DEAR MISS MANNERS: A couple of times now, colleagues have mentioned to me that they are taking a day or a half-day off to undergo medical tests, without giving details. What is an appropriate response, given that they have volunteered this information?
I have settled for responding with, "I hope everything is OK." Is there a better response that acknowledges what they've said -- I don't want to seem uncaring -- without implying that I'm asking what the tests are for?
GENTLE READER: Half the people who tell you about their upcoming tests will be offended if you do not inquire further -- and half will be offended if you do.
The proper response is therefore to stall for time while you determine which type they are. "Is there anything you need me to check on while you are out?" mirrors your colleague's ambiguity about whether this conversation is personal or professional -- while also, Miss Manners notes, being unclear about how much of their work they can dump on you.