Author Topic: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation  (Read 6745 times)

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o_gal

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How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« on: April 01, 2013, 11:21:30 AM »
I am going to try to ask this question first in a generic way without providing background because I think I can phrase it this way and get the etiquette approved answer. Then I can provide background later - I think it really would cloud the whole situation, because it's full of draaaammmmaaaaaa.

You are hosting a dinner and you have guests A, B, C, D, E, and F. You ask what beverages everyone would like to have and start filling them. Your are going back and forth between the kitchen and the dining room and asking for more beverage preferences. Guest B, who is very close with guest C, says that she will have iced tea and so will C, so please also bring some sweetener to the table (I drink just plain unsweetend iced tea but have Sweet-N-Low on hand.) Later, I hear guests C and D discussing why guest C has iced tea and not another beverage. Guest C usually has iced tea when they are at my house, and when guest B said that C would have iced tea, I just assumed that was the case. It turns out that guest C had brought some Coke Zero to drink but for whatever reason C did not let me know at the time. When he needed a refill later, he asked for the Coke Zero.

So the etiquette question is that if you do not hear guest B actually state what he wanted and another guest provides the information, how do you confirm that that's what he really wants?

1. After hearing that, casually say something to C like "C, would you like sweetener with your tea? I just wanted to check on whether to bring out a few packets for B or the whole box." This would let me find out if the presumptive ordering for him was correct, but without blatantly saying "C, B says you'll have iced tea, is that correct?"

2. On the other hand, blatantly saying "C, B says that you'll have iced tea, is that correct?" But as I said, there's draaaammmmmaaaaa involved here.

3. Another option that I can't think of right now but I know all the smart e-Hellions will come up with something really, really good  8)

What do you all think - how can I avoid this mini-minefield for the next time we get together?

TurtleDove

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2013, 11:25:36 AM »
I don't understande how this is an issue.  Why wouldn't C say, "no, I would prefer Coke Zero" either when B "ordered" for her, or when the ice tea was delivered?  Why would this be a big deal at all?   

ilrag

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2013, 11:36:48 AM »
If C never stated their preference or even made you aware that they brought their own beverage it's totally C's fault for not getting the Coke Zero. C should learn to use their words.

Hmmmmm

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2013, 11:37:44 AM »
Was C not there when taking drink orders? I don't understand why he wouldn't correct the comment when made.

If he wasn't there, was he there when you brought the drink into the dining room? Could you have handed it to him and say "B said you wanted tea but if you'd prefer something else, let me know."

If you brought the drinks to the table before any one was in the dining room, then I wouldn't worry about C not getting exactly what he wanted if he couldn't speak up once he got there and say "Oh, I brought Coke Zero to drink. Do you mind if I switch this out."

But I'm really curious how this became dramatic.

Sharnita

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2013, 11:38:20 AM »
Was C present when guest were asked for their drink choices? Are B and C connected - spouses or parent/child?

o_gal

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2013, 11:44:02 AM »
Hmmmmm - the drama involved is not as intense as with other stories. What I'm trying to figure out is whether and/or how to confirm a beverage choice made by one person on behalf of another, without invoking the drama. I said that there was a "discussion" between C and D about the lack of Coke Zero in C's glass, and it was then that I realized there was a potential problem. I did say privately to D that B had already spoken for C. But since C is very close to B, I had no reason to not trust what B was saying.

I agree with everyone else that C should have spoke up when B spoke for him - I think the problem was that C did not hear B speak.. So later when I asked if C wanted some more iced tea, he initially said yes and then changed his mind and asked for the Coke Zero.

Luci

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2013, 11:45:07 AM »
Look at C for confirmation and if he looks hesitant (I pick up on nonverbal language pretty well), ask point blank, "Is that what you want?" even if they are spouses....unless, of course, C is the young child of B (not here, obviously). C may be very shy so need some encouragement to speak up.

My sister-in-law frequently answers for her 40 + year old children and I've been dealing with this since her kids were old enough to make a choice that didn't need confirming from her - like if they can have pop.

doodlemor

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2013, 11:47:00 AM »
I like your idea of double checking with C by asking a question about sweetener.  Asking about the specifics of the beverage gives you a chance to repeat the choice.   You could also say something like......"Do you want ice in your coke?"

It sounds like you had an interesting Easter, o_gal.  It sounds like these people create drama over very small things.  Best of luck if/when you have to host them again. 

TootsNYC

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2013, 11:47:49 AM »
Well, if C's attention wasn't focused on the convo about drinks (my assumption is that he wasn't), C wouldn't have the opportunity to say, "No, B is wrong--though I usually drink iced tea, this time I'd like the Coke Zero from the supply that I brought."

I don't think C did anything wrong at all. When the iced tea was presented, C decided that switching out the iced tea was too much trouble/work/drama, and that since the tea had already been poured into  glass it would be wasteful.

For the HOSTESS, who is the one asking the question, I'd say that perhaps you could simply have a quiet policy that you will only ever accept info from the person him/herself.

And so you nod when B tells you "C would like an iced tea," but you completely erase the comment from your mind and then ask C, "what can I get you to drink?"

(I bet it's dramatic bcs B likes the proprietary feeling she has over C.)

GreenBird

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2013, 11:56:47 AM »
If C was standing right there when B said that C would have iced tea and did not correct B's statement, then I think you can only assume that C wants iced tea for the first drink.  If it wasn't clear if C was listening, you could catch her eye and say "Iced tea, right?"

