Miss Man­ners

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - COMICS, ETC. -

Dear Miss Man­ners: We are for­tu­nate to have a close-knit group of about seven fam­i­lies ready to help each other in times of cri­sis.

As is com­mon in any such group, our fam­ily feels closer to some fam­i­lies than to oth­ers.

Fam­ily A, we are very close to. We feel com­fort­able shar­ing per­sonal in­for­ma­tion and seek­ing ad­vice from each other.

Fam­ily B, we are not as close to. Our re­la­tion­ship is cor­dial and for­mal, but can’t be de­scribed as deep.

Wife of Fam­ily A doesn’t like to dis­cuss her health much. When she had surgery, only our group of seven fam­i­lies was told about it.

Later, I came to know that Fam­ily B is dis­cussing A’s health con­di­tion with oth­ers.

When a fam­ily out­side of our group called us about A’s health, we pre­tended ig­no­rance and changed the topic.

Ini­tially, we ig­nored this sin­gle in­stance of news-leak, but we have come to know that Fam­ily B is spread­ing the news to many oth­ers.

We un­der­stand that their in­ten­tions are good, but they need to use a lit­tle more dis­cre­tion.

DAVE COVERLY

DAVE BLAZEK

Should we just ig­nore this, or should we take some ac­tion to pre­vent fu­ture leaks, thereby re­spect­ing Fam­ily A’s pref­er­ence for pri­vacy?

For ex­am­ple, should we ad­vise our close friends (Fam­ily A) to gen­tly re­mind Fam­ily B not to not dis­cuss A’s health with oth­ers?

Or should we call Fam­ily B di­rectly and ad­vise them to use more dis­cre­tion?

Gen­tle Reader: You are ask­ing how to cor­rect an­other per­son’s man­ners — which would be im­po­lite — with­out be­ing im­po­lite.

As your mo­ti­va­tion is the laud­able one of spar­ing Fam­ily A’s feel­ings, Miss Man­ners will as­sist you.

Say noth­ing to Fam­ily A. Do­ing so would be to gos­sip about — and crit­i­cize — the be­hav­ior of Fam­ily B, to hurt Fam­ily A (who were pre­sum­ably un­aware of what was oc­cur­ring), and would not re­solve the prob­lem.

Strike up a con­ver­sa­tion with Fam­ily B and weave in a story or two demon­strat­ing Fam­ily A’s ret­i­cence to dis­cuss health mat­ters openly. This is known as drop­ping a hint.

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