Modern Manners: Tools to Take You to the Top


New Yorkers—and let’s face it, today’s youth—are preceded by the unfortunate reputation of being brisk and rude (we’re just in a rush!). And, while we’re not apologizing for our breakneck schedules and attitudes, it wouldn’t hurt anyone to brush up on etiquette. Thankfully, a refresher course on the rules of sophisticated socializing has landed on our doorstep, care of one Dorothea Johnson—the sought-after Washington, DC etiquette expert—and her granddaughter, the one and only Liv Tyler. So, before you interact with another member of humanity, take a peek inside Modern Manners: Tools to Take You To The Top:

The DOs:

“…maintain eye contact while shaking hands and greeting someone.”

“…show respect for the invisible personal space of others; keep your body at a minimum of about 18 inches (1½  feet) between you and the other person.”

“…let the person finish talking before you chime in.”

“…answer the phone with confidence and a smile, because that smile can be heard.”

“…return calls as soon as possible.”

“…use spell-check and proofread your message before sending.”

“…be aware that all feedback won’t be positive, because there are envious and unkind people who thrive on negativity.”

“…step aside before boarding a train to allow exiting passengers to depart. Rushing to get on board is not only rude but also can cause someone to fall.”

“…use earphones when listening to music.”

“…take small bites, and you’ll find it’s easier to join the conversation.”

“…keep the toast short and simple. Use the three B’s: Begin—Be Brief—Be Seated.”


The DON’Ts:

“…tilt your head to the side—unless, of course, you’re flirting. That’s a no-no in the business arena.”

“…put your hands in your pockets. People may wonder what you’re hiding.”

“…panic if you’ve forgotten someone’s name. Say something kind, like, ‘I’m sorry, I’m a little forgetful at the moment; please remind me of your name.”

“…make jokes or wisecracks about a person’s name—it’s rude.”

“…offer the ‘fingerella’ handshake to anyone, regardless of age or gender. The giver of a fingerella handshake extends the right hand with the thumb down, an fingers curled, which invites the receiver to grab the fingertips. The receiver wants to shake your hand, not kiss it!”

“…use ALL CAPS—it’s like shouting.”

“…send confrontational or insulting e-mails, and don’t respond to any sent to you.”

“…hit the Reply All button if you want only the sender to receive your reply.”

“…blot lipstick on a cloth napkin or use it as a handkerchief.”

“…talk with your mouth full of food, or chew with your mouth open.”

“…text at the table.”

“…place any personal items on the table, including your cell phone.”

Enjoy. Sincerely yours, ITG

For more tips from Liv, order Modern Manners: Tools To Take You To The Top.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Jessica Rose

    I think everyone should re-read the rules once in a while....manners cost nothing but are priceless when used.

  • The Fashion Informer

    Thanks, Liv. But I already have a mom.

  • Robin

    The other intern at my office needs to read this. Is it proper to have it appear anonymously on her desk one day? Maybe then she'll stop looking at lolcat and funnypics during depositions.

  • Katy

    A thousand times yes to "don't place any personal items on the table, including your cell phone.” Whatever is happening in iPhone-land will still be happening after we've finished our drinks/meal, so leave that baby in your purse.

  • Sarah

    Thanks a lot! This is more important than anything. Even more important than makeup and clothes!

  • Charlotte

    “…place any personal items on the table, including your cell phone.” Oh I wish, but have little faith, that our generation is able to let go of this terrible habit. It get's to me every time this happens. Let's hope Modern Manners will kick its little behind.

  • Alice

    such great tips!

  • Jane S.

    Sorry, but I love to put my hands in my pockets!

  • Cassie Piasecki

    I wrote a book last year on the same subject called BizEtiquette. I agree with all of the tips mentioned above. Like books on diet and exercise, there can't be enough books on etiquette. Some people need to hear it differently!

  • Guest

    Excellent! I will be distributing a number of these books at Christmas.

  • Aubrey Green

    the handshake is so, so, so, so important. I really don't understand a non-firm handshake, especially from a man.

  • babs

    Don't say "no problem" when someone says "thank you"? Getting kinda fussy here. The posture ones are also a bit much.

    The others seem a bit obvious but I suppose there are still lots of people who interrupt others all the time, don't let others board the train first, etc.

  • Emily

    As a woman, I hate that men expect a weak handshake from me and then actually say "woah firm grip!" and are surprised by what i think is just a normal handshake

  • zozo

    Meh, I like putting my hands in my pockets. I think a woman who does this can come off confident but non-threatening in a business environment. I'm also kinda sick of all the handshake talk. I wish the Western world was into bowing. I always have to resist the urge to wash my hands after handshakes.

  • Kate

    Although, feedback can be positive but still educational at the same time. It's all in the delivery -- I was recently given some "feedback" by a professor, and his tone and body language made me feel like he wanted to stab be in the eye with his pencil... It wasn't very constructive, and I think he could have related the same message in a much more positive way. So to me, this advice just reminds us all, including young people, to have tougher skin! People won't always be nice, and you can't let that get to you.

  • Camellia

    I find that people are becoming more and more lacking in manners, and as our modern society keeps evolving, it is important to keep up with etiquette. A timely reminder that we must consider the feelings of others, in an age of me, me, me/ instant gratification and the sense of entitlement that is so common.

    Sadly, good manners stand out. In times gone by, bad manners stood out. Why? Because now, people self-justify their actions with an attitude of, "well I don't see anything wrong with my actions so I'm going to do it anyway, regardless".

  • Andrea Fer

    I agree too with all of these, even my own mother texts at the table and it drives me crazzzyyyy. Unless there is something gravely important for that day then well, i understand!

    Andrea Fer

  • Glorya F. Cabrera

    In this modern time, most people over look manners thinking that's it's okay to text at the table, or scream in public, there has to be guidelines for social decorum. I've witness it happening repeatedly in New York streets. I only wish this could truly get to the people who need it the most.


Modern Manners: Tools to Take You To The Top