Peter Post, the great-grandson of etiquette expert Emily Post, President of the Emily Post Institute, and frequent conference speaker on business etiquette, has provided an enjoyable, pracitical book for younger men who would like to improve their social interactions.
Post begins by defining etiquette as the desire to be respectful, considerate, and honest toward those around us (and balance the three). Manners are defined as the ways in which these three things manifest themselves. With these definitions in mind, once can easily go through both the book and life having a good idea of what to do/not to do in a social setting.
Post has divided his book into three major sections: Everyday Live, Social Life, and On the Job. In each, he has several examples of "dos" and "don'ts" that seem silly to even address (loudly burping while at a business function, using deoderant, not calling female co-workers "Sweetie"), but he also has many techniques and guidelines that are quite helpful--this is especialy so for infrequent occasions like job interviews, attending a wedding, or "working a room" at a business-social function.
Another aspect of this book that I enjoyed was Post's writing style. Knowing that etiquette is often viewed as an "upper class" type thing, Post plays into this stereotype tonge-in-cheek as he uses fictional examples of visiting vacation homes on the beach and attending cricket matches. He also writes in a "high class" yet very readable style and uses humerous names for fictional charactes (Dan Petrefied, Heather Nervous, etc.).
While older gentlemen will probably have mastered many (but probably not all) of the manners and techniques Post writes about, younger men will probably benefit most from this book. Some can benefit from a little refining or incorporating techniques, others are probably doing just fine in social situations, but can use the confidence boost that this book can provide. Recommended.
on November 17, 2005
In this triumph of principles over dogma, the great-grandson of Emily Post provides a practical, no-nonsense, research-based guide for any man wishing to improving his relations with others at home, work, or elsewhere. This aptly-titled book first boils all of etiquette down to one timeless principle from Emily Post, and the rest of the book couches the most common situations ("common" according to survey) in terms of this principle.
I had several epiphanies because this book explains WHY. Now I understand the *reason* for putting the toilet seat down, not using profanity, etc. These eye-openers were not what I expected and make the manners obvious so that there's nothing to remember. There is a simple discussion of staring (ogling) and how to avoid it, and it works!
The author acknowledges that etiquette does not apply everywhere. The two other books on men's manners I looked at were somewhat dogmatic and arbitrary, and this was the jewel.
Contrary to another review, the only mention of a vacation house and cricket is on pages 120-121 as a hypothetical example of something that the invited guest is UN-familiar with. For the record, I find Peter Post to be remarkably accessible and down-to-earth. He writes openly about passing gas, spitting, and other "small grossnesses." (The message is HOW to do these things if you must, rather than just "don't do it.") I did not find any paragraph to be the least bit pretentious, condescending, snooty, or hoity-toity.
A man is more attractive when confident. This book triggered long-overdue changes in how others respond to me, and raised my dignity.
on December 5, 2003
Many men sabotage opportunities and hurt others because they are unaware of basic ettiquette. Recently I spoke with an employee who described inept, offensive behaviors of another male employee who is basically well meaning. I purchased this book for him, which he enjoyed very much and found enlightening. I also gave him Optimal Thinking: How To Be Your Best Self to learn how to make the be his best, optimize situations and bring out the best from others. I have seen a remarkable change in his demeanor so I recommend both of these books.
The title, for the first time EVER on a book like this, is accurate.
I, personally, was not taught the manners that I apparently should have been. I grew up in a place with little formality and little pretentiousness. As this book explains, manners are not a matter of pretentiousness, though. They are simply the behaviors that keep people from feeling uncomfortable. Once you begin to understand this, these quirky, silly rules become a little more fun and a lot more tolerable.
This book covers most of what you will need to know. Most of the things in here are common sense enough, but the one thing that it really helps with are circumstance-specific pointers (including a VERY useful guide of appropriate vs. inappropriate business/casual clothes).
One thing that it doesn't mention, but that may be well out of its purview, is that communication is an oft difficult but always essential factor of any relationship. ANY relationship, be it business, personal, or with an acquiantance or stranger. The fact of the matter is that this book is largely about interpersonal rules of communication (verbal and non), so it may not be as out of the way as it initially seems. A chapter or two, or pointers in the individual chapters, covering appropriate methods to discuss more situations would have made this from merely essential and really good to absolutely essential and superb.
This is about the only drawback, though. I read through this in less than a day. It is about 150 pages, so it should take most people four hours of reasonable concentration. Its pointers are invaluable, and most of them are simple enought that, once taught, you will never forget.
