Category Archives: Social situations

Vaccination

Is It Rude to Ask If Someone Has Been Vaccinated?

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At the time of writing this article, it appears that Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations are on the decline, but we are still not out of the woods. At least 50 percent of U.S. adults have been fully vaccinated. That leaves a high number of people who are either reluctant or who are adamantly opposed. For a variety of reasons, we are operating in a world where we don’t know who has had the vaccine and who has not. Depending on the situation, there may be a need to know. That, of course, raises questions about when it is appropriate to ask if someone has been vaccinated and how do you ask?

In the workplace

One place where there is less of a dilemma about asking is the workplace. A growing number of employers are requiring that their employees be vaccinated; thus, the need to ask. These places might be independent businesses or governmental ones. If employees do not wish to comply, that’s their choice. In other instances when employers are struggling to find workers, they choose not to ask. Generally, these employers strive to follow as closely as possible all the safety guidelines to protect their customers and staff.

In your own home

If you are having guests in your home, it’s perfectly acceptable to inquire. You might need to know for your own safety or for that of other guests. The decision is yours. You have no way of knowing about vaccination status unless you pose the question.

When to ask

Pose the question before someone arrives at your home. How rude would you be if you waited until people arrived? Then you are putting yourself in the position of un-inviting someone on the spot or asking them to put on a mask. Chances are neither option would have a pleasant outcome.

 How to ask

Lead with why you are asking. You may be immunocompromised or have someone in your family or guest list who is. If you are hosting a number of people indoors, you may feel it’s prudent to protect all who are in attendance. You may be fully vaccinated with both shots and the booster but not willing to test the waters of a breakthrough to see if it’s true that you are not likely to get a bad case of the virus or die from it.

When it’s not okay to ask

It’s not okay when you are:

  • Simply nosey
  • Want to start a debate about “vaxxed vs non-vaxxed”

These are difficult times. People are frightened and edgy. Everybody is somewhat Covid Cranky. We all need to do whatever we can to make people feel comfortable and safe. If there was a time to show kindness, courtesy and respect for others, this is it.

Handling Awkward Situations

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Earlier this summer I was contacted by a reporter with the Chicago Tribune who was writing a column called “Social Graces”. She asked me to respond to the following question:

How do you address a friend who always embarrasses you in social circles by bringing up things you did in the past?

I loved this question because I have first-hand experience with handling awkward situations, particularly this one. A close friend has done it to me for years. My usual response is to smile and try to laugh off whatever embarrassing moment she wants to pass on. For the most part, the things she chooses to reveal are what she perceives to be humorous. Kept between the two of us, they might be funny.

How do I address these awkward moments? I find that laughing them off is best. There is no need to call out my friend in front of everyone else. Laughing at her stories puts me in the position of laughing at myself. Self-deprecating humor is well-received by others. There is no reason to make an uncomfortable situation any more awkward.

After listening to my friend tell the same story on several different occasions, I have taken her aside and asked her to stop repeating my embarrassing moments. I have told her that I am not happy with having her make fun of me.

In these awkward situations, it is important to let the other person know how bringing up past events, that are not always complimentary, makes you feel. People often fail to consider the feelings of others. Asking the question, “Do you realize how this makes me feel?” is the best approach. “Feel” being the keyword.

Another tact, when you see this coming, is to stop the person immediately and say, “Do you mind not telling that story again? I think everyone has already heard it.”

The less attention you draw to the situation the better.

In summary,

  • Try to brush off or laugh at what your friend is saying.
  • Refocus or change the subject as quickly and smoothly as possible.
  • Take your friend aside and let her know how she makes you feel and ask that she think before she does it again.