(Courtesy www.missmanners.com)

Judith Martin is better known as Miss Manners, the etiquette expert whose advice column appears in more than 200 newspapers in the U.S. and abroad. In her latest book, “Miss Manners Minds Your Business,” co-written with her son Nicholas Ivor Martin, she explores the ins and outs of workplace conduct, from messy cubicles to office romance. Miss Manners joins us in studio to take your calls — just don’t forget to say “please” and “thank you.”

Interview Highlights

Guests:
Judith Martin, nationally syndicated etiquette columnist known as "Miss Manners," and author of "Miss Manners Minds Your Business"

  • Jon Gold

    I miss all that face-slapping in the movies, serious and comedic…is there ever an occasion where a slap in the face is appropriate?

  • trite

    Miss Manners,

    What do you think of wedding registries?

  • Sylvia de Trinidad

    At the risk of being a labeled a meter maid, I would request that Miss Manners refer to our country as “the U.S.” or the “United States of America,” not “America.”

    • Another Mike

      Is there any other America the US could be confused with?

      • Robert Thomas

        Unlikely, but I often stumble over this, deciding which is appropriate, especially when writing.

        However, I do find myself less charitable when Secretaries of the Treasury, high-ranking advisors and even the President of the United States seem to have trouble successfully getting “United States” out of their mouths. Instead, I often hear the hideous and disrespectful “Nice-stace”.

        Offenders, you know who you are.

        • Another Mike

          The problem with saying the “United States” is the chance of confusion with the Estados Unidos de México.

          • Stuart22

            A different but nonetheless similar annoyance – people who correct me when I pronounce words like ‘Nicaragua’ in a typical, americanized (sorry Sylvia) fashion, rather than how it would be pronounced by a native Nicaraguan.

            So I then asked him in what city and country is found the Eiffel Tower…. his response, as expected, was the good old american ‘Pair-us, Fr-ants’ rather than the french accented ‘Pah-ree, Frahnss’. LOL

          • Sylvia de Trinidad

            Stuart: You know what’s really funny – If a word in a Spanish dictionary has “Amer,” it means (meant – dictionaries have become much more nuanced) that it is an “Americanism,” meaning its origin is in the New World, i.e., native tongue such as Nahuatl. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indigenous_languages_of_the_Americas

      • Sylvia de Trinidad

        Many people refer to the US as “America.” However, it would not be incorrect to say that Canada is also part of America, as are Chile and Bolivia. Italians do not refer to their country as “Europe.”

        • Another Mike

          The other historic name for the US is Columbia (District of Columbia, Columbia University, Columbia River, Columbia Records, Columbia Pictures, the Columbia Broadcasting System, etc.) I would have no problem switching from America to Columbia.

          • Sylvia de Trinidad

            I am amazed! It was only recently that I realized that the spelling for our neighbor to the south is Colombia. Do you know how long and when the Columbia name was in use?
            Spanish Cristóbal Colón
            Italian Cristoforo Colombo
            Portuguese Cristóvão Colombo
            Does the above cover the main colonial languages of the Americas?

          • Sylvia de Trinidad

            I am amazed! It was only recently that I realized that the spelling for our neighbor to the south is Colombia. Do you know how long and when the Columbia name was in use?
            Spanish Cristóbal Colón
            Italian Cristoforo Colombo
            Portuguese Cristóvão Colombo
            Does the above cover the main colonial languages of the Americas?

  • Phillip

    What is a proper way for a company to ask ” please like us on Facebook” ?

    • Noelle

      And what’s the proper way to ask someone to stop checking Facebook constantly on their smartphones?

  • ahpook courtney

    In the late 70s I worked for a major airline. On our personnel evaluation form people were rated in many categories including Appearance and in the box for below standard it said “Dresses in poor taste” I thought this was hysterical. They later changed it to “Unprofessionally”

  • David

    Wedding Etiquette: If you formally decline to attend a friend/acquaintance’s wedding, are you still obligated to purchase the new couple a gift (just for being on the invitation list)?

    • Sylvia de Trinidad

      No, you are not under any obligation to provide a gift.

  • Mary Van Note

    I work with some socially awkward people. They never ask how my weekend was, they knew it was my birthday and didn’t wish my a happy birthday. I’ve been trying to lead by example, but is there something else I could do to obtain a friendlier workplace?

    • Mary Van Note

      Also I should mention that when I ask them how their weekend was they don’t ask me about mine.

      • Another Mike

        Welcome to nerdland.

        If you’re talking about the workplace, their response will likely be that they’re there for work, not for chitchat. Consider a career change, or at least an industry change.

    • Albert

      Beware nerds who pretend to have social skills.
      When people pretend to be what they are not, they may be scamming you.

      • Mary Van Note

        I don’t even consider them all that nerdy! I don’t work at a software or internet company.

  • clumsycontessa

    I agree with many things that Ms. Manners is saying, but earlier in the program she brought up the example of not trusting a doctor who dresses in jeans and t-shit to surgery. To judge someone who has spent years to earn their M.d just because of how they dress instead of their competence is pretty rude. People should be judged on their actions and word, not because of how they dress.

    • Another Mike

      Infection rates have gone way down since surgeons switched from coat and tie to those shapeless plain smocks.

  • Fay Nissenbaum

    The late Andy Rooney in one of his TV segments, opined on “over-thanking in the news business”. He said, why are they always thanking each for reading the news? That’s what they’re well paid to do and they could read more news in the little time they have on air if they would drop the obsequiousness.

