What, if any, does the label say about the response I should make? Should I:
1. Do nothing; ignore his email.
2. Respond with one of the following responses: A. You are making my point about the lack of civility in discussing issues within the homeowners association. When you pull yourself together, I would love to meet to discuss your views. B. Could you specifically identify the statements that you claim to be false? C. As you requested, you are removed from my mailing list.
Relationships with comrades condo owners carry all of the family’s drawbacks (you haven’t chosen them, for the most part, and it’s hard to avoid) with little benefit (unless, perhaps, they’re willing to watch your cat while you take a well-deserved vacation from them).
Miss Manners therefore comes up with the Crazy Uncle solution, which consists of serving your rude neighbor his figurative turkey and letting him sit in the corner, while you enlist the help and sympathy of everyone else to minimize the damage that ‘he can cause. In this case, that means option 1: ignore his letter – but pursue your goal of respectful behavior in meetings.
Dear Miss Manners: Is there a good way to ask someone to repeat themselves? I wear hearing aids, but there are still times when I need a second chance to understand speech!
As a child, I learned not to say “What?” So between my family and my friends, I find myself saying: “What is this?” (which is hardly better). With acquaintances, I sometimes say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand this. Can you repeat it?” – a rather bulky trio of sentences.
Some people say, “Excuse me?” but it has taken on such a haughty sound – as it is often used these days to express offense – that I am uncomfortable using it. “Sorry?” seems strange, because I do not ask for forgiveness.
When the grocery stores started telling their employees to ask customers how they were doing, Miss Manners was overwhelmed with perplexed Gentle Readers by what they saw as a choice between discomfort (“What is it?”) and dishonesty (“But I had a bad day”). She must have reassured them that, like blessing someone who sneezes, not all politeness should be taken literally.
The same can be said of apologies, which she regularly recommends as a way to disarm a wide range of behaviors that might otherwise be considered rudeness (“Excuse me, you are stepping on my foot”). When we say nicely, “What?” isn’t as rude as you think, but you might say, “I’m sorry, can you say it again?” But only if it doesn’t make you late for your next race.