Dear Miss Manners: I want to be upfront and admit that I’m a picky eater, and that I am also on a budget. So I rarely say yes to work invitations to order out. However, whenever I am in charge of ordering for our group, I make sure to invite everyone.
One day, our group was planning to eat lunch together and decided to order from one of my favorite restaurants, where I haven’t been for a long time. I found out about the order only when their food came.
I was very hurt and dismayed that I was excluded. I do not expect to be included every time someone orders takeout. But I would think that when a group of people is planning to eat together, the polite thing is to let everyone invited know their options.
Am I wrong? If I am right, is there a way to convey that, without being rude, so that nobody feels this way in the future?Gentle Reader: In principle, everyone in the same small group should be invited to participate. The practice is trickier with a longstanding group who know one another’s preferences, particularly in an age where it is easy to offend unintentionally.
Miss Manners has no trouble imagining a person taking offense at receiving a sixth invitation (after giving five refusals) on the grounds that she does not like to be reminded that she is on a budget. It would be best for everyone to assume good intentions, and for you to tell a few co-workers that you love that particular restaurant, in the hope that they will remember for next time.
Dear Miss Manners: I occasionally dine with a small group of friends, and we engage in conversation both during dinner and after. However, whenever I start to speak, one friend will turn to begin a side conversation with the person next to him. Although I immediately pause and give a rather icy stare, this does not stop my friend from continuing his new conversation, making it so that I don’t finish mine.
I’ve always felt that, particularly in small groups, only one person should talk at a time while others listen, and that to start another conversation while someone is speaking is a rude interruption. My friend disagrees, saying that simultaneous conversations are allowed, and that my abrupt silence is the rude gesture. Which of us is correct?
Gentle Reader: Although she sides with your friend that multiple conversations are permissible, Miss Manners notes that you may have a different idea of how to begin such side discussions politely. Interrupting another person mid-sentence is rude. It is therefore material whether your friend spoke to the person next to him when you were about to speak, or when you were already speaking.
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