DEAR MISS MANNERS – I was treated rudely by a friend at a social function and told her that I felt her manners were sorely lacking. My friend replied that telling someone that they are rude is, in itself, an act of rudeness, making me, rather than her, the perpetrator of bad behavior in this situation!
By that definition, wouldn’t her telling me that I’d been rude make her rude as well?
We’ve long since gotten past the initial offense that caused this situation, but are now mired in a standoff over who is guilty of rude behavior.
Does commenting on rudeness to someone who commits an offending act constitute an act of rudeness within itself? We’ll anxiously await your final decision.
GENTLE READER – Then would you stop dueling? Or are you having too much fun?
Either one of you could have handled this politely. You could have said, at the first offense, “My dear, I’m sure you didn’t mean to shove me on your way to the buffet table” (or whatever crime she committed). But Miss Manners is afraid that you baldly announced, as you do in your letter, that her “manners were sorely lacking.”
If you did deliver that rude reprimand, your friend could have said, “I’m so terribly sorry. Of course I didn’t mean it, just as I know you don’t mean to be rude and scold me.”
But apparently she resorted to the “You’re another” defense. Miss Manners calls it a draw.
DEAR MISS MANNERS – I’m a compounding pharmacist (making custom medications “from scratch”; our pharmacy specializes in hormone replacement), and many of our clients tell me that I’m skilled at explaining their therapy (how much to use, what kind of symptoms to watch for, etc.).
They’re so impressed that they tell their friends, who then, often without getting a prescription, call and want me to spend work-time discussing their symptoms – at length.
I don’t want to upset them – they need help, and also might be potential clients – but my boss is paying me to mix and explain prescriptions, not to chat. How might I gently dissuade those who seek free advice on my boss’s time?
GENTLE READER – The advice you must dispense to such callers will help you, as well as them. It will save you not only time, but ethical distress.
Miss Manners would think that explaining the proper use of medications with your clients is one thing, and having medical discussions with strangers who tell you their symptoms over the telephone is quite another.
The quick and helpful advice she recommends, therefore, is “Ask your doctor.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS – I wonder if there exists terminology to distinguish the following:
1. a sister-in-law who is my brother’s wife
2. a sister-in-law who is my husband’s sister
3. a sister-in-law who is my husband’s brother’s sister.
Miss Manners would surely know how to refer to these individuals simply and clearly!
GENTLE READER – Of course.
1. “My brother’s wife.”
2. “My husband’s sister.”
3. “My husband’s sister” – unless you meant to write “My husband’s brother’s wife,” in which case it would be “My husband’s brother’s wife.”
Miss Manners is happy to be of help.
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