General Etiquette > All In A Day's Work

Shoes on or off to stand on a host company's chair?

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Oh Joy:
I was preparing to give a talk at another organization earlier this week.  We were in a meeting room with the lightly upholstered stackable chairs.  I was in a position where I almost needed to stand on a chair for a moment to reach something.  I found a workaround, but have been wondering on or off?

Was dressed in a trouser suit with socks and pumps.  Shoes on would have put my winter shoes and heel on their fabric, but slipping shoes off is partially undressing and would have put my all-day socks on their fabric.  Not a big deal, but - assuming it were unavoidable - which is the lesser of the evils?

Thank you!

I would have slipped my shoes off to stand on an upholstered chair.  But it would also be because of praticality of not standing on a chair in heels. I'd feel more stable in socks.

I also would have taken my shoes off - and have done so, though I can't remember having to in a very formal situation. Both because of the stability issue and because it's easier to brush off probably non-existent sock germs than shoe dirt.

I would also be thinking more along the lines of practicality/safety than etiquette, first. Standing on a chair to reach something, how would I feel safest? If I could go either way (shoes on or off) I would probably leave my shoes on unless they were crusted with mud or something--not because I think the socks are dirtier, but just because it's less work to leave my shoes on my feet. I've brushed numerous dusty footprints off chair seats in the past and it doesn't bother me.

In someone else's home I would ask them first, but with some underlying assumptions. Like, if my options are either climb on something in high heels or my bare feet, and my host thinks bare feet are gross... I'm not climbing up to do whatever. I'm not climbing in high heels, because I am clumsy. Safety first.

When I have to stand on a chair at work, I kick off my shoes if it's feasible. I figure both my shoes and socks are probably "germy" if it comes down to that, but my socks have less actual particulate dirt that might damage the chair, plus I've got better balance in my sock feet than in a lot of women's dress shoes. Plus a shoe heel might even, theoretically, poke a hole in some types of chairs.


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