    It reminds me of the current trend, heard nowhere more than on NPR, of the “thank you SO much” phenomenon. The intensifying “SO” before “much” is now heard in every NPR interview. “Thank you SO much” has pushed aside every other means of thanking. To my ear, the “so much” is gushy and falsely chirpy. Oh, how my ears would love to hear a simple, “thank you for being a guest on our show”… “Thank you” is a time-honored phrase and it should not be dismissed as inadequate to the inflationary “thank you SO MUCH”. Insincere thanking is grandstanding.

    • Robert Thomas

      Fay, do yow notice the wretched “thanks,” that people offer as a closing salutation to their email or allow their mail program to append automatically? The suggestion is that you’ve pre-agreed to a request that you haven’t yet considered – it’s annoyingly presumptuous.

      Worse still is closing with “thanks in advance”, to which I find myself reflexively muttering “**** You”.

      • Another Mike

        Think of it as “Thanks for reading,” “Thanks for your time,” or “Thanks for considering my request.”

      • Fay Nissenbaum

        I am reminded of the late, great William Safire who once wrote a, ‘On Language’ column on “the dining imperative”, where we are told by servers to “enjoy your dinner.” The examples you give fall into the imperative category, I believe. So thank you for doing what I want you to do and you have no choice – in advance!

  • Julia

    I find that people now will cut in front of me to go out a door (office, restaurant, etc) Is “Ladies First” a thing of the past?

    • Another Mike

      Nobody should cut in front of anybody, because to do so denies the human dignity of the other person.

  • Robert Thomas

    This is an observation that dovetails with gender disparity in my line of work.

    I’m not a (shudder) software engineer, I’m an electrical engineer. When I started working in the 1970s, I had to wear a necktie to work. This wasn’t that awful, since I like neckties. However, after having two or three good ties destroyed in the laboratory by solder splashes and other insults, I switched to loathsome cheap polyester and then agitated to dump them altogether, with no pushback. Later, I gave up on long sleeves, too, and for similar reasons, watch and rings.

    What I wondered even in those early days was about the discomfort my female labmates (there were several) felt, who always had to divest themselves of even modest metallic or other delicate personal accessories while in the lab, and whether this made lab-centric pursuits less attractive. I once asked a female mechanical engineer friend about this and she told me she was shocked that any man would ever realize such a thing might be a problem. She said it had caused her constant low-level anxiety in her early career.

  • Guest

    Manners and ettiquete began as ways to please the royalties and ruling elite. A manner of obsequity. That is why we as Americans frown it.

    • Sylvia de Trinidad

      Actually, Oscar Wilde plays or ready books by P.G. Wodehouse, portray the middle and ‘lower classes’ as having morals and being polite. But then maybe that just proves your point.

  • Another Mike

    Technology has improved the RSVP process. A variety of companies offer online invitations, with a simple RSVP process. Not that everyone invited will respond. But, people who care will respond with Yes, No, or Maybe, and people who pick Maybe usually explain their constraints (might be called in to work, for example.)

  • Albert

    What does your guest have to say about Internet trolls, who never debate but rather bait, who ignore evidence and dispense lies, and who throw out baseless insults while hiding behind monickers?

  • Stuart22

    Standing in line at the supermarket. Person in front of me is gone, having left their basket. I step in front of the basket. They return, get upset at me. Who’s right?

    What I did was to calmly but firmly say, “Excuse me, but you were not done shopping. I was.” And I turned my attention away from them. It worked, but I can’t say what Miss Manners would have done.

    • Robert Thomas

      Stuart22, the grocery store in general and the check-out in particular are veritable Waterloos of decent comportment and self control. I think that there ought to be a prescription blood pressure drug specifically to get a person past the clerk.

      • Another Mike

        A fellow at a produce store would not let me check out ahead of him, even as he ran around picking up items and placing them on the belt.

        I no longer shop there.

  • Albert

    When people say “yes sir” to me I feel like they’re selling something, as if I just walked into an electronics store. It creeps me out!

    • Sylvia de Trinidad

      I derive pleasure from referring to people in a formal manner. Of course, if they object, I will not do it. Particularly annoying is when a mid-30s health care provider refers to my mother by her first name. I realize that I am out of step with the times.

  • KippyD

    How would Miss Manners advise Obama to deal with the House Republicans regarding the government shutdown? Must he allow them to “save face”?

  • Ranjeet Tate

    Regarding the caller whose yoga class was “ruined” by having to move in the middle of the session for a late arrival. Really? How “one” with the universe are you and what good is yoga doing you? This very self-centered approach to yoga seems very prevalent in the West.

  • MattCA12

    I wonder if Miss Manners has any advice on dealing with people and their dogs? Something is changing in our society, with more and more people bringing their dogs with them to work, to the store, to restaurants, etc. I love dogs, but a lot of people refuse to realize their pet is an animal – and act accordingly. Dogs do not belong everywhere that their owner does.

    • Another Mike

      They do in France — what’s the difference between Paris and San Francisco? (AKA “America’s Most European City)

  • steve smith

    Michael K needs Miss Manners himself. I was sitting next to him and a woman at a restaurant in Kentfield. Instead of sitting across from him like a normal person, this woman moved over to the right of her table and put her cowboy boots up on the banquet next to Mr. K. She was sitting inches from me and couldn’t care less. I gave Mr. K. a knowing glance but he couldn’t have cared less. He is selfish and arrogant and should learn some manners himself!

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