DEAR MISS MANNERS: I had a “friend”/coworker who stabbed me in the back and betrayed my trust. She has no idea that I know and keeps asking/pushing me to go to lunch with her.
How do I politely decline so as not to cause friction? I don’t trust her and prefer not to associate with her, but unfortunately I see her regularly.
KIND READER: Probably any other counselor would tell you to vent to this person, explaining that you were hurt by their betrayal.
Not Miss. Politeness.
At best, you’d get an apology, which doesn’t necessarily guarantee it won’t happen again. But instead, you might get a denial, a justification, or a counter-charge. If she truly regretted what she had done, she would have found a way to make it clear.
You have to work with this person. You found out that she is not a friend. So treat her just like a co-worker. This means politeness is required, but not warmth – not lunch, not other opportunities for conversation. “Sorry, I’m busy” is all that’s needed.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When did “RSVP” change from “Please answer yes or no” to “Reply only if your answer is yes”? I get a lot of electronic invitations and such, and they all seem to imply this new interpretation of the old phrase.
It seems a little rude not to be given a graceful way to decline that doesn’t involve not responding.
KIND READER: Can we please get rid of this form? Apparently no one understands – did everyone fail high school French? – and is now annoyingly used as a noun.
It means “please answer”.
Yes, as those of you who learned French in high school will point out, the phrase is actually “answer please”, but the “if” is not meant to be taken literally. It’s safe to assume that few people, even those who throw large parties, can adequately prepare when they don’t know how many guests they will have.
Miss Manners would find it obvious that it is rude to ignore an invitation. But most people only discover this when they are the hosts.
So let’s put it in plain English: “Please respond.” The more formal version is “The favor of a reply is requested”. Note that Miss Manners does not use the British spelling “favor” – why all the foreign phrases? – nor does it condone “Regrets Only”. It is not up to the host to assume that a prospective guest would regret not attending the party.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I want to thank the US Postal Service for delivering a card addressed to me from my mother, who is severely visually impaired. Her handwriting was terrible and this letter has been treated with TLC to get to me!
This was the last correspondence I received from Mother before she passed away, and I am so grateful to those who recognized the love and effort she put into sending it.
KIND READER: So do it – thank the local post office and maybe write a letter to the Postmaster General. Miss Manners suspects they don’t get much gratitude from the public.
Please submit your questions to Miss Manners on her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or by mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.