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Keep Thy Foot Out of Thy Mouth

It's never wise to make a comment whatsoever about another person's weight. Even if you think you're giving a compliment, just don't do it.

I say this because I have been on the receiving end of questions which have been unintentionally hurtful, such as "Have you lost weight?" What? I know I could benefit from a little toning and there are times when I have to break out the larger-sized pants, but come on! It doesn't matter if they follow up their question with, "Well, you look great!" It bothers me that my fluctuating weight is noticeable enough to merit critique. I'd really rather live in my dream world where no one cares about whether I can fit into my skinny jeans!

I remember witnessing an awkward exchange between Sarah, my former colleague, and a client. Sarah lost a significant amount of weight while grieving her young husband’s death, and a client who had not seen her in some time could not stop exclaiming about her obvious change in size. It wasn’t weight that Sarah wanted to lose, and the intrusive comments and questions were clearly painful for her.

What I've learned from these conversations is that there is no polite way to discuss someone else's weight with them, period, and the subject needs to be left alone. Someone's weight is their personal business. I didn’t always feel this way; I, too, have been guilty of commenting on others’ weight because I thought I was being encouraging. Certainly, some people do love the attention, but now I wonder how many hurt feelings I left in my wake.

Situations such as these have reminded me of the value of taking time to brush up on etiquette. Consider etiquette to be guidelines for treating others with respect, and you’ll see that it isn’t an antiquated set of stuffy rules. It’s a way of showing genuine care and consideration for other people. As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."


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