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Miss Manners: ‘Good morning’ sparks workplace manners duel

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin Andrews McMeel Syndication

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A co-worker called me out because I do not respond to her “good morning” greeting by saying “good morning” as well, although I do acknowledge her greeting. I was more than a little upset with her stance that I was responding inappropriately, because she takes the attitude that she is always right about such things.

However, this same pillar of politeness speaks with her mouth full of food – often. It’s frankly annoying and disgusting. And neither of us is a youngster; we are both well older than 50 and should know better.

How can I (politely) point out her lack of manners? I’m a little uncomfortable stating, “Imogene, please stop talking with your mouth full.”

GENTLE READER: Interesting that while you objected to this co-worker correcting your manners, you are enlisting Miss Manners to help you to do the same. She is more than happy to do so, she just wants some acknowledgment of the duplicity.

“I am so sorry that I caught you while you were eating. I will come back at a more convenient time” is a polite way to ask her to finish her food before talking.

Not for nothing, “good morning” can reasonably be expected to be responded to in kind.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it appropriate for a bride to dictate her bridesmaids’ shoe color (e.g. requiring all bridesmaids wear silver shoes)? I’ve read wedding etiquette articles that suggest bridesmaids are responsible for buying their own attire of the bride’s choosing, but I’m not sure whether or not this includes footwear.

GENTLE READER: It should not, but seeing as brides also like to dictate hairstyles, makeup and the visibility of any tattoos or piercings, Miss Manners is sure that they feel entitled to mandate this expensive detail, as well. She suggests that you rally your fellow bridesmaids to offer the bride a choice from the range of shoe colors that are already in your closets.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am in a situation where I live out of the country part of the time. It is pretty homogeneous here in this other country, and I do not look like them. It is pretty obvious that I am a foreigner because of my race, height, language, etc.

When I am walking, people will just stop and stare, take photos, videos, point, try to touch me, reach for my hair, you name it. I try to ignore it or turn away from the photos. Is there another way to address this without using words? There is a language barrier, also.

GENTLE READER: Short of wearing a hat with a low brim and sunglasses (which will probably attract even more attention, as onlookers will assume you are a celebrity), your only choice seems to be to use words. Miss Manners advises you to learn how to say “no, thank you” in the appropriate foreign language. If you are living in another country part-time, surely these words will not go to waste.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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