All told, a wonderful primer for any young man. I think that this would make an especially good gift for a boy at his bar mitzvah or at an early teen birthday. These are the skills by which a man is judged, and this book will polish your skills and make a more polite man out of you.
Cheers for Mr. Post. Excellently done, sir. Thank you for your advice. If I simply had your address, I would drop a hand-written note in the mail, with a stamp, to thank you again for taking your valuable time to write something so helpful to me, and to so many others.
Buy it, read it, learn it. Buy copies for others, but don't give yours away. Reread it periodically, JUST IN CASE. Excellent manners are not snooty or pretentious. They serve the purpose of allowing everyone to have a good time. Use them.
Thank you sir.
on February 6, 2004
First let me say I like this book. However there are a few small items that make the book a touch annoying.
First the author drops anecdotes or examples in bold print in the middle of his paragraphs. The anecdotes/examples would have been much better placed at the end of the paragraphs instead of mid thought.
Second the writer comes off sounding very pretentious with references to staying at friends beach houses and going to cricket matches. Great that you have a life that affords you cricket matches and Beach Houses; but can you stay focused on helping us poor slobs who want to do the right then when we go to a kegger? I found his references to a life most of us won?t know a little distracting ? like manners are for rich people.
Finally, The best thing in this entire book is the tipping section - who and how much to tip - this section alone has saved me the cost of the book.
on May 21, 2006
I bought this book hoping to be both entertained and instructed about how traditional gentlemanly ways should be applied or adapted to our times. In many respects, Essential Manners for Men did not disappoint; the author's impressive credentials are indeed sufficient to make one listen and take notes about everything etiquette.
The work is divided into three sections that include most situations in which a man will find himself--Everyday Life, Social Life and On the Job--making the book quite complete in terms of topics covered. And refreshingly, the author defines etiquette at the start of the book--as behavior containing the three ingredients of Consideration, Respect and Honesty. This definition is used as a prism to analyze the behaviors covered by the book, an approach that makes the advice consistent and easy to remember.
Each of the three major sections of the book are sub-divided into chapters covering more specific situations in which a man may face the forked path of right and wrong behavior--such as in the car, in the gym, on the phone, on a date, at the dinner-table, in an interview or at his office-desk. Besides the aforementioned Consideration, Respect and Honesty, Post covers each situation in light of two things: commonsense (which is not as common as many think) and what others, especially women, may find offensive, annoying or plain boorish. In support of his ideas, Post includes the results of many surveys showing such things as "what women find most annoying in a man," which are undoubtedly valuable tidbits for us chaps.
In general, the result is a collection of solid, basic advice on how not to impress others negatively. And basic though it may be, I defy any of us guys reading this to be able to check off every "do" as something we always remember to do--from leaving the toilet-seat down to stoically keeping our eyes on the "time elapsed" display while a modern Venus De Milo graces the StairMaster in front of ours.
This book may be especially valuable for guys on the younger side who are just starting out on the social scene and who may need a reminder that yes, their parents actually knew what they were talking about when they said that hogging the remote control would make a bad impression on your guests.
On the downside, I found some of the reading to be a little humorless and occasionally trite. I was hoping to hear Jeeves, half-smiledly guiding me through the timeless Ganymede club of gentlemanly behavior; but I sometimes got a stereotypical lecturing dad, a moralizing minister or a dry statistician telling me what polls say I should or should not do. Then, some of the advice was overstated. Yes, failing to leave the toilet-seat down is not terribly good manners; it will however not make or break your marriage--and if it does perhaps that says more about your partner than you.
But perhaps this point of criticism is a tad unfair, since the book actually delivers exactly what it promises. It is, after all, entitled "ESSENTIAL Manners for Men." As such, I think it should belong on the shelves of most of us guys, and it should be re-read from time to time. However, there are other books that make for a more interesting read and treat the subject from a more artistic/philosophical angle--such as the delightfully old-fashioned work by Willy Farnese "The True Gentleman," which (alas) is no longer in print.
on January 9, 2012
Whenever someone mentioned manners and etiquette to me, it always brought to my mind an image of some stuffy old English butler lecturing about how to correctly hold a glass of champagne vs. how to correctly hold a glass of wine, how to correctly fold a napkin and which fork goes with what kind of food. There is a little bit of that in this book, but most of the "rules" presented here are very down to earth and commonsense. Many of them I practice already (as do many other people, as far as I can tell), and the rest makes sense.
