DEAR MISS MANNERS: Over the past two years, my husband and I have received two rather substantial bequests from two very generous relatives. Because of these inheritances, we have been able to make much larger donations to charities than we otherwise could have.
We have since been inundated with letters and phone calls soliciting more, even larger, donations. Representatives from two charitable organizations have asked to meet personally with us, and a third actually showed up unannounced at our door. (We weren’t home, but he left a note and a small gift.)
Will you please tell me how to politely let these organizations know that phone calls and personal visits will not inspire us to give them more money? If anything, they will have the opposite effect.
In the future, should we enclose a letter with our check, asking that they not contact us except through the mail? I do a much better job of ignoring letters than I do surprise phone calls and ambushes at my front door.
GENTLE READER: Reputable charities should recognize not only the etiquette, but the self-interest, in following a donor’s wish about how to communicate.
But Miss Manners recommends you save your admonition for a response to the inevitable follow-up solicitation. If you preemptively tell them to contact you by mail, you will only whet their appetite.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a tall woman, and am frequently asked my height by men and women alike. While I find it mildly annoying, I can shrug it off easily enough. (I’ve never understood why asking someone’s weight or age is considered rude, but asking about height is fair game.)
But how might I respond to the occasional man who, after asking this personal question and getting an honest answer, doesn’t believe me? It seems to imply that I am either too ignorant to know the right answer or a liar, both of which I find very insulting. (I have had my height of 6’0” verified many times over the years, and I have no reason to “fudge” the numbers.)
A typical confrontation of this sort comes from a man who has exaggerated his own height, and wants me to explain the obvious disparity between our viewpoints. The next time this happens, is there a way I can let him know he is being a jerk -- without being one myself?
GENTLE READER: Asking a woman’s weight is also considered fair game these days, Miss Manners is saddened to admit. That does not make asking her height or her weight any less rude -- and, as it is rude, you are under no obligation to answer.
A light smile, accompanied by, “Oh it’s been so long since I measured,” is all that etiquette requires. For the persistent male, you may add, with a slight tone of annoyance, “As I said, it’s been some time since I measured. Does it really matter?”
If this is still not enough, move closer, look down at him, and ask firmly -- but, please, without a snarl -- ”Well, we’re almost the same height, aren’t we?”
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)