If C was not standing right there when B spoke, then when you do see C:   
--if B isn't there, I think you can just ask C what s/he wants as if B never spoke. 
--if B is there, I think you can say "You wanted iced tea, right?"

But I also don't think it was wrong or rude to serve C iced tea based on B's suggestion since that's what C usually gets.  It turned out to be a faulty assumption, but not an unreasonable or rude one.  If C didn't want it, s/he certainly could have said "Oh, actually I brought some Coke Zero".

I'm guessing there must be some underlying relationship or personality stuff going on for this to have developed into drama!

cicero

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2013, 12:00:17 PM »
If C was standing right there when B said that C would have iced tea and did not correct B's statement, then I think you can only assume that C wants iced tea for the first drink.  If it wasn't clear if C was listening, you could catch her eye and say "Iced tea, right?"

If C was not standing right there when B spoke, then when you do see C:   
--if B isn't there, I think you can just ask C what s/he wants as if B never spoke. 
--if B is there, I think you can say "You wanted iced tea, right?"

But I also don't think it was wrong or rude to serve C iced tea based on B's suggestion since that's what C usually gets.  It turned out to be a faulty assumption, but not an unreasonable or rude one.  If C didn't want it, s/he certainly could have said "Oh, actually I brought some Coke Zero".

I'm guessing there must be some underlying relationship or personality stuff going on for this to have developed into drama!
this

and I am interested in what kind of drama could have come out of this...

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o_gal

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2013, 12:03:49 PM »
Well, if C's attention wasn't focused on the convo about drinks (my assumption is that he wasn't), C wouldn't have the opportunity to say, "No, B is wrong--though I usually drink iced tea, this time I'd like the Coke Zero from the supply that I brought."

I don't think C did anything wrong at all. When the iced tea was presented, C decided that switching out the iced tea was too much trouble/work/drama, and that since the tea had already been poured into  glass it would be wasteful.

For the HOSTESS, who is the one asking the question, I'd say that perhaps you could simply have a quiet policy that you will only ever accept info from the person him/herself.

And so you nod when B tells you "C would like an iced tea," but you completely erase the comment from your mind and then ask C, "what can I get you to drink?"

(I bet it's dramatic bcs B likes the proprietary feeling she has over C.)

And once again, Toots nails it!  ;D

Luci45 was also close in her assessment. This is my Mom answering for my 51 year old brother  ::)

Yes, it was Easter and here are the cast of characters:
A - my Dad
B - my Mom
C - my brother
D - my brother's fiance
E and F - my brother's 4 year old twins

I was taking drink orders from people in the living room and going into the kitchen to pour and place at the table. My Mom caught me as I was heading back through the dining room and she said that she and brother would have the iced tea, so be sure to bring out the sweetener. I took her at her word and my brother was gracious enough to accept the iced tea. But I overheard him and his fiance discussing/slightly arguing over why he wasn't having one of the Coke Zeros that they had brought. I spoke quietly to his fiance about how Mom had ordered for him and I apologized to her. Later, he asked for the other beverage when asked if he needed a refill.

Mom is having all kinds of issues with the fact that brother is getting remarried, although she admits that Anne is a better match for brother than Amber, his late first wife, was. The drama would have been if I had realized that maybe he didn't want the iced tea and confirmed with him. I wouldn't have heard about it then, but I sure would have heard her complain to me later about "switching" his drink.  ::) Because of course, she would get offended when she heard that he and fiance brought their own choice of drink. Among lots of other things she would get offended about regarding the addition of fiance to the family.

As Toots suggests, I'll have a policy from now on about quietly confirming with him and other guests. But since it's a relatively small house, I'm going to have to come up with a discreet way to bypass without her hearing it and getting offended. I've gotten confirmation here that something like my first option is probably the best way to go.

bah12

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2013, 12:04:29 PM »
I'm confused.  So, C was there when the drinks were ordered but wasn't paying attention and/or didn't speak up?  Or was C not present at all?

If C was there, I don't think that there's anything wrong with saying "Let me make sure I got this straight.  I'm getting water for A, B is getting ice tea, and C you are also getting ice tea with sugar on the side, correct?"

If C isn't there, I would just assume that B knew what C wanted and get it.  If C wanted something else instead, then no big deal.  But, all in all, I think this is C's responsibility...not yours and not B's.

And I know the drinks are a euphomism, but what in the world would cause so much drama?  My guess is that if it's drama-inducing, then it's more the people involved than the situation. 

Moray

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2013, 12:08:05 PM »
I've been puzzling over this, and I'm legitimately having difficulty seeing how this could be a "drama" inducing scenario. Just confirm the drink orders if you're unsure that they're correct. There's no blame to assign, no drama, no stress.
Utah

o_gal

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Re: How to confirm a choice in an awkward situation
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2013, 12:23:22 PM »
And I know the drinks are a euphomism, but what in the world would cause so much drama?  My guess is that if it's drama-inducing, then it's more the people involved than the situation.

No, you don't know that  :D  In this case, the drinks are the drinks - iced tea and Coke Zero.

But yes, it is the people involved. I was trying to get the opinion of other e-Hellions on what is a good way to discreetly confirm a drink choice when blatantly confirming it will open up some drama (see my update in an earlier post.) I think some good suggestions would help in all kinds of situations.