Thoughts To Live By…

Archive for the ‘Speaking’ Category

Noticing something out of place about another person–food on the face, an undone fly, bad manners-can make you feel uncomfortable because you may not know what to do or not do about it. You feel responsible for saving them for future embarrassment, but you don’t want to be involved if they get embarrassed with you. So, how should you deal? Unfortunately, there’s no one right answer across the board, so here’s our guide for when to say something and when to keep your thoughts to yourself.

How to deal if you detect that someone…

  • …might be pregnant? You run into a friend and notice that her belly is a bit bigger than it was the last time you saw her. Your first thought — maybe she’s got a bun in the oven! No matter how difficult it may be to restrain your curiosity, don’t ask if she’s pregnant. If she is, she’ll let you know when she’s good and ready. If she’s not, you’ve just shoved a great big foot in your mouth by insulting her in several different ways.
  • …has food on the face? Whether it’s the tiniest flake of pepper or a massive chunk of spinach, let people know if they are parading around with something funky on their cheek or in their teeth. It’s such a common one that it’s not all that embarrassing to talk about. A comfortable “oh, you’ve got something there” will make them able to take care of it comfortably.
  • …is making offensive comments? This one is compelling because it can elicit anger, resentment, and distrust. When someone makes an inappropriate remark or tells an offensive joke — whether it’s racist, sexist, or demeaning in any way — you should absolutely say something.  But keep it on the short and sweet side, particularly if it’s an intimate setting (like a dinner party). Don’t push the issue; a simple “That topic isn’t humorous” should suffice.
  • …has bad breath? If it’s a good friend, significant other, or family member, by all means say something —  just find a nice way to do it. Offer up breath mints with a gentle, humorous reminder. If you’ve just indulged in a spicy meal, you can joke that everyone needs a really good brushing. If you don’t really know the person, we’d probably let it go.
  • …has B.O.? This one’s a little more personal than bad breath, which is why there’s no way to tell someone they reek without offending him or her. But a pungent dose of B.O. is impossible to ignore. If it’s someone you know, it’s worth it for both of you to tell them. You could try something light-hearted, “Whoa there, did you just get back from the gym?” If you’re lucky enough for the person to ask about how they’re doing in that department, feel free to offer an honest opinion. But if you don’t know the person very well, again, we say let it go.
  • …is wearing a see-through garment? Most women understand the importance of a good bra. But every once in a while, you may run into someone who doesn’t realize her shirt and everything else is seriously see-through or that her flimsy camisole doesn’t provide sufficient coverage. This one is tricky because only another woman can deliver the message, otherwise it’s just too mortifying and creepy. (If you’re a good guy enlist another woman to help.) Take the lady aside to say something like, “I just noticed that your shirt is more see-through than you probably thought. I know I’d want to know if it was me, so I wanted to tell you.”
  • …has another clothing malfunction? If you had an unfortunate button undone or unzipped fly, you’d want someone to point it out, right? So, take one for the team and let the person know! In general, it’s best in these situations for men to tell men and for women to tell women; this helps eliminate the possibility of the person misreading the observation.
  • …has something in their nose? Because this one looks grosser than the others, it can be the hardest of all to approach and the hardest to ignore. If someone has a little somethin’ somethin’ hanging from their schnoz, hand the person a tissue and quietly, politely, motion that he or she needs a little wipe. It’s so much better to be tipped off than to find out when you’re alone in the bathroom left to wonder how many people caught your new look.

July 2020


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