News and Articles

October 2004
The Daily Home Talladega, Sylacauga-Pell City, Alabama

Dear Millie,

With the holiday season approaching, I would like to give my grandchildren a book on manners and etiquette. Their ages range from teens to college senior. Do you have any suggestions?

Dear Reader,

Yes, indeed I do! A great gift idea is one of my favorite books and the one all my etiquette students receive, "The Little Book of Etiquette" by Dorthea Johnson, my mentor and teacher at the Protocol School of Washington. This is a pocket or purse sized book that covers all elements of dining. It will assist all ages in navigating and managing a table setting as a guest or as a host in the business or social area.

For the college age or young adult, especially those planning to enter the business world but who may feel shy and uncomfortable, consider giving the book "Letitia Baldrige's "New Complete Guide to Executive Manners". Mrs. Baldrige's book takes you through the first interview, the first day at work, and supplies all the complex knowledge needed if you plan to outclass the competition and progress up the corporate ladder.

A book that I was given as a teen that has now been updated and revised is "Emily Post Etiquette", by Peggy Post, great-granddaughter in law of Emily Post. The rules haven't changed but, of course, times have. From business at home to multicultural and global etiquette, all areas are covered. This is an excellent etiquette resource for teens, young adults and their parents.

With my compulsion to read as many of the new etiquette books coming out, one that caught my eye was "Manners" by Kate Spade. She grew up with and was inspired by Emily Post's etiquette book, written 80 years ago. Her book very cleverly addresses manners of today and being a good will ambassador wherever you go. A very colorful and contemporary book with many illustrations.

A personal favorite, "Social Graces, Manners, Conversation and Charm for Today" by Ann Platz and Susan Wales, with illustrations by Kathryn Andrews Fincher. The authors grew up in the South and discuss the unique social graces that contribute to the South's enduring quality that is our most unmistakable trademark.

There are many more books on manners and etiquette that are excellent; the ones I pointed out provide an outstanding starting point.

Dear Millie,

What is the correct length of time of time you have to answer an email?

Dear Reader:

In business, customers send an e-mail because they wish to receive a quick response; otherwise, a letter or fax would be sufficient. Each e-mail should receive a reply within 24 hours and preferably the same working day. If, however, the email is complicated, send an e-mail acknowledging its receipt and explaining that you will respond later in further detail. This will put the customer's mind at rest and encourage patience while you are researching the issue. For personal e-mail, read your email regularly and respond promptly.

Recently, I was required to remind my mother of another rule of netiquette; even though you may better read all capital letters in an e-mail, this is thought of as shouting in the world of cyberspace. Our website,, has newsletters for more tips on netiquette.

Dear Millie,

I enjoy Fridays at my workplace because business casual dress is allowed. Would you describe what the casual look is for the men and women?

Dear Reader:

First and foremost, never forget that the first word in business casual is "business". Dressing for business these days has become situational. Traditional clothing some days, business casual other days. In order to decide what to wear, ask yourself the following questions each morning: "What is my company's dress code? What is my position within my company? What are my duties today? With whom will I be interacting? Where will I be meeting them? What messages do I need to convey?"

Business casual is best described as the apparel a man or women would wear at a resort or at an informal sales conference. Picture Microsoft's Bill Gates - he dresses casually, yet still looks fresh and well groomed for business. Remember to avoid jeans, sneakers, hats and T-shirts. Some companies do take a more lenient approach to casual dressing, so be sure to check with your HR department or manager before showing up dressed for a barbecue.