Monday, May 12, 2014

Manners Monday: A Classy Woman Uses Discretion in Her Conversations

Have you ever got off the phone or walked away from a conversation and thought 'Why did I share that?' in regret. Maybe you tried to put someone else at ease and make them feel less alone in their dilemma and realized you probably crossed a boundary in how much you revealed? Perhaps you were on the receiving end as a colleague, friend, neighbor or family member went a little too far with an issue or event in their life making you squirm in your chair? Today we're talking about what is means to use discretion in our everyday and private conversations. 

It's such a blessing to have ultra-close friends that we can confide in, trust and share things with that we wouldn't dream of revealing to others. However, even within such a safe relationship, there is some level of discretion that must be exercised. Just because everything can be talked about doesn't mean it should be discussed. Some things make others feel uncomfortable, even hurt at times and can put them in an awkward position at the expense of being real, open and honest. 

A classy woman doesn't let it all hang out, while she is transparent and makes others feel comfortable as she can relate to where they are at, she is both thoughtful and tactful while still being genuine and true to herself. I'm a big believer in talking things through and using open dialog especially in marriage, however some things are better left to discuss with a therapist; counselor and the most high counselor up above-God. :) Sometimes it's a matter of sorting ourselves and our thoughts an feelings out first before we decide what exactly we wish to share with another.

It is up to each one of us to use good judgement in conversing with others, a topic that may be off limits in one relationship is completely acceptable in another. That being said, there are certain boundaries that a lady knows she shouldn't cross as it pertains to particular matters. I'll list 3 specific topics below.

1. Sexual Escapades & Extramarital Affairs-While shows such as Sex & the City have glorified open friendship where women all talk at great length and in specific detail as to their sexual partners, positions, fetishes, etc., most people feel uncomfortable hearing about what goes on in someone else's bedroom, how often they make love and what their partner excels at, etc. This definitely crosses the line. Some friendships have allowed for such discussion freely but it is not something a classy woman participates in or initiates. If a woman finds herself having an affair and her friends are also close with her partner, that puts them in an uncomfortable position as they are left to choose who they will 'side with' even though they may want to be loyal to both parties.

2. Salary & Wages-There may be times when someone asks us point blank how much we earn. It really isn't anyone else's business besides ours, our employer, our spouse and the IRS. Revealing information about how much money you bring in (whether we initiate it or it was asked of us) can make others feel less than, jealous, angry and they may act on those feelings such as choose to exclude you from certain functions or in fact the opposite could happen as they include you and then expect you to pick up more of the tab. There is nothing good that can come from it. If the fact that you have a tighter budget than the others in your circle needs to be addressed as they constantly invite you to expensive restaurants and outings, it can be done in a tactful way that will hopefully make them more mindful of ideas such as dinner parties at home, lunch in the park, and other events that won't break the bank or not extend an invitation to those that would make you feel down for not being able to participate in.

3. Addictions- There is nothing wrong with being transparent and sharing with loved ones where you are at should you find yourself consumed by addiction, but it depends on the nature of issue. The more common and acceptable forms are cigarette smoking and food addictions. Those such as gambling, sex, recreational drug use, alcohol, prescription drug use, pornography, etc., should only be shared with others using the utmost discretion. Even though it's only natural we'd feel safe talking to those who love us most, they are by no means qualified to handle such issues, and while they can encourage, inspire and uplift, it's best to seek professional help. It's important to share such things with a spouse of course as these things directly affect them also. I'm not recommended that someone should isolate themselves or live a lie and keep secrets, but caution must be used. I have only experienced dealing with an acquaintance turned friend once in my life who had an alcohol addiction and while she clearly wanted friends that would hold her accountable, it created awkwardness in our friendship as she waffled between asking me to hold her accountable and then when I did (and tried to be as supportive as I could) she became offended and became defensive of her behavior and actions reasoning that I couldn't understand what she was going through. 

What topics do you wish others would use more discretion when sharing? 

Thanks for Reading!



  1. I couldn't agree more on all three aspects brought up. Far too much chatter on this stuff, and it seems to be more about justifying one's actions rather than repentence from them.

