Q. I have heard news of a forthcoming party which I would really love to attend. The problem is that the party is being given by a man I have met on a handful of occasions, during which we always got on like a house on fire. Unfortunately we twice left the ball in my court to arrange to meet up for a proper chat. I wanted to but never got around to it and now assume he must have felt snubbed as he has not invited me to this fairly big party. Any suggestions, Mary?
– M.W., London W8
A. Make things right immediately by telephoning to invite him to dinner. Can he come on… then give the date of his own party. He is bound to explain the reason he is busy that night and invite you along. Don’t forget to follow up with a proper appointment for a one-to-one dinner.
Q. I have a new friend who sent me flowers on my birthday this year. Birthdays are not my thing and I barely even acknowledge mine, although I admit I loved receiving her surprise bouquet on the day. Now I find that it was her own birthday last week and I failed to send anything. It wouldn’t matter were she not a slightly touchy person. I don’t want to make a big thing of it but how can I move forward, Mary?
– T.G., London NW3
A. Send her a bouquet now. Ring after they have been delivered to explain that you felt it would be so much nicer for her to receive them a few days after all the other flowers she must have been sent – so she didn’t feel too inundated on the day.
Q. I recently had an awkward experience at a works drinks party. Having been introduced to the parents of a revered colleague I made what I thought must have been a tactless or inappropriate remark, as the mother just stared at me in what I interpreted to be disapproval. She then failed to join in the rest of my conversation with the father. The next morning, when I apologised to my colleague for having unintentionally offended, he apologised himself. He said his father had ‘loved’ me but explained that his mother, who refuses to wear a hearing aid, is in the frustrating habit of pretending to have heard what people are saying. So to readers who, like me, meet with what seems a hostile response from someone of a certain age at a noisy drinks party, I suggest bearing in mind what may be the real reason for any perceived hostility.
– P.D., London EC4
A. How considerate of you to share this nuance. When such an incident arises you should assume the best rather than the worse. Continue to talk using short, bland sentences which can be lip-read – such as ‘It’s very noisy here isn’t it?’ – to establish there has been no loss of good will.
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