Metro-East Living

In social settings, it’s best to be polite and avoid controversial subjects

Dianne Isbell
Dianne Isbell

Q. What a situation: You and your husband are out with a group of people, socializing, and the subject of the current political Supreme Court nomination subject comes up. It soon turns ugly with some yelling at each other with their differing opinions. My husband started to try to say something, but I got up, grabbed my purse and I headed for the door. My husband followed. How are you supposed to properly handle situations like this? I told my husband after we left that I thought he should have asked the group to change the subject. Would you agree?

A. Appropriate and proper social etiquette dictates there are three subjects to be avoided in social discussions: religion, illness (health issues) and politics. The reason these subjects should be avoided is validated by the disruptive social description you described in your question.

Your choice to remove yourself from this obviously uncomfortable, volatile, inappropriate social situation was the correct response. While a polite request to change the subject during a normal social conversation, might be effective, I doubt it would have been effective in the scenario you described. Removing yourself from the situation was appropriate and I commend you for not getting involved.

Q. My husband and I were at a recent sporting event of youngsters playing football. One of the fathers became a little too emotional and began bad-mouthing and demeaning the abilities of some of the kids on the other team, which was ahead of his team. A couple of the other parent spectators finally asked the loud mouth to calm down. He did for a little while but then started again later. At the next quarter break, another parent went down and talked to the coach of the team being demeaned. We saw that coach then go over to talk to the other coach. After the game, we saw that coach go talk to the loud-mouth father. Is that the appropriate action to take or is there a better way of handling it?

A. It is such a shame these kinds of situations occur. It is not only embarrassing for all spectators at the game, but also the players on both teams, and the coaches. While I do not know the ages of the players or whether it was a school-sponsored event or a community-sponsored event, there should be published rules of behavior for spectators. Whether those rules are distributed by the coaches and principals, or the leaders of the community-sponsored event, they should be provided.

One of those rules should be that all spectators should remain polite, non-disruptive and respectful of all players, coaches, umpires and other spectators. Should any spectator violate that rule, that spectator will be subject to be asked to leave the sporting event by the appropriate personnel. Who those designated “appropriate personnel” are should be identified by the sponsors of the event and included in the list of the rules.

Another statement to be added to the list of rules is a statement reminding parents that they set an example, either good or bad, to young people in their actions and behavior at these sporting events.