Etiquette

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The Pocket Butler's Guide to Travel

The Pocket Butler's Guide to Travel

Essential Advice for Every Traveller, from Planning and Packing to Making the Most of Your Trip
edition:Hardcover
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The Inviting Life

The Inviting Life

An Inspirational Guide to Homemaking, Hosting and Opening the Door to Happiness
edition:Hardcover
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Excerpt

A Digestif

It’s a given that when we host a party, or attend one, we’re expected to put our best face forward: we’re at ease, we look good, we’re smiling and welcoming, we’re showing genuine interest in other people’s comfort, and we’re being generous and helpful. It’s not realistic to maintain these levels of grace and charm around the clock, day in and day out, but it isn’t a bad notion to have that ideal in our minds as a guide and at least to strive for that, not just at a black-tie event or a community barbeque, but everywhere—at the office, on public transport, in an overcrowded shopping mall. For one thing, it’s a good way to snap ourselves out of being grouch almighty or from acting like a sulky opera heroine whenever we find ourselves in situations that push our buttons, say in a traffic jam or dealing with a customer-service rep over the telephone.

I suppose every era has the same complaint (at least somewhere on the planet), but I have to say that in my lifetime, the world has never felt more uncivil or full of hatred, violence, and fear. The Middle East is a disaster; much of Africa is in strife; Europe is straining at the seams; the states of America feel about as united as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle spilled out of their box onto the floor; the World Wide Web is a perpetual warzone of differing opinions and standards of behaviour. Not that anyone ever said life was all roses, the world one giant, fragrant garden of justice and kindness. Evil is always with us, jerks always among us, and every era has its reasons for getting up in arms.

Thomas Hobbes famously wrote, “No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” If you want to get depressed, it doesn’t take much. It’s overwhelming, too, because when the world is in so much trouble all at once, those of us who care can feel powerless and wonder how we can begin to try to fix it.

I’m hoping that the answer is “little by little.” Our tiny, so-called insignificant daily acts—helping someone across the street, watering a flower, making a good soup—are cracks in the gloom that let in light. The more rays we allow through, perhaps the sooner the skies may clear. “That best portion of a man’s life, his little nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love,” as Wordsworth phrased it, is, at the end of the day, what’s at the heart of hosting and making home.
These are the thoughts and actions that can flip the coin from hostility to hospitality side up. These oft-dismissed activities in fact can be important leadership roles, major civilizing forces vital to the health of society and an essential place to start taking back power and changing the world.

Ten Ways to Make Life More Inviting Right Now
1. Get in touch with someone you haven’t seen in a while and find out how they are (especially if it’s to heal an old wound).
2. Cook something delicious and invite someone over to eat it, even if it’s just a baked potato.
3. Clean something dirty, even if it’s just a doorknob.
4. Fix something broken, even if it’s just a fingernail.
5. Make something ugly or banal into something beautiful, even if it’s just your thoughts.
6. Say something nice, even if it’s just a whisper to yourself.
7. Do something kind, even if it’s just to smile at a stranger.
8. Give a thoughtful gift, even if it’s just a wildflower.
9. Lend a hand, even if it’s just holding open a door.
10. Write down ten more ways to make life inviting, and start making them happen right now.

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The Butler Speaks

The Butler Speaks

A Return to Proper Etiquette, Stylish Entertaining, and the Art of Good Housekeeping
edition:Paperback
also available: Hardcover
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The Pocket Butler

The Pocket Butler

A Compact Guide to Modern Manners, Business Etiquette and Everyday Entertaining
edition:Hardcover
tagged : etiquette
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Chairing a Meeting

Chairing a Meeting

The quick & essential guide
edition:Paperback
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The Fabulous Girl's Code Red

The Fabulous Girl's Code Red

A Guide to Grace Under Pressure
edition:Paperback
tagged : etiquette
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Excerpt

Introduction
Two wise women once said that manners make you sexy. Oh, yeah, that was us. In our first book, The Fabulous Girl’s Guide to Decorum, we set out to create a primer for women who crave both style and civility. We wanted to declare that far from making you a retiring bore, manners will make you a better and more socially desirable person.

In our own lives, there were so many women of great charm, wit and decorum that we wanted to celebrate the type: the Fabulous Girl. FG to her friends. She’s that stylish, witty and caring friend you rely on to make parties more fun and disappointments less painful. She is not interested in the much more travelled road of bad behaviour. She chooses to set off down another path, that of civility. The FG knows how to get the most out of life while still remaining a caring part of her society.

But it’s hard. Everyday we all encounter countless acts of selfishness and bad behaviour. Whether it’s a friend who is always late, a mate who forgets to introduce you at parties, the stranger who cuts you off on the road or a colleague who takes credit for your work, etiquette is at an all-time low. At a time when we so desperately need civility, we find an intense focus on personal satisfaction in its place. Although bad manners are not appealing, they are increasingly common. And who wants to be common?

