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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

How Will People Learn If I Don’t Correct Them?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a lady who works in retail. What is the correct way to react to a man who walks up to me while I am working and says, with his eyes full of pity, “I wouldn’t want your job”?

The unsolicited comment always feels condescending, but I can’t exactly point that out to a customer. Other than asking the customer if they need assistance, is there something else I’m supposed to say? How am I supposed to answer?

GENTLE READER: It depends on what you hope to accomplish. A cool “May I help you?” rejects -- by not acknowledging -- the customer’s words, while satisfying the requirements of good manners. Miss Manners thinks this is a great deal. If, instead, your goal is to get into a conversation with your boss about your future in sales, then you may smile and tell him, “Well, I’m keeping it, so you can’t have it.”

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)