When taking the high road in life, the view is always better. Here, our Ms. Modern Manners Sharon Schweitzer, J.D. of Access to Culture, helps to demysty current social issues so that we may elevate our understanding.

Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

In social situations, I am in a quandary of whether to shake hands or give a quick peck hello. How do I determine which is most appropriate?

Kiss Or Tell?

Dear Kiss, Don’t Tell,

In a social context, it will depend on the situation and group culture. Greetings can be situational. If it’s a more international crowd in the U.S., respond to a greeting in a way comfortable for you that may include a kiss on the cheek or a hug. If you are in the southwestern U.S., hugs and air kisses are common. If you’re traveling outside the U.S., adopt the local customs and observe greetings made by others. Know the comfort level of those around you, and choose the greeting appropriate for the occasion.

In the U.S. business, a warm handshake is the best professional greeting. Only when it is a cultural fit should you go for the quick, friendly side-hug with someone you have previously met. Avoid any potential contact which could be construed as inappropriate behavior, which could include being too touchy with prolonged hugs, kisses on the cheeks, or casual touching of the arm or back that could make others uncomfortable. You don’t know your coworkers’ boundaries, so don’t risk crossing a line.


Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

Is it ever okay to ghost? Even after just one date?

Casper the Friendly Ghost

Dear Ghosted,

Ghosting is not only disrespectful to both parties, but it reflects a lack of self respect. Whether you are emailing, texting, calling, or on a dating site, it is best to send a simple acknowledgement that you aren’t interested in pursuing anything further or that there just wasn’t a connection. If you are feeling particularly gracious, wish them luck in their future endeavors. Social graces don’t require you to do anything else. You may un-match or stop communicating at that point without ghosting.


Dear Ms. Modern Manners,

We just learned that we will be making regular 17-hour flights to the UAE for business. How can we stay sane and survive these flights if there are children in the business and first-class cabins?

Off To The Middle East

Dear Dubai-Bound,

Just the thought of travel in a sealed steel tube at 30K feet raises the blood pressure for most. Numerous surveys reveal that the top air travel annoyance is “OPK” or other people’s kids. Especially the seat-kicking, misbehaving ones who are behind you. The modern advice for travelers is to come prepared with an inexpensive favorite kid’s book or toy.

When you discover that a child is seated near you, ask the parent if you may give them the book or toy. The idea is to befriend them early on so they are less inclined to act out and interrupt you during the flight. Always ask the parent first if it’s okay to give their child the toy or book. Some travelers bring fruit snacks and ask parents if this is permissible. Many parents disregard home rules regarding screen time and snacks during a flight.