Politely Dealing With Nosey Questions


At one time or another we have all had to fend off a nosey person asking prying and personal questions. So often these questions take us by surprise and it’s difficult to think of how to reply. Sometimes we answer the question only to be angry at being pressured into divulging our personal information. Here’s some tips on dealing with those questions.

Ward off the question before it’s asked

I have found that curiosity gets the best of people and they will say, “I know I shouldn’t ask this question” or “Do you mind if I ask you a question.” A red flag should go up as soon as you hear this because you know it’s going to be prying. Before they have a chance to ask it reply, “If you know you shouldn’t ask it then you probably shouldn’t.”

Give vague answers

Don’t give them the information they want. Use a short phrase to reply such as “I can’t/don’t remember” or “nothing” or “I really can’t answer that.” For example, when someone answers how much you weight, simply answer “enough.”

Use humor

Laugh at what they ask and make light of the question. “If I told you I’d have to kill you.” Or, “You ask the silliest questions, I can’t answer that.”

Blame it on mother

“My mother told me never to talk about...”

Change the subject

Pause, then change the subject paying absolutely no attention to what they asked. 

If necessary be direct

There are some people that have to be dealt with in a more direct way. You may say, “I don’t talk about...” or “That’s a personal question that I care not to answer.”

Ask them why they need to know

Find out why they need to know your personal business. Ask, “Why in the world would you ever ask me that?”

Politely get the point across

My favourite way of telling people that they are prying is, “If you forgive me for not answering, I’ll forgive you for asking.”

You should never feel obligated or pressured to answer a personal or prying question. Learn to handle prying questions in a gracious and polite way.

Etiquette Rules At The Royal Ascot


It’s been a few years since I’ve been to the Royal Ascot outside of London. I remember back then receiving a letter months before the event with my ticket, badge and dress code for the Royal Enclosure. It outlined in detail what was permissible in the Royal Enclosure; the length for hemlines, no bare arms, no revealing clothes, etc. The Royal Enclosure is the area that the British royalty have their box and it has the strictest dress code. At the Royal Ascot there are different dress codes depending on the ticket type.

This year the Royal Ascot tightened up its dress code, and has produced a very tasteful video on what is appropriate attire. There has been a stir about fascinators and the new rule is that hats worn inside the Royal Enclosure must have a 4 inch base. Fascinators can be worn in the Grandstand area.  This year the ascot will enforce the strict dress code with fashion police.

While the ascot is about horse racing, the outfits and hats frequently outshine the horses. Ascot’s Ladies Day is known for the most fabulous hats you’ll find on the face of the earth.   While most are beautiful creations, there are always a few tacky novelty hats worn by attention seekers. This year was no exception with a postage stamp hat and an Olympic torch.

Cafe Boulud Lunch with Jacqueline Whitmore


Over the years I have met and developed lasting friendships with many in this profession. Recently I had the pleasure to meet and lunch with Jacqueline Whitmore of the Protocol School of Palm Beach. Jacqueline is a leading authority in our profession and has published two books;  Poised For Success and Business Class

We met at Café Boulud in the Brazilian Court, which is one of my favorite restaurants in Palm Beach. Café Boulud is the creation of internationally acclaimed chef  Daniel Boulud. Since it was a beautiful Palm Beach day we decided to dine outside on the terrace.

We both ordered the Artic Char which was sumptuous. At a restaurant of this calibre you would expect be presented with a fish knife and fish fork, but we were also given with a French sauce spoon which is rarely seen in North American restaurants. The French sauce spoon is a spoon that is usually the size and shape of a dessert spoon, but with a thinner edge with a notch on one side. It is used to eat the sauce accompanying a dish.  If you have ever eaten at any of Daniel Boulud's restaurants you will know why you would not want to leave any sauce on the plate. We ended our luncheon with warm madeleines.

It was a most enjoyable afternoon spending time with Jacqueline, sharing our stories and a few laughs. I look forward to the next time.

Happy New Year Mar-a-Lago Style

Pat-Stonehouse-Mar-a Lago

One of my favorite places to celebrate New Years Eve is Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club.  Theevening starts with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres outside on the loggia.  Watching the guests arrive is like having a front row seat at New York's Fashion Week.  After everyone has overindulged in caviar, fois gras and other delectables the party moves to the grand ballroom for dinner and dancing.  This year the band was Party on the Moon, who played at President Obama's inaugural dinner.  Palm Beachers love to dance and the floor was packed in between the four course meal that ended with Baked Alaska.

Best wishes for 2012,