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Miss Manners: People compliment me while bringing themselves down

3 min

Dear Miss Manners: I’m about to graduate from college. While attending school, I have worked multiple jobs at a time, volunteered, participated in extracurriculars, done research and ultimately will graduate in the expected amount of time for my degree.

It was hard and stressful, and I never got the same social experience that most of my peers did, but it paid off. I’ve had a good job lined up for months in my desired field, in a location I couldn’t be happier about. I try not to flaunt this, but it does come up in normal conversation with classmates, friends and family, especially when discussing post-graduation plans.

I often hear things like, “Your résumé is going to be so great — I can only put silly things on mine,” or, “I was nowhere near as successful as you. I wish I could do it over again.”

These are good people who shouldn’t be putting themselves down. I believe that a compliment should always be graciously accepted, but in cases like these, I’m at a loss. How do I respond without implying that I agree with their disparaging comments about themselves?

Such compliments are common, perhaps because the giver does not realize how ungracious comparisons are.

Miss Manners does not, however, find them challenging to answer: “Thank you; I’m sure your resume is impressive.”

Dear Miss Manners: A scenario recently came up in a conversation where one spouse comes home from work and the other is talking on the phone. Would it be considered rude if the one talking on the phone continues with their conversation?

It would be rude if that person did not.

That said, Miss Manners makes no objection to using it as an excuse to conclude the call with the friend who calls to tell you every detail of his recent doctor’s appointment or about his trip to the dry cleaner.

Dear Miss Manners: My mother and I each received a WiFi photo frame from my sister-in-law. She knows we have a new grandchild/great-grandchild on the way, and she wanted us to be able to get photos of them through the frame. How thoughtful, right?

While we’ve expressed our thanks for her thoughtfulness, neither of us wants the gift. It seems like just one more device to set up, maintain and clutter up our homes. We really don’t want to bother with all that. So we sent a thank-you without mentioning that we didn’t like it.

Now she keeps asking us to let her know when the frames are set up so she can start sending pictures of my grandnieces. How do we politely let her know that’s not going to happen?

We don’t. Nor do we need to. Your goal is to get your sister-in-law to stop pestering you and hand over the photos, not to make her feel bad about her presents.

Miss Manners sometimes sidesteps technological demands by pleading incompetence, but this would merely bring down upon you assistance setting up the device you do not want. Better to say you are ready for the photos now and, when your sister-in-law comes snooping, explain that you have been experimenting with different locations — not mentioning that you are referring to storage places — but are looking forward to seeing the pictures.

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

©2022, by Judith Martin