REVIEW: Etiquette Rules! by Nancy R. Mitchell
“The world was my oyster, but I used the wrong fork.”
Although surely alluding to something besides good table manners, Oscar’s classic metaphor does contain a grain of truth underlying the pros and cons of proper etiquette. Like it or not, manners and etiquette are the hallmarks of a well-rounded person and, even if only subconsciously noticed by others, are a trait whose benefits are enormous both socially and professionally. Today’s etiquette is so much more than simply being able to correctly identify spoons. For many, especially young professionals, conducting oneself properly in the office, at meetings, and at work events is extremely critical.
Here to instruct all that is proper is Nancy R. Mitchell. For more than 25 years, Nancy has been an etiquette consultant for numerous clients and is the owner and principal instructor of The Etiquette Advocate (etiquetteadvocate.com), which has been featured on CNN, ABC Nightline, Martha Stewart Living Radio, The New York Times, and many more. Arranged by events and settings, the book will clearly and succinctly give readers everything they need to know to successfully maneuver in today’s world; from knowing how to properly serve high tea, to giving a perfectly tasteful toast.
Dear Ms. Mitchell,
I learned my etiquette old school. My mother sat me down with (now ancient) hardback copies of Amy Vanderbilt and Emily Post where I learned the exact dimension your calling cards had to be and how many tea towels and damask tablecloths were needed for a bride’s trousseau. Then Miss Manners took over with her pithy replies to her gentle readers. But in today’s social media world, is there still a place for all these rules? I decided to read this book and find out.
I’m impressed by how succinct yet informative the book is. Each chapter is neatly divided and the contents are covered but without rambling about. There are tips and pointers as well as tables for things such as how to correctly address envelopes and how to address various people face-to-face. And – oh the joy – thank you for reminding us that there is still a place in the world for hand written thank you notes and responses to invitations.
Yet there are situations now which earlier etiquette advisors probably never envisioned. When replying to a social media contact do you respond with a text or an email? Reply all vs reply. And proper cell phone etiquette at a party or meeting – hint, in all cases turn the %^&* thing off unless you are a first responder or the designated driver for a pregnant woman near term and even then politely notify your host.
Some things though haven’t changed. Do dress formally for a job interview – oh, the horror stories my office manager sister has told me about visible thongs, start from the outside when using utensils at a meal and if in doubt, politely ask. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way, too.
In a world where reading news headlines would have you believe it has gone to hell in a hand-basket, it is nice to see someone making the effort to uphold some common civility and manners which, though they might be updated now for same-sex weddings, work cubicles or food trucks, are never out of style. B+