In­tro­vert un­com­fort­able at par­ties

Albany Times Union - Sunday - - ADVICE - JU­DITH MARTIN MISS Man­ners ▶ dearmiss­man­[email protected]

DEAR MISS MAN­NERS: I am an in­tro­vert. I do not en­joy large gath­er­ings of peo­ple. Per­haps this is so­cial anx­i­ety, or per­haps I am sim­ply plagued by mis­an­thropy. Be­cause of my pref­er­ences, I gen­er­ally avoid large par­ties: To oth­ers, a large room full of jol­lity is a joy. To me, it is a chore.

We soon ap­proach the hol­i­day season, with the usual cav­al­cade of cel­e­bra­tions. I in­tend to avoid as many of th­ese as pos­si­ble. How­ever, per­sonal or pro­fes­sional obli­ga­tions in­evitably com­pel at­ten­dance at one or two events.

I am gen­er­ally hap­pi­est if I am seen at the event (thus meet­ing my obli­ga­tion), but then left to my­self, prefer­ably in a quiet cor­ner where no one will bother me, and I will bother no one else.

Is there a grace­ful way to ex­e­cute this with­out en­gen­der­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of rude­ness or in­ter­fer­ing with oth­ers’ abil­ity to en­joy the event?

GEN­TLE READER: See­ing some­one stand­ing in the cor­ner com­pletely dis­cour­ag­ing all hu­man con­tact is likely to be a mood-killer.

In­stead, per­haps you could tell your hosts that you would love to stop by, but un­for­tu­nately can only do so for a mo­ment.

Miss Man­ners warns, how­ever, that if you are only mak­ing an ap­pear­ance, you must make it count and en­gage in some sort of in­ter­ac­tion. DEAR MISS MAN­NERS: I’m a re­tired pro­fes­sional woman who chose not to have chil­dren. When­ever I meet some­one new or at­tend a women’s group, I’m asked, with all due re­spect, “How many chil­dren do you have?”

I con­sider this ques­tion too per­sonal and don’t know how to po­litely say, “It’s none of your busi­ness!”

GEN­TLE READER: Es­pe­cially since “It’s none of your busi­ness” has the added im­pli­ca­tion there are too many chil­dren to count.

In­stead, Miss Man­ners sug­gests, “Oh dear, I knew I for­got some­thing!” with a sly smile and a quick change of sub­ject.

DEAR MISS MAN­NERS: Af­ter I had been at a new com­pany for two weeks, the su­per­vi­sor sent me an email that was clearly some­thing copied and pasted. It be­gan with, “Dear NAME,” which he for­got to change to my name. Is there a po­lite way to make him aware of this so that he does not do it again? I doubt it will make em­ploy­ees feel val­ued, as I was rather hurt by it. I con­sid­ered re­spond­ing with

“Dear NAME, Thanks,” but held my tongue — or fin­gers, in this case.

GEN­TLE READER: You showed re­straint. How­ever, as you rightly pointed out, it would be kind to save him from fu­ture em­bar­rass­ment.

“Dear Sir, I seemed to have re­ceived a let­ter for the wrong per­son. I would be happy to for­ward this to Mr. Name. I don’t think I’ve had the plea­sure of meet­ing him, but sadly, it seems that now I am too late.”

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