Civility: Nothing to lose. Try to apologize

A continuation of a three-way communication between the columnist, a young man who wrote to her for advice, and a young woman with whom the man is – or would like to be – acquainted.

Dear Blaine,

If you knew this young woman well and had a close relationship with her, your comment about her figure might not have been offensive. She may have felt that because you mentioned her “hour-glass” figure first, that you only had one thing in mind.

When you made this comment, what was your body language? Did you look her over when you made that comment? You noted in your letter that her clothing was not provocative. Yet she obviously was insulted by your remark and thought that you misread her completely. It would be well to keep this in mind: Most respectful and smart women want to connect on a non-intimate level in order to develop what they think will be long-lasting relationship..

I think that she overreacted by slapping you. It was a like using a cannon to swat a fly. Instead of that, there could have been a statement of her disappointment — something like, “I'm sorry, this just won't work for me. Goodbye.”

If she could be important to you, it wouldn't hurt to e-mail her a note of apology. You have nothing to lose. You may comment that, “I have been thinking about our encounter at the art gallery. My words were out of order and inappropriate for the situation. Is there a way that I can correct my rudeness? I would like to see you again.”

Keep in mind that she may have a problem with impulse control, and with reacting without thinking.

Please let me know what happens.

Kind regards,

Diana Olson


Diana, thank you for getting back to me so quickly. Your advice was outstanding. I felt we had a solid connection before things disintegrated and it would be worth sending her an apology note. Do you think I should have tried to make an apology at the party instead of waiting until now? I wasn't sure what the proper protocol for a gentleman was upon getting slapped by a woman in a public setting, so I thought it was just best for me to leave at that point.




As noted, I don't think that your comment warranted a slap. I think that it is better that you have thought about it, because now you are more conscious of sensitivity. It wouldn't have made a difference in her state of mind that night. You made the right decision to leave. I do think that you probably are a gentleman because of your openness to her response.

Do let me know how it turns out.




DIANA OLSON, MA AICI CIP, etiquette & civility specialist/image stylist, can be contacted at (626) 584-9761, e-mail:, or

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