Dear Miss Manners: Last year, I planned a dinner with seven friends from junior and senior high school. (We are all in our 50s now.) At the dinner, we decided to make it a monthly thing, with me in charge of planning. Most members of the group have attended at least three of the seven get-togethers; however, there are two who came only to the first one. Last month at dinner, we decided to stop inviting those two, so I removed them from our social media group.
Needless to say, they are not happy. I know I probably should have let them know that they were being removed before I did it, but it’s too late for that now. Our first dinner without them is coming up, and I know I will catch some grief once they see the pictures online.
Do you think I was wrong to stop including them? (I’m saying “I” because I will be the one to take the heat from this.)
This is so easy to fix that Miss Manners suspects facts not in evidence: All you have to say is: “Completely my fault. I thought, because you were not coming, you weren’t interested. Of course I’ll add you back to the group right this minute.”
Did we forget to mention the part of the group discussion that went: “Because none of us can stand either of them, how about we use the excuse that they have not attended to get rid of them?”
Even if this is the case, it is not too late to use the above apology and count on their continued, voluntary nonattendance. It may be less satisfying than telling them that you still have not forgiven them for that incident at the junior high dance, but it will be more polite.
Dear Miss Manners: When my mother died, her funeral was very well-attended. My siblings and I formed a receiving line at the reception, so we could thank every guest for attending.
Many guests wanted to talk at length, which, of course, held up the people behind them. One guest wanted me to look through old yearbooks with them to find pictures of my mother.
I tried to redirect the lingerers by saying: “Oh, I want to hear all of this in detail. Can I find you when the receiving line is finished?”
My approach was not effective, and in some cases, I ended up interrupting and thanking the person for attending, then turning to the next person in line.
It felt terribly rude, and I still feel badly about it, even though I did follow up with each person later. Is there a better way that I could have handled the situation?
Such problems occur in every receiving line. The solution is to have in mind other attendees who can be deputized when needed. You could alert one of the (probably) many people who had asked what they could do to help.
In your example of the friend with the yearbooks, take them gently by the hand and walk them over to the cousin who knows how this friend can be, briefly explain that they have some pictures to show and return to the receiving line. Miss Manners assures you that the right deputy, properly briefed to keep the line moving, will know what to do.
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.
©2022, by Judith Martin