Miss Manners: They ask, I say no. Suddenly, they are “joking”.

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Dear Miss Manners: Sometimes people ask me something, then as soon as they hear the start of an answer they didn’t mean, they interrupt and quickly insist that they were “joking”.

Take the co-worker who wanted me to do a shift for them (again) or the irresponsible family member who wanted to borrow more money. The few times I agreed to cover a shift or help out a family member, the requests were never jokes.

What’s the best way to say “no” to someone when we need to, and ask them to drop the “just kidding” trick?

For what? The trick allows so that they save face and make you laugh about it rather than having to refuse – or actually giving them what they want.

Sorry, but Miss Manners thinks this is a great blanket and a practical solution for you. Second only to not being asked at all.

Dear Miss Manners: I finished my studies and started my first permanent full-time job. I have never been so happy. I have lovely friends, colleagues and I really love my field. Also, after 27 years on this Earth, I am finally financially independent and free from my parents.

I don’t want to bore you with the details, but suffice to say they were extremely controlling. They supported me financially, for which I am extremely grateful, but they made it clear to me that their support depended on my absolute obedience. Part of my obedience was hiding the fact that I’m a lesbian, because they’re very homophobic.

I would like to put all this in the past, and I have made great strides! I came out to everyone in my life and set boundaries with my parents.

The problem I have now is that my colleagues seem to find “How do you get along with your people?” be an appropriate question to get to know you. I like these people and I assume they are trying to be friendly, but I have no idea what the appropriate response is.

Whether it’s a peer or a boss, I find myself wading for an answer that doesn’t make me seem ungrateful to my parents or rude to the asker. Is it okay to just say it’s personal? Should I lie and say we get along?

“They are doing very well thank you.

Yes, Miss Manners realizes that doesn’t strictly answer the question. But investigating the specifics of family dynamics is brazen and intrusive — and a series of questions most people would be happy to avoid answering on their own.

Dear Miss Manners: I feel very lucky to be able to retire earlier. When people learn of my upcoming retirement, I am often asked, “What are you going to do?” »

I know this is a common question, but I don’t think seniors would be asked this question with the same subtext, which seems to indicate that I need to do SOMETHING.

I have travels, hobbies and volunteer activities to pursue, but I have no plans to work again. What’s a polite response to “What are you going to do?” doesn’t that justify how I’m going to spend my time?

New Miss Manners columns are published Monday to Saturday at washingtonpost.com/board. You can send questions to Miss Manners on her website, MissManners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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