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Modern Manners: Tools to Take You to the Top Hardcover – October 29, 2013
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About the Author
Founder of The Protocol School of Washington, DOROTHEA JOHNSON has presented seminars and briefings on manners to more than 100,000 individuals worldwide. She has authored five books, including the bestselling The Little Book of Etiquette, and has appeared as an etiquette expert on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
LIV TYLER is an internationally acclaimed actress, whose films include Stealing Beauty,
Empire Records, Armageddon, That Thing You Do!, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Strangers, The Incredible Hulk, and Robot and Frank. She lives in New York City with her son.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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Modern Manners - Meeting and Greeting:
Most people are taught to 'shake hands like a man' (meaning a firm grip) and to say Hello and Thank you during introductions. There's a little more to making a good first impression and I can't bring myself to use that one cliche about first impressions, there's a lot of truth to it. So she covers introductions really well. It covers Handshakes, body language, eye contact and appropriate dress.
Unlike many other books she covers the reasons why (so that you're not reading Manners for Snob's sake) she suggests what she does and it's in a very reader friendly format with summaries that make it even easier to read. Moving on to Introductions, that was perhaps my favorite part of the book. Have you ever been in an awkward situation in either business or a personal setting b/c your host wasn't introducing you to people? I have and it's no fun. I'm pretty cautious to be courteous but there are several people involved in an introduction and getting it right is critical if you want people to feel comfortable. You can read the specifics yourself but she does a great job here.
She then goes into several different topics among which include handshakes and behavior in formal and informal situation (I already mentioned business and personal ) and how to interact in groups that include people from different countries or nationalities. Having traveled a good bit I was familiar with most of them but it was a good reminder and again, it's so easy to read and synthesized so well you'd do well to keep a copy around.
She has a section on awkward conversations as part of her overall discussion on conversation topics that anyone would do well to read. Most people know how to deal with situations where everyone is friendly and outgoing. When it comes to hostile situations or awkward ones, there's not as much guidance. This book provides just enough advice about how to navigate those.
Then she moves on to two that everyone should read - Children and Technology. We all known that whipping out a phone and texting in the middle of a meeting is rude yet so many people do it. So many people let their children run wild or are so called helicopter parents that having kids over can be very awkward. She really goes into the importance of getting this right and in a very non-judgmental way, she tells you the do's and don'ts which everyone would be well advised to follow (even if it conflicts with your pet view of parenting ).
The book then covers things like Answering Machine/Voice Mail messages on both ends. It covers texts and phone calls. It covers "office voice" and being considerate of your coworkers with very practical advice on how to handle these issues.
One really interesting surprise was around doors and elevators. How many times have you been standing there holding a door open waiting for someone to go through while they're doing the same and everyone just stands there paralyzed for a few seconds or longer? It happens to me constantly. She really walks you through how to handle and avoid this situation and for that alone, I'd give the book a five.
The other main area is around meals. Thank goodness someone wrote a down to earth book covering this. It's so awkward having people argue over the check and often it's for good reason (you have a friend that doesn't tip but insists on picking up the check, you have a friend that orders the most expensive stuff on the menu when someone else is buying etc.). Too many books get caught up on using the right fork or other formalities that don't face most of us outside of the country club and are silly formalities versus pragmatic ones aimed at making everyone comfortable. Again, this alone warrants the price of the book.
By now you might be catching a theme in each paragraph I wrote. Each piece of the book is gold and if nothing else was in the book I'd still be glad I bought it. It's so easy to read you can consume it in an hour even if you're a slow reader and the visual aids make it very easy to learn and commit to memory if you don't already know the issues. If you have friends with bad manners, it's a great and subtle gift that may help them overcome some of their more annoying traits (or your own as the case may be).
The book is written for young professionals just beginning their careers, though Johnson maintains that the book can also be useful to more seasoned professionals, too. Really anyone who is looking to advance in his or her career will benefit, since basic manners help you appear confident and polished and will naturally make you seem more competent.
Modern Manners is divided into six parts:
MEETINGS AND GREETINGS covers how to greet people, make introductions, shake hands, etc. ON THE JOB talks about how to interview for a job, what to wear to business events (office attire vs. black tie, etc.), how to properly answer phones and leave voicemails, and how to establish rapport with coworkers without crossing boundaries. ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS discusses when to use (and not use) your electronic devices. Johnson also talks about texting and email etiquette. OUT AND ABOUT very briefly touches on topics like who in the group opens the door to a restaurant, where you are supposed to sit in a taxi, and how to enter and exit an elevator.
DINING SKILLS is one of the most interesting and widely-relevant sections. In it, Johnson discusses how to arrive at your table, how to excuse yourself from the table, where to put your purse when you're seated, what basic (and even not-so-basic) place settings look like and indicate for the meal to come, where to place your napkin, American vs. European styles of eating, how to hold chopsticks, and how to eat various foods. There is a lot of info in this section that most anyone can benefit from, and I learned a lot.
THE SAVVY HOST is another helpful section that details how to, well, act like a good host. This part covers topics like how to pay for your table's bill, how to split the check, how to politely refuse wine (yeah right), how to make a toast, and how to tip.
The book offers a lot of helpful information, but it is in no way exhaustive. If you've read other etiquette books before this one, you're probably going to be familiar with most of the information in here. However, even though that was the case for me, I still learned some new things. And, honestly, it was just fun refreshing my etiquette knowledge by reading this short, prettily-packaged book. I could see this book being a great high school or college graduation gift.
Most recent customer reviews
It's easy, and if there was a second book with more details I would definitely buy it!Read more