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Monday question: Will-y nillies

Posted by Robin Abrahams  February 4, 2013 06:25 AM

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Welcome to February, readers. How are your resolutions holding up?

Here's a letter-writer who only wants to do the right thing:

My grandson, 22 years old, did a lot of chores for his next door neighbor, painting, yard work etc.. She passed away over a year ago and at the wake, her son who is in his late forties told my grandson his mother left something in her will for him. That was the last we heard from him. He lives close by and waves if we are in the yard. What would be the best way to approach this situation?

Miss Conduct is no fan of the subtle hint. Many people don't gauge their subtlety very well, for one thing, and either come off as cryptic or back-handedly insulting. And almost everyone is operating on information overload, which means that it's usually kinder to state your case clearly than to make someone unravel your roundabout, Restoration-era locutions.

However, in this case, I think a subtle hint is probably the best bet. Say hello, and ask how everything is settling down after his mother's passing. Ask after her house or other surviving relatives. This might be enough to jog his memory, then or upon reflection. If it doesn't, let it go.

That's my take. However, I promised the LW that we'd crowdsource this one as well. What do you think, dear readers?

And do you have romantic dilemmas this Valentines' Day? Join me back here on Wednesday, February 6, for a live chat at noon.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at

Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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