Miss Manners: My co-worker asks rudely personal questions

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Dear Miss Manners: When I started my current position, I shared an office with a co-worker who was constantly asking me personal questions. One in particular really chafed me.

We were required to put our out-of-office time on the office calendar, and I had noted an upcoming doctor’s appointment accordingly. She asked me, “What is your doctor’s appointment for?” This was within days of starting my new job. I did not know this woman well at all.

I was taken aback. The appointment was of a personal nature and I didn’t want to share it with her. In my former workplace, medical matters were never discussed unless brought up by the afflicted.

Being put on the spot and not having a good alternative answer, I told her the nature of the appointment. I suppose I could have lied, but I wasn’t thinking quick enough. I felt strongly (still do!) that it was not any of her business, but I didn’t want to offend my new office mate so early in my new gig.

She later asked another co-worker a similar question, in my presence, and was quite offended when they told her it was none of her business. Do you have a suggestion for how to respond to such an inquiry in the future?

Perhaps this co-worker will learn from your office mate’s response, who was conveniently rude in your stead.

If she has not, and still insists on asking you the purpose of your doctor’s visits, Miss Manners permits you to answer, with some surprise, “To see the doctor, of course.”

Dear Miss Manners: My 6-year-old daughter received an invitation to an indoor/outdoor birthday party at a friend’s home. The invite says “masks at your discretion,” and more than 25 people have been invited with no mention of the vaccination status of guests.

Regionally, our covid positivity rate exceeds 25 percent. It’s incomprehensible to host a masks-optional party under these circumstances.

The invitation came via e-invitation, and I want to be delicate about our choice not to attend so as to avoid offending other parents. I also don’t want to lie to the host. Part of the reason we find ourselves in this ongoing pandemic is because of individuals not considering the collective.

Do I RSVP with a note explaining why we won’t be coming? Or just say “thanks, sorry we will miss it?”

If they have not gotten the health message from the rest of the world, it is unlikely that they will receive it (kindly) from you. Miss Manners suggests that you simply say that you are busy — without adding “not getting covid from you” to the end of the sentence.

[Find the latest coronavirus guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.]

Dear Miss Manners: As I was eating lunch with my father today, my stomach began making some very loud noises. We began to discuss other instances in which our stomachs have rumbled or when we have gotten the hiccups in public settings (e.g. a funeral home, a classroom, etc.).

When these scenarios happen in a formal setting, what is the proper etiquette for addressing it?

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.