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Don’t respond in kind to rude remarks

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a young and healthy 16-year-old. Over the last few months my family and I attended a lot of family events that involved seeing long-distance relatives. My sister and I found ourselves in an awkward position when greeting relatives who would say how skinny we are. I know that it is intended to be a compliment, but how does one respond to something like that?

I feel like saying “thank you” would have been agreeing with them, which seems rude. How should I have responded to this in a ladylike manner?

GENTLE READER: Why grown-ups think it is acceptable to assess young people’s growth when they would be horrified if the young made such remarks to them, Miss Manners cannot imagine. Nevertheless, you do have to handle this graciously and not comment on their figures in return. You could say, “Well, yes, we’re active teenagers.” Do not – repeat, not – add “duh.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: It was my boyfriend’s birthday dinner. I was running late, so I served a chicken bake, which is easy to prepare, 25 minutes in the oven. He took a couple bites and, as all of us sat there eating, he said he didn’t like it.

I was embarrassed, to say the least. If it were just he and I at the table, I wouldn’t have had my feelings hurt as much. Am I wrong to think a person is rude to voice an opinion as he did?

GENTLE READER: Yes, he was rude. If you refrained from dumping the chicken bake on his head, Miss Manners declares you a model of politeness.


 

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