Q. I started chatting with a woman at a party who told me that her son has autism. When I said "I'm sorry," she got miffed, saying there was nothing to be sorry about. How should I have responded?

  • You were right to respond in a socially gracious way; she was right to catch you up on your choice of language and steer you away from pity. Could you have pointed out that you were simply trying to express your appreciation for her hard work as a caregiver? — Rushworth M. Kidder, founder of the Institute for Global Ethics

  • The lesson learned here is to bite your tongue when a virtual stranger reveals something personal. You can't go wrong by cultivating an all-purpose, furrowed-brow, I'm-listening-intently look. — Faith Salie , host of the public radio show Fair Game from PRI with Faith Salie.

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