Dear Manners: I started a new job about a year ago, in a position I had long wanted and finally achieved. The problem I’m having is with a co-worker whose office is located close to mine.
On top of the frequent pacing, he talks to himself constantly, usually of a complaint nature. He also chant “God!” Often. While eating at his desk, he slapped his lips as he slammed the food to himself.
I tried to ask “Excuse me?” To tell him he’s thinking out loud, but the hint doesn’t seem to make it home. Using the radio to drown out some of the comments helped a bit, but I can’t get it to play too loud, especially when I need to answer the phone.
Other than annoying habits, he’s actually cute. Any suggestions?
Gentle Reader: It’s endlessly baffling for Miss Manners that people who talk to themselves feel justified in being offended when someone else responds. It seems to her that this is how the connection works, and a fair warning should be given if it is going to go otherwise.
So she suggests that you say, “I’m afraid it’s hard to focus on clients when you’re talking out loud to yourself. Maybe you can move your conversation to another room?”
Dear Manners: My mother-in-law always tells me things I already know. I don’t want to sound like the one who knows it all, but unfortunately, she has lived a tight life and the things that shocked her are not new to me.
I get a lot of news and stuff instantly through social media, while you get it later because she reads the daily newspapers or magazines. How do I tell her I already know something without looking like he knows everything?
Kind Reader: Ask for more details: “You’ve heard about Brexit. But tell me, what’s the latest?”
There are always different angles and different accounts to report on, as well as the actual conversation part – confirming your opinions. If the policy proves controversial, Miss Manners suggests that you stick to less serious topics – if you can find them.
Dear Manners: A friend of over forty has again asked me not to call her married adult daughter.
Although she and her daughter are separated, I prefer not having any conflict, and being neutral with family or friends who have disagreements. Plus, I’m 70 and don’t appreciate being told who I can and can’t relate to.
Kind Reader: “I can’t promise you that, but I swear I will not act as a go-between or divulge any private details from either of you.”
However, Miss Manners warns you that once your old friend realizes she has lost a valuable intelligence agent, she may reconsider her position.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website www.missmanners.com or to her email [email protected] or via postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)
Copyright 2022 Judith Martin
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