Miss Manners: Online sportsmanship requires a gracious winner

May 27

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I play a word game online, and some of my friends do this: If they’re losing by a large margin and the game is nearly over, they “resign” the game and start a new one.

It doesn’t matter if I had a few letters left that I wanted to figure out how to play (which to me is the fun of the game); they just feel that the particular game is done because (1) they’re going to lose no matter what, and/or (2) they can only make words like “ha” or “it” with the few letters they have left.

They don’t ask me if I would mind resigning the game — they just do it. I’ve told these friends that I don’t like that, and they argue with me that it was the sensible thing to do.

I think it’s rude and poor sportsmanship. I want to have fun, down to the last two letters I get to play! So,what do you think — is resigning like that rude and unsportsmanlike, or should I just suck it up?

GENTLE READER: Sportsmanship is a matter of behavior, and interacting quasi-anonymously through an online game robs participants of vital clues about motivation and conduct.

Were your opponent to resign by upending the game board and stomping out of the room, it would be rude and unsportsmanlike. Nor does a good winner prolong a lost game for the purpose of “rubbing it in.”

Miss Manners sees no indication that your opponent is doing the former and you are clearly not doing the latter, but without contact outside of the game, there is no way to know for sure, which is why you, quite correctly, resorted to e-mail. Having now explained your well-meant reasons to your opponent, and received his equally well-meant response, it would be gracious to accede to his wishes on the theory that as the winner, you can afford to be generous.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a co-worker who sits across from me and constantly expresses her frustrations by mumbling under her breath and rolling her eyes. She isn’t doing it directly toward me, but she does it very audibly and sometimes slams her hands down on her desk as well.

It can be very irritating at times and counterproductive in the way that she spreads a lot of negativity around. Is there any way for me to say something like, “Hey, your mumbling and talking under your breath isn’t very productive and causes stress. Can you keep it under control?” Should I just ignore it?

GENTLE READER: It would be better to ignore it than to relate it either to productivity or to stress, Miss Manners warns you.

The former will invite questions of how productive is the behavior that annoyed your colleague. The latter will turn the discussion to medicine and psychology, both areas in which the co-worker may find justifications for her impolite behavior.

You need not, however, do either. Simply asking your co-worker if she has something to say to the group will make it clear to her that her behavior has been noticed.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays on www.washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com.

2014, by Judith Martin

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