by passion, she will persevere for as long as it takes to reclaim her seat as a representative -- but only when she learns to ask for help. 


Who Makes The Engagement Toast

A good man friend of ours is giving a catered cocktail-buffet engagement party for our daughter and her fiancé at his house. The groom's father is deceased and he doesn't have a brother, step-father or grandfather to make a toast. Does my husband make the toast? What is the protocol? 

~L.S., Long Island, NY

Traditionally, before the age of communication, the purpose of the engagement party was to announce a daughter's upcoming marriage while introducing the two families and the wedding couple's friends to one another.

More recently, the engagement party is hosted by whoever wishes to host a party celebrating the engagement. The groom's family, both families jointly or a friend.

The two fathers would toast the merging of the two families and welcome guests to have a good time and thank them for coming. In return, guests sent engagement presents from the bridal registry.

Fast forward, protocol still sets the code of conduct that someone welcomes the guests and thanks them for coming before suggesting that everyone raises their glasses to toast the wedding couple.

In your case, your friend the host would be thanked at that time.  Alternatively, your friend the host could make the first toast welcoming and thanking guests to such a special occasion in his home, or your husband could simply toast the wedding couple on their engagement, thank the host for hosting and the guests for attending.

A thoroughly modern solution would be to have the wedding couple make the first toast thanking the host and guests. For instance the groom with his bride by his side would say, "Vanessa  joins me in welcoming you tonight and we would like you all to, please, raise your glasses to toast our amazing host ...."

Lastly, don't forget to assign someone to make sure that awesome photographs are taken of your daughter's engagement party. 


Do you have a dilemma about love, family and life in general for Didi? Go ahead and "Ask Didi."  If your Question is used, we can withhold your name and/or location. 


Related Slideshow: Top 5 Best U.S. Cities For A Destination Wedding On A Budget

Portland ranks No.1 on a list of the five best U.S. cities for a destination wedding on a budget, chosen by Cheapism.com. See what other cities made the list. 

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