Wednesday, 12 Dec 2018

Miss Manners: Who is the time zone?

Dear Miss Manners, When speaking to a person in many time zones, what is the appropriate greeting? For example, if it's my morning and their afternoons, should I say "hello" or "good afternoon"?

The advice that seems to prevail seems to be that you should just use "hello". But if the other party greets you first with "good (time of day)", answering with "hello" seems inappropriate as it does not match the greeting you received. A British colleague suggested "hello", but this phrase is so seldom used in American English that it seems too stiff.

Even though it is a formality, the literal meaning of salvation is to wish good luck to someone for a given period of time. Therefore, it is unlikely that asking a British friend to have a good day on the phone is effective, as his day is about to end. "Good evening" would be more appropriate in this case.

Miss Manners notes that in addition to the logic of making a wish for a good evening, it gives you the opportunity to recognize that you know you have interrupted dinner – what you would not have done if the subject of The appeal was not so urgent.

Dear Miss Manners, We are fortunate to have a very united group of about seven families ready to help each other in times of crisis. As is common in such a group, our family feels closer to some families than others.

Family A, we are very close to. We are comfortable sharing personal information and seeking advice from each other.

Family B, we are not so close to. Our relationship is cordial and formal, but can not be described as profound.

Wife of Family does not like much discussing his health. When she was operated on, only our group of seven families was informed. Later, I learned that Family B was discussing A's health condition with other people. When a family outside our group called us about A's health, we pretended to be ignorant and changed the subject.

Initially, we ignored this one case of information leakage, but we learned that Family B was spreading the information to many other people. We understand that their intentions are good, but they must show a little more discretion.

Should we just ignore this or should we take steps to prevent future leaks, thus respecting family A's preference for privacy? For example, should we advise our close friends (family A) to gently remind family B not to discuss A's health with others? Or should we call Family B directly and advise them to be more discreet?

You request how to correct the manners of another person – which would be impolite – without being rude. Miss Manners will assist you to the extent that your motivation is commendable.

Say nothing to family A. It would be gossiping and criticizing the behavior of family B, hurt family A (who probably did not know what was going on) and would not solve the problem.

Start a conversation with Family B and insert a story or two showing Family A's reluctance to openly discuss health issues. This is what is called dropping a clue.

The new columns of Miss Manners are posted from Monday to Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners on her website,

2018, by Judith Martin


Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: