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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Accept a compliment without undermining it

By Judith Martin and Nicholas Ivor Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: How best can a hostess graciously accept compliments on her cooking?

When people remark on a particular dish or baked good, I find myself saying “Thank you,” and then adding a disclaimer (i.e., “It was an easy recipe”). I feel uncomfortable simply saying “Thank you” without anything else, but perhaps this is the most polite response and I need to become accustomed to giving it. What should one add, if anything?

GENTLE READER: A winning smile. Miss Manners recognizes, without understanding, that most people find it difficult to accept a compliment with good grace. But she urges you to consider that attempts to convince the guest that your cooking is not worthy of compliment are neither flattering, appetizing, nor, she trusts, convincing.


DEAR MISS MANNERS: My spouse and I enjoy completely different types of music. Her music puts me in a horrible mood.

It usually isn’t a problem, because our house has enough room for me to get away from it. However, when we drive in her car, she insists on playing her music: “It’s my car, and I’ll listen to what I want to.”

When we drive in my car, I ask her what she wants to listen to, hoping that we can agree on the same XM channel, which usually happens.

What are the rules on car radio etiquette? Is she right? Does the owner and driver of the car get to choose the music?

When it’s a short trip for an errand, I can handle it. A long trip is torture. I thought about wearing earplugs. Yes, she does like a high volume with a little singing, too. No, she doesn’t sing very well.

She said that she’ll follow your rules of the road.

GENTLE READER: How about the rules of marriage, starting with Don’t Torture Your Spouse?

Being in the driver’s seat, literally or figuratively, does not relieve one of the need to consider the comfort of others, Miss Manners assures you. On the contrary, it confers the obligation to do so. The system your wife cites – might makes right – is what civilization was invented to overturn.


DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a workmate who posted his wife’s baby shower invitation on the refrigerator door in the break room. He has not mentioned anything about it to anyone or given out private invitations.

Are we obligated to respond or buy a gift, or even RSVP, since little to no effort was really put forth on their part for inviting colleagues? I’m fairly put off, as I find this tacky and very impersonal. I just find this as someone looking to get as much as they can in any form with no other thought put into it.

GENTLE READER: Posting an invitation in the break room is not the same as issuing a formal invitation. Miss Manners gives you permission to ignore it so long as your workmate does not bring it to your attention. If he does, you will have to respond, mumbling that you didn’t realize you were included, left your glasses at home and took lunch out all week.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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