We know not to put elbows on the table or talk with a mouth full of tofu (that’s food, isn’t it?). Or get into a fistfight over cashmere sweaters on sale at Macy’s.
But etiquette does matter, according to Anna Post, great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post, who has literally written the book on this subject.
As co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette 18th Edition, Anna Post covers everything about being polite in a modern world — from saying “no, thank you” to food you hate at a dinner party to returning wedding gifts if you divorce (Kim Kardashian, see page 513).
“Etiquette helps create the kind of society we want to live in, because small acts of rudeness add up,” she explains. Note to co-worker who gives herself pedicures in her cube: She means you.
So here are Anna’s top three rules that we present in this QuirkOut! etiquette guide.
Timing is everything
Anna’s No. 1 tip for multitasking women is “Be on time.” She explains, “It respects everybody’s busy schedule. This means not reading ‘one more email’ or answering the phone when it’s time to walk out the door.”
We agree with Anna. Waiting for a friend at Starbucks is not only frustrating, it absolutely forces us to eat another blueberry muffin.
Our QuirkOut solution is to move all our clocks at home ahead 10 minutes.
In the car, we put the time ahead by 20 minutes to stop us from stopping at 7-Eleven for a Slurpee.
And just to be 100 percent sure this works, we hired a computer programmer to change the time on our laptops, smartphones and the neighbor’s dog that barks religiously at 6 a.m.
Yes, it costs a little money, but think of all the apologies it’s saved us.
‘Be in the Moment’ for a Moment
Anna’s next rule is to “concentrate on the conversation at hand. Women are multitaskers by necessity, but when you’re with other people, turn off the cellphones and iPads.”
Judy has a QuirkOut solution for her phone addiction. She puts the cell in a coin purse, which goes inside her makeup bag, which is zipped into the side compartment of her handbag.
That phone is on Fort Knox lockdown. To check messages, she’d have to hire Tom Cruise and the “Mission: Impossible” team for a covert mission.
Poor Judy. As the anxiety keeps building, she wants her phone. She can’t wait to leave Coffee with Friends to get to Words with Friends. We hope that next time Tom will “decide to accept the mission” and Judy won’t be so tempted to self-destruct.
When it comes to children, Anna’s advice is to practice for situations that will be challenging. Or at least more challenging than usual.
“If you’re going to be taking a trip,” she advises, “practice so you can keep (the kids) calm on the plane.” Go for a drive and play “the quiet game” where everybody is silent until you get home. Then play the game while up in the air.
We plan to use this idea to solve many etiquette problems.
Imagine playing the “quiet game” at a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party. Or to avoid a screaming match in the toy aisle at Target, even when the kids spot the latest version of “Just Dance” for Wii.
Ah, silence, the holy grail for parents. From our last nerve, we thank you, Anna, for this golden tip.