DEAR MISS MANNERS: As the assistant for one of the executives at my company, I routinely answer his phone with, Good morning/afternoon, this is John Does office. I even have a note on the phone reminding me to smile before picking up, because I know that people can tell the difference (strange, but true).
By JUDITH MARTIN
One caller, an executive in a different department, will respond to my greeting with JOHN in an impatient tone. This always seems to surprise and fluster me, at which point he will say, John NOW. Put John on the phone. No one else, either within the company or calling from elsewhere, is ever this rude to me.
I go an extra step to be pleasant to anyone who calls before I even know who is on the other end of the line. Perhaps if this was a one-time occurrence, I wouldnt be asking for your advice. However, each and every time this other executive calls my boss, he acts like this. Ive been responding, Sorry? But I would rather have another note next to my phone giving me a pointer on how to respond to him.
If he continues to act rudely to me, then Ill consider bringing this up with my boss. However, I do hope that I can deal with this on my own in both a professional and ladylike way.
GENTLE READER: Say pleasantly, Im sorry, but we seem to have a bad connection. I only heard John and now. What is it that I can do for you?
You may repeat this as needed if his replies get shorter and ruder, but if this exasperates him to the point of an all-out explosion, Miss Manners assures you that there is no shame in telling your boss. This is professional information that he would likely want to know.
Words for the dying
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is there something appropriate to be said to a relative or friend who is ill and obviously close to dying?
GENTLE READER: I love you. Miss Manners considers it a vast improvement over the patently false command, Get well.
Praise for toddlers who arent as cute
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My toddler son is cute incredibly cute.
The kind of cute that makes people point him out to friends in crowded stores, that makes total strangers give him their snack foods, that makes people follow us around asking, What movie have I seen him in?
The problem is when parents of other children come up to me and tell me how cute he is. For me to simply say Thank you always seems to me to imply, I have nothing nice to say about your child in return. But the fact is, across a crowded bus, you notice that a child is cute. But you cant notice that a child is artistic, musical, well-spoken or talented in myriad other ways. What is the proper response to such a compliment?
GENTLE READER: Responding to Your child is cute with Your child looks otherwise talented is tantamount to saying that he is unattractive a free insult when none is warranted. Miss Manners assures you that Thank you, yours too is perfectly true. Most parents believe that their child is adorable and no one wants to hear an honest comparison to yours.
© Universal Uclick 12/6
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com, or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.