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Miss Manners: Tips for making a trip with in-laws pleasant

Judith Martin And Nicholas Ivor Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My parents are taking my husband and me on an island vacation this summer. We haven’t always had the best relationship, although things have been going well for some time now.

Could you provide tips on how to vacation with in-laws, what to remember and what to avoid, that might help contribute to the creation of a memorable experience for all?

GENTLE READER: It is all too easy to have a memorable experience when vacationing with relatives with whom you have not always gotten along. Miss Manners would have thought your goal was the opposite.

The answer to your question is: relentless good manners. That would bar any complaints, in favor of showing appreciation of this opportunity. Oh, and don’t talk politics.

That may be counterintuitive in an age that considers rudeness relaxing and therefore appropriate to a vacation. It might also help to preserve time for separate activities.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is there a polite way to get away from boring people?

GENTLE READER: There are many, but application depends on context.

The person at a cocktail party can be escaped with a simple, “Excuse me.” The person on your left at a dinner party can – after a decent interval – be dismissed by attending to the person on your right.

For spouses and relatives, Miss Manners cautions that lasting solutions lie outside etiquette.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: How should I respond when a supervisor at work apologizes for being cranky?

It is nice they apologized because they were cranky. However, I feel acknowledging they were cranky could be an insult to them, and simply saying “thank you” might not work toward my career goals.

GENTLE READER: Illogical as such behavior would be on the part of your supervisor, Miss Manners recognizes you may be right. The trick is to downplay the impact of the behavior without denying its existence: “That’s kind of you to apologize, but please, don’t worry about it.”

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