From pungent co-workers to self-proclaimed wine snobs, here is my latest installment of Q & A’s from our readers about how to handle embarrassing situations.
1. How can I correct someone who continues to call me by the wrong name every time I see her? It’s insulting.
Admittedly, it can certainly be uncomfortable to be called by the wrong name, and our tendency is to just let it go. Doing so, however, opens up the possibility that the other person may introduce you by the wrong name to someone else. It is also embarrassing to the other person when he or she finds out they have been calling you “Sue” when your name is “Sarah”. By staying silent, you create a larger and even more embarrassing problem. Feel free to politely and discreetly correct her with a smile on your face using a pleasant tone. Say, “It’s Sue,” then continue on with your conversation.
2. I have a friend who is a wine snob (his own term) and brings his own bottles of wine to every function he is invited to attend because, he “refuses to drink cheap table wine”. He justifies it by saying he offers it to his host and table mates. What are your thoughts?
I would have a chat with your friend privately and let him know that his practice of bringing his own wine to functions has unintentionally insulted fellow guests in the past. Acknowledge his advanced wine palate and suggest he host a wine tasting party to “further educate” his friends. In the meantime, request he partake in the wine offered, or call the host in advance and offer to bring wine for the entire party. Chances are unlikely he will like this idea!
3. My coworker comes to work smelling of mildew. I have tried to drop subtle hints but she hasn’t picked up on them. The smell is so strong I have trouble concentrating. How should I handle it?
It depends on how well you know her (or him). If you are close friends with your coworker, consider it an act of kindness to let them know their clothes carry a particular odor. On the other hand, it will only make the situation more awkward if you tell a person you barely know that they stink. Give the situation a few days and see if it is a temporary issue. If it continues, you may have to confidentially speak to your supervisor and mention the problem, allowing them to remedy the situation.
4. I work with a person who won’t stop talking. I can’t get my job done because he walks in my office, sits down and won’t leave. Even when I continue to work, he just keeps going. He reminds me of the Energizer Bunny! Any suggestions?
Tell him kindly, but directly, that you enjoy his stories but unfortunately have a lot of work to do, and perhaps a lunch date later in the week would be a better time to talk. When all else fails, say “Would you please excuse me?”, smile and stand as if you are walking out the door to grab a cup of coffee or visit the ladies room. Next time he walks in say, “John, I’m on a deadline, please excuse me.” Continue to be consistent and he will get the hint.
5. When a birthday invitation says “No gifts,” is it okay to still bring one because I am the birthday girl’s best friend? I don’t want to hurt my BFF’s feelings!
When it says “No Gifts,” it’s polite to respect what is stated on the invitation. Especially if you are the BFF, you will be hurting the feelings of others by bringing a gift, because they will have followed the instructions and will be left second guessing. If you want to give your friend a gift, give it to her at another time, not at the party. It will make it more meaningful because you specifically set aside time to spend with her to celebrate.
6. I recently brought a dessert (that was very time consuming to make) to a dinner party I was invited to attend. My host didn’t even offer to serve it. Wouldn’t you consider this rude behavior on the part of the host? I wanted to ask for it back before I left!
It depends. If the host asked you to bring the dessert and didn’t serve it, perhaps she forgot and it would have been in the realm of protocol to remind her about it. If you just surprised her, she most likely spent the same amount of time on her own dessert and didn’t want to overshadow her own efforts. A good guest brings a bottle of wine, box of candy or other food items with the intention of the host serving it another time. A gracious host thanks the guest for the gift and continues to serve her own meal. Also, a respectful guest doesn’t ask for the half empty bottle of wine that was served or the uneaten dessert!
7. I have a friend who is obnoxiously loud. She also makes equally insulting remarks, but truly doesn’t mean anything by it. I can’t invite her to many functions because no one else likes her. Am I a bad friend for not inviting her, and lying to her about the party she’s not invited to?
It is never a good idea to lie to your friends about events they are left out of; it only opens the door for an argument that could harm or end the friendship. Take the time to speak to her and tell her that some of her actions are causing people to pull away from her. Reassure her that you are sharing this information as a friend. While you love her personality as an outgoing person, she should be aware of her volume and comments when in a public setting, so there is no misunderstanding of her intentions.