YOU ASK! WE ANSWER! YOU DECIDE!
By Callie Gordon, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace
QUESTION: I have a friend who always tells personal stories about me in front of our friends. I am sure he does not realize that he is totally embarrassing me. How do I shut him up?
CALLIE’S ANSWER: Take him aside later and explain to him how you feel. I am sure he isn’t meaning to embarrass you.
LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: I think first you have to tell him that hearing him relive your own stories in front of other people is embarrassing to you. He may not know and may just assume that you find them funny, too. If he’s a good friend, he doesn’t intend to make you uncomfortable. You can also tell him up front as something happens that you don’t want it shared.
HELEN’S ANSWER: When you don’t want someone to know something about you, don’t tell him, and, sometimes, it is best not to tell anyone. If you share a personal story, I would think it would be OK to repeat it.
If it is a shared personal experience, then tell the friend right then that you don’t want anyone else to know as it might embarrass you. If the personal stories happened a long time and he is still telling them, remind everyone “It happened 20 years ago.” It really is embarrassing to have your words and stories repeated when sometimes you don’t remember them at all.
GUEST’S ANSWER: Matthew Price, Features Editor of The Oklahoman: Maybe just a gentle, “Hey, now, let’s not be telling stories,” would give him the hint. If not, try to meet with him privately and share your concern. If he doesn’t know he’s embarrassing you, maybe just telling him what type of stories he tells that have embarrassed you will get him set straight for the future.
Possibly when you tell him a potentially embarrassing story in the first place, you could say, “please don’t repeat this,” so that he’ll have an idea from the get-go this is meant to be a private discussion between the two of you. If that doesn’t work, you may have to be more selective in what you share with him.
Ask an etiquette question and get an answer from several perspectives: Callie Gordon is 20-something; Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s; and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. You’ll also find a guest answer. To ask an etiquette question, email firstname.lastname@example.org