When my mother bought me an etiquette book four years ago the Christmas after I graduated from college, I couldn’t have been more insulted. Raised in a family where thank you notes had to be written and us kids always left a note on the counter if we were going somewhere, why did I need a book to tell me to be nice to people?
I took out Emily Post’s Etiquette a few days ago in an effort to figure out support group etiquette (I’ll make a long story short: there is none). I then began perusing the book, looking for money-related manners. There was no one section on the subject but tips about handling money matters (who pays on dates, how much to spend on a wedding gift) were peppered throughout the book, with a very comprehensive index so you can find them all.
In short, the Golden Rule of Money (my wording) from this book is that finances are never to be discussed outside of very close family. (Maybe that’s why there is quite a powerful group of personal finance bloggers online; it’s almost voyeuristic to be reading about someone else’s money!) I must have read the Golden Rule of Money awhile ago because if you’ve met me in a social situation the last few years, my initial question is not what you do for work but something along the lines of "So what do you do for fun around here?" or "Are you originally from this area?" Often what people do for work will tell you little interesting about them anyway.
So what about the book in general? To be honest, I think more people could stand to skim through it. It’s pretty thick but does cover a lot of ground. I think in general many younger people (my age group included) need to learn a little more about cell phone etiquette in particular. I have mentally written off people for taking calls while out with me or talking loudly in line at the grocery store. But that’s not to say I don’t have my faults. Everytime I pick up the book, I learn something new, too. I actually use it as a reference more than I thought I would. If I recieved it as a gift now, I would be much more grateful.
Knowing manners allows you to place value on thoughtful actions and gestures and not necessarily throw money at a problem. (Inappropriately expensive gifts, for example, are a liability in the manners world, not your ticket to the top.) I may not exude fine breeding but I can be thrown in with fancy people (or very unfancy people) and feel confident of my actions. Who knows how many connections simple manners can get you, how many jobs or raises or other compensation will eventually come your way because you exude politeness? I can say with confidence that it’s gotten me places.
Speaking of money, the book itself is fairly thrifty. At at less than $30, it makes an appropriate gift for mostly anyone.