Not the FG. Rather than become cynical as a result of the rude old world she lives in, she rallies to the cause of decorum. The Fabulous Girl is passionate. She may be well-mannered, but she is never mild-mannered. Her zest for life is one of her most charming attributes. It also means she finds herself in extreme situations. Despite the best-laid plans (or because of the best-laid plans), sometimes life spins out of control. An FG does not live to avoid these sorts of adventures. In love and work and in her friendships, the FG throws herself in deep -- which can bring her big success as well as, sometimes, big disappointments. The FG knows that her word to live by is “decorum,” not “doormat,” so she tackles these ups and downs with equal vigour. She defines for herself what it means to have it all, and she looks for balance among the jumble of responsibilities and relationships that make up her life. An FG never shies away from this challenge. She knows that these adventures are the very fabric of her great big life.

The Fabulous Girl’s Code Red is geared toward this very Fabulous Girl. The one who uses her style and social decorum to cope with life’s inevitable rollercoaster ride. We can all behave beautifully when things are going our way, can’t we? But an FG wants to maintain her grace even under extreme circumstances. Some crises and turning points will come as a result of her evolving life -- big jobs, big relationships -- and some crazy and uncomfortable moments -- cash windfalls, getting fired, discovering a philandering spouse -- will arise in ways that are beyond her control. These are the moments that really count -- when it’s hard, when you’d rather be selfish or rude than extend yourself for another person, when you just feel like stamping your little foot -- and they are true tests of character. But it is this ability to behave with grace under pressure, as well as her style, manners and wit, that sets the Fabulous Girl apart and, yes, makes her sexy. And just to add further illustration to this truth, we’ve included the story of the Fabulous Girl throughout the book. As she tackles the extremes of her fictional world she provides the perfect example of how to live life with verve.

CHAPTER ONE: The Workplace

What did you do to your hair? It looks good,”

Cheryl, a senior editor at Smack! magazine, squealed at me as she ran past my desk. Despite the backhanded compliment, I had to admit that I was having an unusually good hair day. Normally my hair misbehaves a few times a week, generally when I have a can’t-miss cocktail party to attend. But that day my tresses looked fab. I chose to take my good hair as an omen.

I loved my job as associate editor for the magazine. Smack! is known in the rag trade as a general-interest magazine, but I’d been hired to give it specific interest: young and hip. In other words, it was my job to tell our middle-aged readership about what the pretty young things were drinking and shopping for, where they went to listen to music and get their hair done. I’d been at it for over a year. And while I was happy, I was beginning to want to move my work in another direction -- upwards, that is -- but unfortunately I couldn’t yet grasp exactly where up was.

Whack! Something walloped my desk with a mighty slap.

“Do you read Dudley’s page?”

There stood John Bradley, Smack!’s editor-in-chief, the big boss, with a wad of rolled-up newspaper in his hand. I wondered if he was now going to swat me on the nose with it.

“He’s funny. Your writing should be more like his. You know, chatty.”

"But he’s a gossip columnist.”

“And?”

“And I’m not.” I tried not to sound annoyed, but lately Bradley seemed to find fault in whatever I did or didn’t do.

“Well, if you’d rather have dull copy. Did you dye your hair?”

“No, it’s just a good–”

Bradley hurried away, leaving the offending paper on my desk. Dudley’s gossip column ran in a national newspaper. Since being on the job, I’d become an observer of sorts. Being out many nights a week gave me plenty of opportunities to people watch. I’d met Dudley on many occasions and he was not what you’d call gentlemanly. I wasn’t really on his radar -- he would barely say hello to me. And now there was Dudley’s sucky face sneering at me.

Truth be told, I hated his column. It was brash, tacky and rude. He was not the sort of gossip columnist who lived to suck up to local celebrities, he was the kind of creep who wormed his way into parties thrown by the well-known only to turn around and mock their choice of wine or fashion sense in his next column. But like the dutiful worker bee, I read Dudley’s words, most of it meaningless drivel. Meaningless, that is, until I got to the last paragraph, which was horrifying: “TV producer Bingo Jones was all hot and bothered with local celeb news babe Muffie (first name only please) at last night’s opening of the so-hip-it-hurts eaterie Spanks. If Bingo’s regular chica, mag art director Elenor Brown, had eye-spied the duo giving each other a good tongue lashing, it would have been spanks all right.”

Now, I’ve never been a fan of Bingo. He was an ill-mannered lout, the kind of guy who took cell calls at dinner parties, was rude to waitresses and, worse, was a terrible boyfriend. I knew this last fact to be utterly true because Bingo was in a long-term relationship, off and on, off and on, with my best friend Elenor. And the fact that Bingo was now a confirmed cheating bastard (during a supposed “on” moment) really riled me. As did Elenor’s public humiliation at the keyboard of Dudley.

My first reaction? Poor Elenor! My second -- I would never stoop to those depths in my writing! Bradley would have to find another writer to dish the dirt. The fact that I wanted to keep my job, however, prevented me from marching into his office to tell him so. I was hoping he’d just forget the entire conversation and continue with his latest idea for making over Smack!, which was more sex and gardening.

But first and foremost, I had to reach Elenor. She would need her friends. I called her work, her home and her cell. No answer. Which meant one thing: Elenor had read Dudley’s column. There was only one other person who might have known her whereabouts, our other best friend, Missy. I dialed.

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