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Ask Sue
A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem

Business Card Etiquette

Dear Sue: In a meeting, is it appropriate to give out business cards at the beginning or the end of a meeting? 

- Wondering

Sue Says: Business cards should be given out at the beginning of a meeting. There are two reasons for this practice -- doing it up front ensures it won't be forgotten, and having the card in front of you will help you remember the names of the people you are meeting with. Consider placing it in front of you for the duration of the meeting.

A business card is an extension of the person who gives it to you, so when you are handed one, treat it tenderly. Take some time to look at the card you are being given and make sure the card you give out is in good condition.

Dear Sue: My boss was given a "leave or be fired" ultimatum. He decided to leave and presented his departure as "his choice." I was second in command and thought about pursuing his position, but I was extremely upset about the way he was treated, and I've always felt very loyal to him. Shortly after he announced he was leaving, I announced my resignation as well. I felt it was the loyal and right thing to do.

My decision to leave was meant to be a statement to the company. I disagreed with many of the changes that were taking place and have always had the highest regard for this man.

My boss is a proven leader, levelheaded and had the undying loyalty and respect of his entire business unit. He was unfairly blamed for many problems that were out of his control, and had received a number of complaints.

I was honest about my reasons for leaving. The company tried to convince me to stay, but once it was apparent to them that I wouldn't change my mind, I was advised not to discuss the real reason for my departure with anyone else. I do not regret my decision, but remain upset about the way things were handled.

I am wondering how I should have presented my reasons for leaving and if being honest and forthright was the best approach. I feel good about my loyalty toward my boss, but why does business choose to "give the ax" to leaders, with no feeling of loyalty? 

- Disillusioned

Sue Says: You did what you needed to do and what felt right at the time. You made a statement to yourself and others about your values. I am a believer in being up front and honest. Why should you hide the truth? Who would you be protecting?

Don't spend too much time seeking the approval of others or second-guessing yourself. Your actions are admirable and highly unusual -- therefore, most people are unable to relate to what you did.

I don't have the answer to your question, but am willing to throw it out to any of you who are reading this: Why does business choose to "give the ax" to leaders, with no feeling of loyalty? I'd like to hear from you and will print your responses in a future column.

Dear Sue: I have been with my present employer for 20 years. I've decided to look for something closer to home and to give myself a fresh start.

I am not sure what to say when I will be asked why I am leaving. The reason is that it is time to do something different and more challenging. 

- Leaving

Sue Says: The reason you have given me is a good enough reason to give to anyone! No one expects you to stay with the same job forever. After 20 years with one employer it's no wonder you are ready to do something different! I hope you find what you are looking for.

Dear Sue: I am over fifty and am wondering if I can reenter the market in the information age. There is a ton of work out there and even dummies are making a decent wage. Why not me? 

- No dummy

Sue Says: You can do whatever you want if you want it bad enough. Develop the necessary skills, fulfill a need and you are on your way. Your age doesn't have to be a barrier -- let your skills do the talking.

Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She is author of the newly released 101 Tips for Graduates and How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at or visit her web site at

Send Sue your questions by clicking here: Ask Sue
For more Ask Sue articles, click here.

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