Los Angeles Times

How to be ‘ politely rude’?

- Send questions for Amy Dickinson to askamy@ tribune. com.

Dear Amy: I work at a place where we have to foster relationsh­ips with people. We’re supposed to create a family atmosphere, be welcoming, and treat everyone as a friend— but this creates a problem.

I run into co- workers everywhere who “know” me from work. I do not know howto be politely rude when seeing them. For instance, when I am out shopping, people I work with will recognize me. I have to be polite and friendly atwork, but Ido not know how to be politely not interested when I am not at work.

It makes going out daunting and obnoxious because I spend so much time in conversati­ons I amnot interested in having. Today I ran into a guy whom I know only from work, and he asked me about howmy vacation was and what I did. Then, I felt obligated to ask about kids and his vacation — but frankly I didn’t care.

How do I decline conversati­ons without being rude?

Just a Girl Doing her Job

Dear Girl: Here’s a theory: Perhaps going out is “obnoxious” for you because ( outside of work) you are obnoxious. Either that, or you simply have an obnoxious way of describing a problem that isn’t really a problem, but more a reflection of the way you see yourself and others.

There is no such thing as being “politely rude.” There’s polite and there’s rude, and while youmay act politely toward people, you are following that by being rude about people who, according to you, have the gall to be friendly toward you in public.

What you seemto seek is a way to avoid being caught in extended conversati­ons when you don’t want to have them. Leaving your judgment of others ( or mine of you) out of it, this is a completely legitimate question.

The best way to do this is not to provide any details in your answers, and not to ask any questions in return. Here’s a sample: “Guy”: Hi, Girl! Nice to run into you! Hey, how was your vacation?

You: Oh. Hi, Guy. Thank you for asking. Itwas great. I hope you and the kids had a good one too! Nice to see you. I have to scoot along, but I’ll see you at work on Monday.”

Dear Amy: I’m invited to a lot of potluck meals. A couple of times at recent potlucks I had a lot of food left in my dish after the dinner was finished.

It rubbed me the wrong way when the hostess scraped my leftovers onto one of her dishes so she could keep what was left over for herself.

Am I being selfish to think that she should have left it for me to take home ( unless I offered to leave it for her)?

How should I respond in the future when the hostess gets a little greedy with the leftovers?

Hungry for Leftovers

Dear Hungry: Surely you feel just a little flattered that your dish was delicious enough to promote a little bit of greed. Would you feel as resentful if your fellow guests had doubled- up on helpings, leaving none for you to take home?

Iwonder if your host feels that keeping leftovers is compensati­on for hosting the meal ( perhaps other pot-luckers will weigh in).

In the future, notify the host ahead of time, “If there are any leftovers frommy offering, I’d like to take them back home with me tonight.”

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