Monday, March 5, 2012

Manners for a New World.

In 1993 I was a fresh-faced college graduate navigating my way through the business and adult social worlds.  I spent days speaking with, dining with, or otherwise entertaining / placating a lovely, albeit very proper, assortment of quite wealthy widows. I worked at a trust company and was often the main client contact for those whose money we managed.

My life was instantly and shockingly more refined than my college days. Gone were the days of dinners with half price pitchers of beer {ok, not gone entirely, but certainly fewer and further between}. I often joined my boss and clients for breakfast at the Ritz Carlton and finished my day at a Junior League meeting sipping wine. 

Weekends were frequently filled with festivities for the bevy of weddings which ensued in those first few years after college. It was an exciting time, but I was constantly faced with new professional and social situations.  

I distinctly remember thinking keeping my elbows off the table and placing my napkin on my lap were the least of my worries. I had the basics mastered. It was all the rules I didn't know or understand that terrified me. 

Exactly how many shower / engagement / bachlorette gifts were expected before you were exempt from also purchasing a wedding gift? When writing business correspondence to a female client how do I address her -- Mrs. Husband's name or Mrs. Her name? 

It was during this time, and after dozens of calls to my mother, that I received {my first but} the Fifteenth Edition of Emily Post's Etiquette.  

It's pages are now well worn. And while many find it's advice antiquated, I believe it is not so much outdated as it is simply incomplete.  

I am still happy to set a proper table and truly enjoy sending handwritten notes. I do, however, also need to know how to appropriately end an IM conversation. It always seems awkward, no?! 

Well thank goodness Emily's great, great-grandchildren carry on the family tradition. 

Emily Post's Etiquette, Manners for a New World addresses new trends, topics and societal hot zones such as Facebook, social media, Evites and texting. Thank goodness.

This is not a tome of rules written to make you feel inadequate. Times have indeed changed. According to the Posts, however, "the principles of good manners remain constant. Above all, manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. Being considerate, respectful, and honest is more important than knowing which fork to use. Whether it’s a handshake or a fist bump, it’s the underlying sincerity and good intentions of the action that matter most."

I couldn't agree more.  

My copy is on it's way.  

Wouldn't the world be a nicer place if this was required high school reading? Or do you now think me a gentrified old bat?!

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