Perhaps it is our nature, but people present the side of the story that they think will elicit the greatest sympathy from me, not only failing to report the whole story, but also exaggerating and even fabricating details.
I can find myself in awkward situations, trying to hold people accountable for things that they didn’t necessarily do, or feeling skepticism rise in me instead of listening wholeheartedly.
How can I politely inquire of people, “What are you not telling me?” Not that I can’t do my own investigation, but I wish people realized that I am not called to take sides in disputes.
It is indeed our nature, but fortunately you have asked Miss Manners how to get at the truth politely, not how to reform the tendency of people to embellish their complaints.
The solution rests in your expressed desire to listen wholeheartedly. When Mason complains that Madison took his stapler and yelled at him, encourage him to tell his story and listen to what he says. Most people’s exaggerations are a casual play for sympathy, not a scripted or well-rehearsed attempt to deceive.
Three minutes in, Mason is more likely than not to confess that last week he took Madison’s mouse pad without asking, thus saving you the trouble of an extended investigation.Coordinated cufflinks?
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I frequently wear black tie for various events — I’m a choral singer where black tie is standard performance dress — and I also have a fairly large cufflink collection from my travels. When wearing black tie, must one wear the cufflinks matching the shirt studs, or is one free to choose whatever cufflinks one likes?
With many gentlemen taking horrid, unwarranted liberties with evening dress, Miss Manners hesitates to say, “Oh, go for it.” Why adult males believe it “creative” to dress as if they are attending the middle school prom, with their turtleneck shirts, pallbearers’ long black ties and gaudy cummerbunds, she cannot imagine.
But she is all the more happy to tell you that no, your cufflinks need not match your shirt studs.Money is a fair topic in business
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When interviewing for a job, is it considered bad manners to ask how much the job pays? Ironically, it is not bad manners for the employer to ask how much you have earned in your previous jobs.
Do you see a problem with this practice? Isn’t the real question how much are both parties willing to agree upon in the business relationship?
Your tone suggests a certain impatience with Miss Manners, who is forced to point out in her own defense that her only action, thus far, has been to read a letter addressed to her.
Who says that it is bad manners to ask how much a job pays? Certainly not Miss Manners. Bans about discussing money in personal situations do not apply in the business world.
© Universal Uclick 9/18