Didi’s Manners & Etiquette: What to Say and Not Say with Friends
Thursday, May 07, 2015
What to Say When Mistaken for a Friend
We were waiting to be seated in a restaurant and I mistakenly addressed the man ahead of us as our good friend Bill and started chatting. It took a couple of seconds to realize it was not Bill, but a total stranger — a near look-alike. Especially from the back. The stranger was a real gentleman and continued to talk about the restaurant, the weather, and somehow managed to get in the fact that his name was George _____, which of course did not ring a bell.
I was impressed that he didn’t embarrass me further by saying something such as, “You must be mistaking me for somebody else.” When my wife returned from the ladies room she picked up immediately on what I had gotten myself into, because she also thought at first glance that she recognized Bill. Later we wondered what I could have said to show I appreciated his good manners?
~Alfred, Charleston, SC
Don't worry about, George knew what to say when mistaken for a friend by a stranger: You gently help him to bounce back by talking about nothing personal. Instead, he made small talk about the place and weather before subtly introducing himself by dropping his name. Not necessarily to correct you, but to let on that he knew that you knew, that you had mistaken him for a look-alike.
George probably felt your embarrassment nearly as much as you did. Next time say, “I thought for a minute you were my old friend Bill Wilson, but you are younger.”
What to Say About My Fiancé Dyeing His Hair
My fiancé has been experimenting with dyeing his hair and it is driving my crazy. I want to say something. Like I don’t care if you’re going gray but… However, he is very sensitive about going prematurely gray. He has a lot of thick black hair everywhere, but it is turning faster than he can pluck the gray hairs out. I am hoping to convince him not to dye his hair before our upcoming wedding, because it doesn’t look natural. What should I say to my fiancé — before our wedding?
~G.T., Austin, TX
If you’re close enough to be getting married he’s your "true partner" — and you are able to discuss finances with him and make important decisions together — you can certainly talk to him about his hair color. He must know you know that he is going prematurely gray, if you’ve ever seen him with his shirt off. In order to make your relationship real, you have to get real.
Tell him you love him just the way he is — salt and pepper hair from head to toe. If he protests, treat him to a professional hair colorist as soon as possible. If need be, get a second or third opinion. If your loving words aren’t convincing enough, an experienced colorists can assist him with restoring his youthful hair color.
What Not to Say to a Terminally Ill Friend
I am forever sticking my foot in my mouth. Recently when visiting an old buddy in a hospice, I said, "How are you?" He replied, "Well, not so good. I wouldn't be here if I wasn't dying." Now, how does one come back from that kind of faux pas?
~Walter, Indianapolis, ID
In the future say, "How are you feeling?" Listen while they tell you how. Then ask if there is anything that you could get for them or do for them? Try taking out your cellphone so he can see it and ask, "Is there anyone you would like me to contact that you would like to talk to?" Like many of us, we all have some kind of unfinished business we've been meaning to act on before dying. He may wish to talk to someone his family doesn't approve of or know about and he can't bring himself to ask any of them to make the call. Finding a way to be in the slightest bit helpful, is always appreciated. ~Didi
What to Say When the Check Comes
We have good friends whom we enjoy going out to eat with because they always find interesting places for us to meet for dinner. We have a good time and the food always meets our expectation, but we have a problem when it comes to paying the bill. They are big eaters, they love to eat. My wife and I love good food but we rarely have a first course and never have dessert or coffee. We're good for a glass or two of house wine, but our friends insist on ordering "the perfect pairing" for what they've ordered and that often entails ordering more than one bottle of wine. The problem is that splitting the bill fifty-fifty isn't fair. How can we resolve this dilemma and still remain friends?
The sooner you break the pattern of splitting the bill fifty-fifty the better. Don’t be timid. Chances are they dine with other people some of whom won’t put up with paying fifty-fifty. There are two ways to handle this: The next time the bill comes to the table, and you’ve estimated what you owe for what you and your wife ordered, say, "My guess is that our share of the bill rounded off is $140. with the 20% tip,” as you hand your credit card (or cash) to the waiter.
Your friends may not like the fact that you’ve set your own boundaries, but boundaries rule. The second way, is to tell them about your new set of boundaries ahead of time when making plans for where to dine.
Do you have a dilemma about love, family and life in general for Didi? Go ahead and "Ask Didi." If your Question is used, we can withhold your name and/or location.
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