Bad be­hav­ior mer­its silent treat­ment

Post-Tribune - - Iq - JU­DITH MARTIN Miss Man­ners

DEAR MISS MAN­NERS: I’m in a sticky sit­u­a­tion at my col­lege.

Dur­ing my fresh­man and sopho­more years, I was bul­lied by a group of five men. They made fun of me to my face, and they spread mean ex­ag­ger­a­tions and un­true ru­mors about me in­side and out­side class. This hap­pened al­most once per week.

The sit­u­a­tion be­came so over­whelm­ingly hu­mil­i­at­ing, frus­trat­ing and in­fu­ri­at­ing that I com­pletely cut off com­mu­ni­ca­tion with one of the men. I do not talk to him or look at him ever, even though we have mu­tual friends and see each other fre­quently.

The prob­lem is that I feel im­ma­ture for us­ing the “silent treat­ment.” How­ever, com­mu­ni­cat­ing with this guy has re­sulted in ex­treme hu­mil­i­a­tion, to the point that I be­came de­pressed.

In this case, is the “silent treat­ment” ac­cept­able, or is it still ju­ve­nile and rude? The pros are that my rep­u­ta­tion and self-es­teem are safe(ish). The cons are that I look rude, he knows he’s won, and it doesn’t solve any­thing. What do you think?

GEN­TLE READER: I think that it solves your having to deal with a bully.

The “silent treat­ment” that rightly is con­demned gen­er­ally refers to the re­fusal to speak to some­one with whom one must get along, typ­i­cally be­cause they are in the same house­hold or work­place. When a com­mu­nity does this to pun­ish one of its mem­bers, it is called shun­ning. What makes it cruel is that it leaves the tar­get iso­lated while un­able to set­tle the prob­lem through dis­cus­sion.

What you pro­pose — re­fus­ing to so­cial­ize with some­one who has be­haved to­ward you in an un­civ­i­lized man­ner — is dif­fer­ent. It is what is known as ad­min­is­ter­ing the cut di­rect, and should be used only in cases of ex­treme bad be­hav­ior, but this ap­pears to be such a case. Miss Man­ners only asks you to do this with­out mak­ing a spec­ta­cle of it that would at­tract at­ten­tion.

DEAR MISS MAN­NERS: I have just ac­quired six lovely dou­ble-han­dled creamed soup cups and am won­der­ing how to eat from them po­litely. Are the han­dles to be used? Why the dif­fer­ence between the bowl and the cup?

GEN­TLE READER: Yes, yes! Go ahead and pick up the cup by both han­dles and pour soup all over your­self.

But only at lunchtime. Soup cups work the day shift. At din­ner, soup should be served in bowls or the more for­mal rimmed soup plates.

Strictly speak­ing, what you have are bouil­lon cups, al­though Miss Man­ners ac­knowl­edges that they have also long been pressed into ser­vice for cream soup.

DEAR MISS MAN­NERS: My daugh­ter, a re­cent col­lege grad­u­ate, has re­ceived in­vi­ta­tions to sev­eral wed­ding show­ers in one month alone — all of them in­clud­ing the phrase “share our joy!”

They are from all peo­ple she does not know well, and she is send­ing po­lite re­grets.

Th­ese show­ers are at­tended by 100-plus peo­ple, most of whom are not in­vited to the wed­ding. Ap­par­ently this is their only op­por­tu­nity to share the happy cou­ple’s joy.

GEN­TLE READER: The hosts prob­a­bly don’t. Miss Man­ners thinks it rude to in­vite peo­ple to a shower in con­nec­tion with a wed­ding to which they will not be in­vited.

This adds to her sus­pi­cion about in­vi­ta­tions to “share our joy.” The joy that th­ese cou­ples are of­fer­ing to in­spire in those on their catch-all guest list seems to be the joy of giv­ing, while they pro­pose to have the joy of get­ting. Your daugh­ter is wise to de­cline.

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