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    Miss Conduct

    Limiting LinkedIn

    Not overdoing it online. Plus, strong perfume and what “you shouldn’t have” really means.

    Lucy Truman

    > What to do when someone you barely worked with and/or would not necessarily enthusiastically endorse asks you to write a recommendation for their LinkedIn profile? This specter of time-sucking, disingenuous tasks makes me want to run away from LinkedIn.

    Katemc / Miss Conduct’s Blog

    No wonder people want you to write recommendations for them. “Time-sucking, disingenuous tasks’’ is good, very good. Vivid word choice!

    You must decline, firmly and cheerfully. Or you must ignore these requests until your silence itself becomes the obvious answer. What you must not do is run away from LinkedIn. I say this not as a great booster of LinkedIn — my own profile is sadly inadequate, with lacunas suggesting a Don Draper-like mystery in my past. But LinkedIn itself isn’t the point — whether it’s that, Facebook, text messaging, Twitter, or whatever tomorrow brings, modern technology is about 24-hour accessibility. You can become a kind of cyberspace agoraphobe, staying away from time-sucking sites and applications that allow anyone to ping you. Or you can venture out and get comfortable being just a little bit ruthless about demands on your time and attention.


    LinkedIn may not be for you — nobody Links In and blogs and tweets and Facebooks and pins and Tumbls equally. But you should decide how you want to manage your online presence based on your own priorities and desires. Don’t let other people make that decision for you. In a world of 24/7 access, we all need to learn how to say, and hear, “No’’ more easily.

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    > How does one respond to colleagues who say “You shouldn’t have’’ when you give them a small gift as a thank you, get well, or going away present?

    B.W. / Reading

    You say this: “Of course we ‘had to.’ What kind of terrible people wouldn’t [reward a job well done/bring a sick person a plant/honor your long years of service]? Now say ‘Thank you’ and [open your present/get well/let’s all go out for a drink]!’’

    Got it? People who say “You shouldn’t have” feel uncomfortable being the center of attention. So you give Wally Wallflower a gentle shake to remind him that, comfortable or not, he is the center of attention on account of his brilliant job on the Macguffin account or his broken leg or imminent retirement, and the rest of you are responding appropriately. Then you feed him his next line (“Thank you!’’), just like a stage manager would.



    > How do you suggest dealing with a person with whom you must work closely whose perfume makes you feel ill? 

    S.L. / Pembroke

    Etiquette states that one does not wear strong scents in public. This is something of an unfunded mandate on the part of “Etiquette’’ when you stop to think of it. Who would choose to wear an overpowering scent? People overdose on perfume because they don’t smell how much they do smell.

    Even if your colleague is dousing herself in skunk juice, phrase your request in terms of your own idiosyncrasies. “This is awful for me to have to ask, but I tend toward headaches — your scent is lovely, but I’m starting to realize I might be allergic to it.’’

     Miss Conduct is Robin Abrahams, a writer with a PhD in psychology.

    NEED MISS CONDUCT’S HELP?Write to her at And read her blog at