DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a co-worker who randomly texts me on my personal phone, and the texts have nothing to do with work matters.
I don’t mind chitchat around the proverbial water cooler, or in between meetings, in the elevator, etc., but I think that personal texts — such as “We’re having a barbecue, you should stop by,” “Martini time!” or “You were missed” (when I was out of town) — cross the bounds of professionalism. My husband thinks so, too.
Can you recommend a way to ask him to stop the personal texts without being rude or offensive?
GENTLE READER: Obviously this would not bother you if you sought any kind of friendship with this person outside of work. And while you do not want to presume romantic intentions, you want to make it clear anyway that none are welcome.
Miss Manners therefore suggests something along the lines of, “While I appreciate the invitations, I’m afraid that my time outside of work is filled with family obligations and catching up with my husband. But I will look forward to seeing you back at the office on Monday.”
The whiff of threat should be enough to convince this person not to pursue this — and that if it continues, you now have evidence that you asked for it to stop.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: We entertained another couple with a dinner party in our new home. Generally, when dinner is ready, I prefer the guests to be seated in the dining room with the beverage of their choice, making conversation with my husband while I plate the entrees and serve everyone.
This couple insisted on helping me plate and serve. I responded several times that I prefer to complete this process on my own. They wouldn’t budge and replied that was silly: “Please let us help.”
It’s interesting that when previously dining at their home, after asking if I could be of help in the kitchen, I was directed to sit in the dining room — which, of course, I did.
I know they are very concerned with dietary ingredients, but I had already addressed those concerns and prepared food accordingly. I felt that they were supervising me, and it unnerved me. I failed to include several finishing touches to the dishes and felt rushed after hours of kitchen prep work.
I don’t wish to hurt anyone’s feelings, but also don’t want to be politely bullied in my own kitchen. What would have been an appropriate response to their insistence?
GENTLE READER: “Now, Meredith. Fair is fair. When we had that delightful dinner at your house, you would not let me help. So now you really must let me finish my preparations while you relax. I can assure you that it will be easier for me to double-check my ingredients if I can focus solely on that.”
That slight warning — that unauthorized activity may compromise the ingredients in their food — may well be enough to keep this insistent couple out of your kitchen.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, [email protected]; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)
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