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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Miss Manners 7/27

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

DEAR MISS MANNERS: If I email a nonurgent, work-related question to my manager, how many business days are generally appropriate before I should expect to receive a response?

GENTLE READER: As many as your manager feels are needed.

Miss Manners says this in all earnestness – but not because she recognizes that employees are seldom in a position to discipline their bosses for misbehavior.

Your work activities are done at the behest of your manager: Your work is their work. One assumes that the delivery of that work will, at some point, be delayed if no answer is forthcoming, but the decision to allow such a delay is the manager’s.

This is not, it should be understood, an invitation to watch deadlines expire without further action on your part. One of the joys of being an employee is that you will occasionally have to nag your boss.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A friend of 55 years has invited me to stay with him and his wife for the weekend. At the last minute, he said, “You can’t come before 5 p.m. on Friday, and you have to leave by noon on Sunday. I don’t care where you go during the day, but you can’t stay here. Typically people bring what they want for breakfast, then we can pick at what’s in the fridge for lunch – but we normally don’t eat lunch – then you are on your own for supper.” The next thing that came out of his mouth was, “Just get here and we’ll take care of everything else.”

I’m confused. I would have normally brought a gift and offered to pay for a night out and dinner. What is proper when visiting a lifelong friend?

GENTLE READER: Such an extraordinary invitation requires a follow-up, as Miss Manners can only conclude that the normal obligations of hospitality have become a burden to the host.

Offering to reschedule or stay at a hotel, if possible, may unearth what has changed. It will at least assure your host that you do not mean to be a burden, and it may remind him not to make you feel like one.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Please help me handle someone at work who always talks over people. Whenever he is in a conversation and someone tries to respond, he will just keep talking like the other person isn’t even present. Usually, the other person will stop to let him continue rambling on.

It’s grated on my nerves for a long time. On one occasion, I tried to get my statement across by continuing to talk and raising my voice – and he STILL continued on.

I’ve gotten to the point where I just don’t say anything to him, and let the conversation become a monologue. I’ve decided he just likes hearing himself speak. How would you handle this aside from saying, “Would you shut up so I can speak?!”

GENTLE READER: Although Miss Manners frequently reminds readers that it is rude to correct another’s manners, there are exceptions.

The behavior you describe will interfere with the efficient functioning of the company – if it has not already. It is therefore up to someone in a position of authority to take the offender aside, as they would with an employee who constantly missed deadlines or tied up the copier with nonwork activities.

This becomes trickier when the offender is the boss, which is why companies hire human resource directors.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website