Home Nonprofit organization Miss Manners: How can I respond to greetings with rude undertones?

Miss Manners: How can I respond to greetings with rude undertones?


Dear Miss Manners: How do you react when you bump into a friend you haven’t seen in about a year, and the first thing the friend says is, “Where have you been? You haven’t been here for ages! »

The tone of voice suggests I’m hiding and being antisocial, when in fact the friend hasn’t reached out to me either during this time. It puts me on the defensive to explain why I haven’t been in contact with them.

I also experienced this in a non-profit organization where I have volunteered for years, helping when my schedule allows. A few people who regularly spend time there greet me by saying, “Oh, are you here to help today?”

Of course, they know I’m here to volunteer, and their mean tone suggests they’ve almost forgotten about me. In the meantime, I’ve been with the organization longer than them and even helped train them! I don’t know how to respond to such remarks.

Although such greetings are naturally off-putting, Miss Manners notes that they gain nothing at reception when they seem to slip from the addressee without effect. That means responding with “Oh, you know me – busy, busy, busy!” or “Where have you been hiding? It’s been a really long time” will depend on how much time and effort you want to invest.

Dear Miss Manners: Since when did it become acceptable for a guest who comes and stays with you not to tell you the day of their arrival and the day of their departure?

This happens constantly with a relative of mine. Yes, we told her and her husband several times that we needed specific dates. We thought we licked it this last time, because she told us on Tuesday that they would arrive on Friday. That gave us a day and a half’s notice. But when they got here, they wouldn’t tell us when they were leaving. I was only able to convince them to tell us the day before they left.

My mum is 90 and has to plan all the meals etc when they visit. I did the cleaning, which is difficult because I also work full time. They never complimented the house, the kitchen, or the little things my mother did to make their visit enjoyable.

When did it go well? My mom won’t let me near them to make it crystal clear because she thinks I’m being rude.

Your mother does don’t think you’re being rude, my dear. She thinks you mean to be rude, and she’s right to stop you, if only until you slow down enough to allow there to be more than 36 hours between Tuesday and Friday.

Hosts can set dates in advance: “Please come Friday and stay until Monday.” It was never polite for a guest to show up unannounced or to stay out of an invitation, but that was never a justification for rudely demanding a departure date.

Miss Manners also wonders who was at fault in this case, if your mother is, as she appears to be, the hostess and possibly also the owner of the establishment.

New Miss Manners columns are published Monday to Saturday at washingtonpost.com/board. You can send questions to Miss Manners on her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.