Miss Manners

The enduringly wise Judith Martin.

The enduringly wise Judith Martin.

In 1982, Judith Martin, better known as Miss Manners, published Miss Manner’s Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior. The book covers the etiquette for just about every social situation in Western society and is understandable, applicable and exquisitely funny.

I read the book right after graduation as I struggled to navigate the new and overwhelming world of office parties, weddings and baby showers. I wanted to be sure I did the right thing. Miss Manners has the correct answer for every situation.

But more importantly, Miss Manners has the winning formula for leading her gentle readers to determine for themselves what the right thing to do is. She espouses the gracious view that civility, respect, consideration and awareness of the comfort of others should guide us.

Thirty plus years later, the “freshly updated” edition includes modern concerns such as cell phone use, the Internet and which mom in a same-sex couple walks the bride down the aisle.  I haven’t read this updated version yet, but I will bet my fish forks and ‘thank you’ cards that Miss Manners essential formula for excruciatingly correct behavior holds true. Be civil. Be respectful. Be considerate

2 thoughts on “Miss Manners

  1. I still have the older version of that text, missing a cover, but still readable, somewhere in my book collection. The things that have stayed with me from it are 1) Ms Martin is quite playful, and even funny in places, 2) she advocates, in at least one place, using manners to gain the upper hand against others – you win more completely and satisfyingly against an adversary with a polite, innocent response than if you fight dirty, and finally 3) ultimately, manners are about showing other people that you respect and care for them. Definitely an influence on my behaviour and my world view!


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