The best part of the book is that it goes into the philosophy behind good manners. For what is the reason for good manners? In the past I associated etiquette with high society people who made up a bunch of arbitrary rules to give them an excuse to look down upon the "swine" from the lower (poorer) classes. No doubt, it does happen that some people practice etiquette to make themselves feel superior and to cynically manipulate others through the aura of sophistication they create around themselves, but such people will be sooner or later detected for what they are and rejected.
Good manners do not exist to put people down and reinforce class division. Quite to the contrary, they were created to show respect and consideration towards others. By being well mannered we (hopefully) create harmonious relationships. Displaying good manners does not bring any tangible benefits (although it might on a date or job interview) beyond having peace of mind from avoiding conflicts. Of course, good manners make us (hopefully) likeable, which can have positive consequences down the road.
Think about it, if there is a conflict between you and another, which is better? To act with politeness and consideration, or be rude and aggressive? The former is likely to resolve the conflict, the latter is almost certain to aggravate it. And even if being polite and well mannered does not solve the problem, at least you have the satisfaction of having acted like a gentleman and avoided giving in to baser instincts.
Good manners are essentially about being friendly and considerate. Even if you do not know all the rules (which are not set in stone anyway) but are well meaning and sincere, people will forgive your faux pas and find you likeable. On the other hand, if you know all there is to know about etiquette and master the rules perfectly, but do not care at all about other people, it won't take long before people see past your pretensions.
The book is short (my edition is only 194 pages) and it is fun and easy to read. I absolutely recommend it. There is only one thing I strongly disagree about. In the chapter about tipping, the author says that if we are treated badly in a restaurant, we still must leave a tip (although a reduced one) and, if we want, ask to speak to manager to file a complaint.
Are you serious?! Are you telling me that if the service is so bad that I want to file a complaint, I must still leave a tip? No way.
on December 15, 2010
My parents bought this as a Christmas present for me back when I was in high school, and I've found many of the lessons I learned in it to be very helpful and useful in dealing with people in a variety of situations. The examples are funny, it's an easy read, and it effectively gives pointers on how to behave like a gentleman.
I've had many opportunities to use the lessons in this book (meeting the girlfriend's parents, being a houseguest, etc) and have received many compliments on having good manners which seem to have disappeared for many young men.
I strongly recommend that every male buy this book; parents of high school males should get this for their sons.
on November 3, 2015
Gave as a gift to my man. Not because he is ill-mannered. It is very insightful information of how to handle various situations in the workplace, out in public and with friends. Everyone should have a manners book.
on November 23, 2010
Peter Post, one of Emily Post's great-grandchildren and director of the Emily Post Institute, has written a book I wish I had read earlier in life. As described in its subtitle, the book is about what to do and when to do it, and also, why. It is this latter quality that makes the book much more than a guide to dos and don'ts, and rather, a compelling, near-philosophical essay. It is through the principles and reasons given that the book guides behaviors in business and personal relationships. By stating up front, in the preface, the goals of consideration, respect, and honesty, book informs situations well beyond standards such as pulling a chair out for a woman and thanking company personnel for a job interview.
In less than 200 pages, Essential Manners covers nearly every personal and business situation in which a man may find himself. The three major sections, Daily Life, Social Life, and On the Job, cover areas such as helping in the kitchen, dating, and small talk at work. The twenty-five chapters and their sub-headings are clearly labeled in the Table of Contents so the more time-pressed (or less patient) reader can turn immediately to an area of interest. For example, Chapter 10, "The Sporting Life," discusses the importance of friendship in dropping a member from a tennis foursome; Chapter 11, "Parents and Kids," discusses the need to help with child-rearing and to be aware of how the new responsibilities can affect pre-parenting activities such as canning strawberries. Taking a more patient approach, starting from the beginning will reward the reader with surprises about little things that matter in a big way: wiping equipment and not staring in a gymnasium.
Aside from its organization, wit, and breadth of scope, the book's real charms are its sense of purpose and its many examples. With consideration, respect, honesty and understanding in one' s intentions, the reader need not remember all the detailed instructions, as many will come more naturally.
Some readers will benefit most from an understanding of respect, and how it helps frame more congenial and productive personal relationships. Other readers will see how consideration and honesty will help deepen personal relationships. Mr. Post's book helps the careful reader understand these issues through example. My copy, with its pencil marks and notes, will be kept and re-read, as a handbook for how to get along better with others and to find more in life.