How to Handle Sticky Situations
The Etiquette of Uncomfortable Questions
Situation: A friend asks if she looks good in an outfit, and the answer is something other than yes.
Solution: Blame the clothes, not the person. "Never say 'You look terrible in that.' Instead say 'Those pants are wrinkly in the back and don't show off your cute tush,' " says Clinton Kelly, cohost of the Learning Channel's What Not to Wear and a coauthor of Dress Your Best ($20, amazon.com). "If everything in the dressing room is too tight, remember: Misery loves company. Say 'That brand always runs small. I tried on four pairs of pants last week before I found the right ones.' " Then find a better alternative. If one outfit looked great, have your friend try it on again, and compliment an aspect of it that other choices lacked. Finally, timing is everything. "If you're in a dressing room, you can make a difference, so be honest," says Kelly. "But if your friend is running out the door or already in public, why burst her bubble?"
Situation: Someone asks you out on a date, but you're not interested.
Solution: "Never, ever make up a boyfriend or any excuse that you could get caught lying about," says Lesley Carlin, coauthor of More Things You Need to Be Told. Be as gentle and respectful as possible, by keeping your answer vague but firm. Say "Thank you so much for the offer, but I really have too much going on, and I don't think this is for me right now." If you work together, use company policy (or your own personal rule) as your reason not to get involved. "It's a perfect excuse," says Carlin.