Home Life Style Miss Manners: Insults aren’t okay because you say ‘just kidding’

Miss Manners: Insults aren’t okay because you say ‘just kidding’


Dear Miss Manners: Is there a proper reaction to people who brutally insult or criticize you, but immediately follow it up with “just kidding”?

My wife’s sister uses the phrase constantly. On a recent visit, she disapproved of the meal, noted my recent 10-pound weight gain and disliked our new sofa — she wasn’t asked for her opinion on any of these things — and then said she was joking. I don’t find it funny.

Justifying rudeness by accusing the victim of not getting the joke is indecent. It is also not the act of a person who is genuinely funny.

Miss Manners therefore counsels you to ignore the insult implied with each “just kidding” instance — namely, that you have no sense of humor — and let your unamused demeanor make clear what you think of the overt ones.

Dear Miss Manners: I’ve been training my dog not to lunge on the leash whenever we pass another dog. Toward this end, when another dog is approaching us, I’ll pull my puppy girl off the sidewalk, get her attention, make her sit, then give her treats.

Fortunately, my doggy will do anything for a treat. Unfortunately, the other dog walker in this equation almost always tries to make small talk with me while I’m engaged in this training routine. They approach me and my errant dog, who will again start to lunge, and ask if their dog can meet my dog.

Have I mentioned that my sweet pup weighs 90 pounds and doesn’t know her own brute strength? I’ve been dealing with this by ignoring the other dog walkers, but quite frankly, that feels rude of me. But if I were to split my attention, things could get ugly, as my doggy is prone to meltdowns if she doesn’t get her treat.

Is there a polite solution here? I’ve got it under control otherwise, and my pup is making great progress.

Ignoring someone who is speaking to you is rude when a quick response — “I’m sorry, no. She’s not fully trained yet” — would surely not be a great risk. If you wish to be more emphatic so as to get rid of them sooner, Miss Manners authorizes you to grit your teeth slightly and look as if you are about to be overpowered by your sweet pup.

Dear Miss Manners: I commute to work every day on a train, and I am a fast walker. I prefer to hustle across streets and generally time my commute based on my quick walking pace.

I will occasionally leave work with a co-worker who is walking to a train station, or may catch up to someone I know at an intersection on my way in. What are the protocols for walking with or past a colleague?

Say hello and apologize that you have to run ahead, as you are late.

While Miss Manners recognizes that this feels less comfortable when the co-worker is the boss instead of your assistant, remember it will be balanced by the pleasure that person will feel that you take your responsibilities so seriously.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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