• Peter Yawitz

Co-Worker Is A Miss Manners Wannabe

Dear Someone Else’s Dad,

I work with a totally annoying Miss Manners wannabe. If at the end of a call I say something like, “Great,” she’ll say “You’re welcome!” with a sort

of sing-songy and chastising tone, which sounds like she expected a “thank-you” instead. On other

occasions if I text her a nicely mannered request without a salutation of some sort, she’ll respond with “Oh and good morning to you too!” I find myself wanting to be deliberately un-polite just to annoy her more, but I know I’ll get some kind of passive-aggressive “Whoa!” or stupid emoji. Any suggestions on how to deal with her?


Thanks,

Don’t Need Another Mom


Dear DNAM,

I’m imagining if cop were to arrest for something and said, “OK, hands up!” She’d say, “Excuse me, what’s the magic word? Did you forget to say, ‘please?’” Face it: some people are born to be lifetime hall monitors. I’m a big fan of being as polite as possible and I sometimes sprinkle on a bit more sugar if I think a request may come across as demanding. (Hint in that case: give a rationale for your request and demonstrate how it will benefit someone besides you.)


You really can’t change Miss Manners Wannabe, you just have to change how you respond to her. I know you want to say, “Don’t teach me a lesson, you old biddy!” (I’m just picturing an old biddy.) But that approach will lead you nowhere. I’d suck it up and just add a few more pleasantries: “Hope you’re well,” “Good morning,” “Thanks so much,” “Really appreciate it,” etc.


Remember that in emails, texts, and even in Zoom meetings, tone can be misinterpreted because we can’t read body language, notice vocal nuances, and read facial expressions. Taking a few seconds to add some niceties can compensate for what could be interpreted as an insincere message. So kindly let me know what you think. Thank you very much and have a lovely afternoon.


With warm regards and wishes for good health,

Someone Else’s Dad


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