We don't talk much about etiquette these days. It sounds so quaint, like something characters out of a Jane Austin novel would spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about. But that's really misleading, because etiquette is just a fancy word for feeling comfortable in social situations, knowing the right thing to do, the right thing to say, and above all, being considerate of others.
I just finished the most wonderful book about modern-day etiquette by Patricia Rossi.
I was lucky enough to meet Patricia when we were both speakers at the St. Petersburg Times Festival of Reading back in October. I'm a bit embarrassed that it took me this long to read her charming book. Patricia, besides being stunningly gorgeous, has this adorable Southern accent and is very self-deprecating. She has no problem poking fun at herself in order to make a point about how being better prepared would have saved her a lot of embarrassment.
Some of my favorite tips from her book are:
Try to note the color of someone's eyes when you speak to them. It helps you to meet their eyes.
Everyone feels awkward in large social situations. If you go in with that in mind and with the intent of making someone else feel at ease, you'll help yourself feel less awkward too. A really great tip was that you should only approach people standing alone or in groups of three.
To appear confident, stand up straight with your hands by your side. (After I read that, I realized how often I cross my arms across my chest. That signals unapproachability!)
There's lots of other good stuff, everything about the etiquette of getting a tattoo to going on a cruise. This is my new gift to recent high school and college graduates! (Although the rest of us could probably use this primer too!)