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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners 10/6

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I follow a specific diet that I don’t believe should be of any interest to co-workers or clients whom I sometimes must meet at restaurants.

I always order at least a tea or a carbonated water because I owe the restaurant for my seat, and I may order a salad. I may or may not eat or drink anything I’ve ordered; I’m there to give information to clients, answer questions or motivate my staff.

Sometimes, I get inquiries such as, “Aren’t you hungry?” to which I answer, “I ate not too long ago.” Or, “Why don’t you drink your tea?” to which I answer, “I thought I wanted it, but I’m feeling a bit warm.”

I really believe the majority of the people meeting with me care more about why we’re meeting than what I’m eating. However, my No. 2 suggests that eating and drinking at these meetings is important because it mirrors other people’s body language.

My thought is that displaying body language that is welcoming and enthusiastic is sufficient. Also, I present myself to staff and clients as one who is disciplined, works hard and keeps her word.

Part of how I present that is a commitment to exercise and health. So I figure they would likely see these restaurant habits as in keeping with what I preach. Am I being rude in some way? Everyone else at the table is welcome to order anything they like.

GENTLE READER: You attended events in which you could not fully participate. You did not draw attention to why you were unable to participate. You did your best to disguise your discomfort. And you refrained from lecturing others about their own tastes.

Miss Manners can find little fault with your behavior. But she also understands the point made by your No. 2, which is subtle and dependent on your position as No. 1, i.e. the Boss.

The location for client meetings may be beyond your control. But avoiding food when you are the host is apt to attract attention even if such attention does not rise to the level of, “What does she know that we don’t?” For those events, why not choose a different place or activity?

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website missmanners.com.

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