  2. Yes, yes, yes to your list. And I'd like to add any health-related topics. For some reason people feel the need to give a play-by-play of their birthing experience, and I just want to know what you named the kid. I don't need know what tore, what hurts, any of that. I work with a lot of older women who are having grandchildren, and they share everything! I highly doubt their daughters/daughters-in-law would appreciate that!

  3. I love this blog, and I sent this to my sister as well. I had a job where my coworkers talked about all three of those topics constantly, and it was terrible. I mistakenly told one of my coworkers that my dad paid for my car (when she asked) and helped me out financially, and my team was hateful and jealous towards me after that. I regret saying anything at all! They would also talk about sex all the time. A bunch of them also started taking laxatives to lose weight and would talk in detail about that constantly. How do you gracefully tell someone something is none of their business or that you don't want to hear about whatever they're talking about? Anytime I tried, it would backfire. Luckily, I'm not at that workplace anymore, but I'd love advice for the future.

  4. I second Anonymous's question; I'm in college and working at a decently-paying part time job when most of my friends either don't work or work custodial jobs. I've been asked several times how much I make and when I tell them, they seem to get jealous. How do you kindly tell them it's none of their business? Also, any tips on sticking with your determination to not talk about certain things. I've told myself, "I'm not going to talk about this" and I'll find myself talking about it anyways...

    1. To Anonymous and Maria Wendt:

      I think I got this tip from Emily Post or Miss Manners.

      Deflect, deflect, deflect is a great way of handling situations in which you don't want to share sensitive or private information.

      Try, "My, my! You're very inquisitive aren't you?" or "How kind of you to ask!" with a smile. And then change the subject.

      For salary questions, try, "Hmmm... Not as much as I'd love to be making, but enough to get by, thankfully. I feel very fortunate to have this job." And then change the subject.

      Keep doing this until they get the point. If they don't, you may just have to come right out and say, "Honestly, I'd rather not say." And then change the subject. Switch to discussing something more lighthearted or fun. You can also try pointing out something about them that's very pleasant.

      "Honestly, I'd rather not say. Hey, that's a beautiful necklace you're wearing!" Or something like that.

      Make sure that you practice this in a mirror. I have a cute-ish/coy-ish way of saying these things with a smile that gets the point across, but also doesn't come across as too harsh.

      Also remember that you are not obligated to share personal info with people. I believe that as long as you communicate your lack of desire to share certain info in a kind and considerate manner, how they react is not your problem. People have become way too accustomed to oversharing and overhearing these days and it shows!

    2. Also for Maria, when it comes to stopping yourself from talking about things you'd rather not, you have to train yourself to think before speaking. I have a five second rule. I do not respond to anything without counting to five first. This gives me a chance to really think about whether I'd like to respond at all, and what the best way of responding will be. It also stops me from sharing info I've decided I would rather keep to myself.

  5. I love this site! It's such a treasure trove and it's so nice to find other like-minded people when it comes to grace, class, dignity and manners. I swear sometimes I think I'm going mad in today's culture.

    To this list I'd add never bad mouth your spouse/partner in public or share private information about them that they probably wouldn't want anyone else to know.

    I was raised by old schoolers and was always taught to only speak positively about your spouse when with others. If you don't have anything pleasant to say about them, stay quiet. Never discuss marital or relationship troubles freely or bad mouth your spouse. It's even worse when I have to spend time with your partner. It makes for a very awkward and uncomfortable situation.

    1. Great points, Jenn! That is a great addition to the list. Thanks for sharing. :)

  6. Oh my word, yes! I can't tell you how many times I've been on the receiving end of personal histories, five minutes after the introduction. Something about me seems to prompt people to start unloading like I'm their mental health professional. No one seems to appreciate how embarrassing and uncomfortable that is for the recipient. I'm reticent about sharing personal information with someone I know and trust. I wouldn't consider pouring my heart out to a stranger, acquaintance or co-worker.

    1. Hi Ali,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for stopping by! :) I think some people do naturally attract over-sharing in others, that just means you are approachable and others fear comfortable with you.


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