How to deal with an in­ter­rup­tion when on the phone

San Antonio Express-News - - MYSA - by Ju­dith Martin Please send ques­tions for Miss Man­ners to her email, dearmiss­man­ners@gmail.com

Dear Miss Man­ners: I rec­og­nize that the gen­eral rule is that it is po­lite to not chat on a mo­bile phone when you have live peo­ple right there with you. But what about when you are in­ten­tion­ally off alone, on the phone, and oth­ers come up to you and in­ter­rupt the con­ver­sa­tion? I am think­ing of a sit­u­a­tion in which I was wait­ing for my sig­nif­i­cant other to fill out some forms at his new job. We had driven to­gether be­cause we had some mu­tual er­rands to run af­ter he fin­ished. I hap­pily spread out on a blan­ket un­der a tree, rather far from the of­fice build­ing, got out a snack for my­self, and, once done eat­ing, called my brother on my cell­phone to in­quire as to the health of my sis­ter-in-law, who was quite ill. All of a sud­den, I barely heard my name be­ing called from afar. It was my sig­nif­i­cant other and his new boss, wav­ing at me and call­ing out. I got up from my blan­ket, crossed the field to the build­ing and shook hands with her, telling my brother to hold on a minute and apol­o­giz­ing to her for be­ing on the phone. Is there a po­lite way to say, “I’m sorry, but I’m on the phone just now”? Or is it al­ways rude to ig­nore those right in front of you, even if they have in­ter­rupted you? Gen­tle Reader: Your brother comes first, be­cause the con­ver­sa­tion with him pre­ceded that with your part­ner and his boss. And this would be true whether the in­ter­rup­tion was from your spouse’s new boss, or his old bar­ber. In ei­ther case, it is im­por­tant to con­vey to the in­ter­loper that he is in­trud­ing. If in close prox­im­ity, the cor­rect re­sponse is, “I’m sorry, but I was just in the mid­dle of a call,” but mouthed, so as to be only barely au­di­ble, and ac­com­pa­nied by your free hand point­ing at the phone.

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