DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a graduate student working towards a Ph.D. in a scientific field. Graduate school is often very disheartening.
What should a girl say when, during a meeting with her adviser, she starts crying out of frustration over her project? I know that crying, especially at work, is a quick way to get labeled as a wuss, especially by male superiors.
Unfortunately, I have always naturally expressed frustration this way, and sometimes, no matter what I do, I can’t seem to prevent it.
GENTLE READER: Crying once or twice out of frustration can happen – and a simple apology is all that is needed, accompanied by as little explanation as possible.
But if tears are your continual response to discontent in the professional world, your co-workers might have just cause in labeling you fragile, regardless of gender-based stereotypes. If you simply cannot contain your tears, Miss Manners suggests that you develop an allergy upon which to blame them. Or look into an alternate field.
The former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives had the same problem, but, as many have remarked, the job gave him cause.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My fiance and I have developed a reputation among our group of friends for being good hosts. Generally, we enjoy having friends for overnight visits if they need a place to stay.
But we had a friend ask to stay while she was back in the country (she had been in school overseas). We picked her up at the airport, and after about an hour at our apartment, she announced that she was going to go out drinking with her friends! We were not invited. She said she would be gone for a couple of hours, but instead came back in the morning, once we had already woken up and worried about where she was.
We gave her a bit of a hard time, but then left for the day once she went to sleep on the sofa. The following night, she stayed out all night again. We expressed that we felt hurt that she hadn’t made spending time with us (her hosts) a priority.
She seemed weakly apologetic, and promised that she would make it up to us by spending more time with us when she comes back through (at our house, likely drinking our wine and eating our food).
She is traveling more, but will be coming back through in a couple of weeks. The plan was for her to stay with us again for another few days. Given her behavior and the fact that we feel used and disappointed, is there any way that we can rescind the invitation?
GENTLE READER: Yes, but these are special circumstances.
To be clear, Miss Manners almost never advocates rescinding invitations, but she will help you if you promise that you and other readers won’t take it as license to do so without similar provocation.
“You were so busy when you were here that I’m afraid we likewise made other plans during your visit,” you may say. “Perhaps you could stay at one of your other friends’ homes – or we can recommend some good hotels.” If she understands the subtext, protests and apologizes sufficiently, you may rescind the rescind if you choose. But if you are fooled again, you will know never to extend another invitation.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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