Modern Manners (★★★★☆)

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Dorothea Johnson & Liv Tyler   *   Potter Style   *   October 29, 2013   *   176 Pages

Advanced Reader Copy provided through Amazon Vine.

I was surprised to see Liv Tyler’s name listed as an author of this book. I thought there was no way I could be thinking of the right Liv Tyler, famous actress (and daughter of the even more famous Steven Tyler, lead singer for rock band Aerosmith). But, no, it IS that Liv Tyler. Apparently, Liv’s grandmother is Dorothea Johnson, a renowned etiquette expert (yes, that’s a legit job that exists). Johnson does most of the heavy lifting in this book, which is probably as it should be, but Tyler chimes in every once in a while with a short thought or anecdote.

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.

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