DEAR MISS MANNERS: I know someone who is in the late stages of a terminal illness. This person received one of those colorful, lovely animated email greeting cards from a close family member. The e-card wished the “Best new year” for the coming year.
The recipient was shocked that someone would send such a thing. Even if it was the result of a thoughtless failure to edit a mass-mailing list, it seems a horrible breach of manners. The recipient was very hurt and said so. What do you think, Miss Manners?
GENTLE READER: That mass mailings do no one any good.
The failure to consider the feelings of the recipient is stunning in this instance, Miss Manners agrees. But even in ordinary cases, it must be obvious this has to do with checking off a list, not greeting individuals.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am an American who lives permanently in an English-speaking country where the local accent is much different. I don’t mind being asked where I’m from, as it’s always a friendly question, but I am fed up with being told some variant of, “Oh, you still sound American.”
Yes, this is how I speak, and I guarantee that any attempt on my part to mimic the locals’ way of speech would be met with derision and scorn. Please, I beg you (in my best natural accent), provide me with an appropriate response.
GENTLE READER: “Thank you.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I recently did business for the first time with some very nice people. There was a bit of a mix-up, and to make things right, they offered to take me out to dinner.
After dinner, one of them enthusiastically said something like, “We are going to be great friends!”
I had only been acquainted with these people for three days, and they live across the country and rarely visit this area. Furthermore, I know that they are hoping to leave the door open for future business with me, which would benefit them financially (albeit by a very small sum).
In fact, I would love to be friends with them, as they are simply enchanting and very well-respected. However, I felt that they could not possibly be serious about this, so I simply said something like, “How nice of you!” They picked up on it and joked that I didn’t want to be their friend.
I guess I am being too cold. Maybe a person with better social skills would have said, “Yes, we’ll be great friends!” with the understanding that everyone involved knew this to be untrue. Right?
GENTLE READER: So you would like to be friends with these people, but are pre-emptively squashing it by suspecting their motives? Miss Manners congratulates you on successfully closing that door.
Had it not occurred to you that with modern technology, you would be able to communicate easily in the future – and should either party happen to be in the other’s city in the future, you could have enjoyed another pleasant outing? Not to mention the business aspect that could have been mutually beneficial.
Everyone, please stop subscribing motives to innocuous statements and being “completely honest.”
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.
© Universal Uclick 1/2