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Do I Have To Say 'that's Ok' When It's Not?

Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin on

DEAR MISS MANNERS: How can one respond when someone apologizes for something that really warrants an apology?

An automatic response for many people is to say, Don't worry about it, No worries or That's OK. But these responses suggest that whatever was done or whatever happened is acceptable and OK to do again.

Example: A friend's dog peed on my shoe when I was at her house -- I was trying to leave, and was frankly really irritated (this dog has housebreaking issues). She apologized, and I unthinkingly said, It's OK. My friend said, No, it's not OK, and I answered, Well, no it's not, but I'm not holding it against you.

How can one accept an apology in a way that acknowledges that it was owed? I can only think of, Apology accepted, which sounds rather stiff. Or, Thank you for apologizing, which sounds rather awkward in some situations. Any other suggestions?

GENTLE READER: Awkward and stiff are not things to be avoided: They are the solution to your problem.

That very discomfort underscores that offense was given -- allowing your words to be gracious without being dismissive. Miss Manners avoids the colloquial It's OK for many reasons, not least of which is her desire to leave no doubt that she would indeed object to anyone's peeing on her shoes.

 

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a name that is very similar to other names. Having spent my entire life being called by the wrong name, I do not take offense. I simply tell people my name. Sometimes in writing.

And yet it persists. I typically try to reintroduce myself, maybe more than once, but ... it feels super awkward to shout out, That's not my bloody name, already!!!

My friends and frequent acquaintances know my name, of course. But I am currently in a volunteer position in my community, and my program contact still calls me by the wrong name -- after multiple introductions, despite my subsequent efforts to try to discreetly inform them (e.g., in every signature of every email).

Suggestions on how to politely fix this, both specifically and in general? It is just disappointing to resign myself to telling people, for a lifetime, My name is Saucer, not Soccer. It feels like a constant confrontation. I realize in the time of COVID, this is not a bad problem.

...continued

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COPYRIGHT 2020 JUDITH MARTIN
 

 

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