DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it good manners that my employer showers us employees with recognition for going above and beyond the call to carry out the company’s mission during this time of historic challenges, but never recognizes the toll that this yearlong crisis has taken on the home front – for couples, for their children, for employees with parents in nursing homes, and much else that has brought pain in our personal lives?
Moreover, after the events of Jan. 6, we only heard more about sales volumes and serving customers – not one mention that there had been an unprecedented attempt to topple our democracy. Was that good manners?
GENTLE READER: Would you have your employer start a new riot by taking a side in this politically charged situation?
No one was fooled by the loads of retailers who expressed their “personal” sympathy when COVID struck. It was a way to get their names into our inboxes – and solicit sympathy for their own situation. And many an institution was called out in the past year for inconsistent messaging between what they said publicly and the biased systems in which they privately participated.
Acknowledging hardships is certainly kind, if it is genuine. But Miss Manners feels you would agree that those sympathies would be better channeled into practical remedies – in the form of better practices, wages and health care for all of the company’s employees.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I work in a large building and have adjoining offices with a new employee. She has a rather annoying habit: She sneezes about three or four times a day.
At first, I would say “bless you” every time I heard her sneeze. But after about the third month, I went to her and asked if she would mind if I didn’t acknowledge her sneeze with a blessing every time. She told me she had allergies, and that she’d had trouble adjusting to our high altitude; she did, however, say she wouldn’t mind if I stopped blessing her.
Last week, I sneezed, and I heard her call from the other office, “Bless you!” Now I am wondering if I need to rethink my position. It seems like such a strange thing to say, anyway; are there etiquette limits on how many times a day you must bless someone?
GENTLE READER: Perhaps you can compromise. One “bless you” per day, with subsequent ones implied.
Whether you work this out in advance or go with your instinct on any given day, Miss Manners does not much care. Neither, it seems, does your co-worker. However, should you repeat any wayward bodily outbursts of your own, one hopes that you will be gracious about any spontaneous decisions made in the moment.
Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website missmanners.com.
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