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Miss Manners: Standing up for others, while keeping your job

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter and I disagree on a very touchy subject. She thinks that it is appropriate to call someone out on something that they have said that is racist or bigoted in any situation. I feel that there is about one time in 20 where it is not appropriate.

I think that if you are at a social event with co-workers and your boss says something in this manner, you should turn and walk away. She says that I am not standing up for others who are different. She thinks it’s worth losing your job over. Who is doing the correct thing in this situation?

GENTLE READER: Gone, thankfully, are the days of saying “that’s just the way he is” as an excuse, or of shrugging about a boss’s being “old school.”

However, Miss Manners is not unsympathetic to people who need the work – and there is a time and a place to fight one’s battles. But if one is willing to quit a job, it behooves that person to quit in a responsible way that gets the point across, but is also professional.

“I am afraid that we do not see eye-to-eye on several issues, so I think it best that I leave the company. I hope that you will make your next employee – no matter what their race, religion or sexual orientation – feel welcome.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I sent out invitations for a small party, quite some time in advance, and received prompt RSVPs declaring that almost everyone would attend. In the week leading up to the party, almost everyone has revoked their RSVP, for various entirely plausible reasons.

Of the 15 or so who agreed to come, only three now intend to grace me with their presence. Those who are no longer attending are chums of mine of various stripes.

I am confident that I am not being shunned for any reason, and I don’t want to stir things up by holding a grudge. However, I do not know how to politely respond to suggestions that they “swing by at the end” without seeming passive-aggressive. My instinct says I should tell them not to bother, as I will feel embarrassed if they show up and find such a small crowd – or, worse, everyone already gone. But this feels rather like rescinding the invitation, which I do not want to do.

GENTLE READER: Just because your guests have issued themselves new invitations does not mean that you have to honor them. Your party was for a certain time. Sadly, if they cannot make it, that is their misfortune.

Miss Manners cautions you that allowing them to show up “whenever” would be rewarding bad behavior, however well-intentioned, and virtually ensuring that it continues.

Try saying pleasantly, “Oh, I am afraid that we might not be going that late. But I am sure that we will have another party one day and will try harder to suit your schedule.”

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com.


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