Quirky Books: The Little Book of Etiquette by Dorothea Johnson

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Little Book of Etiquette by Dorothea Johnson

Adequately titled, "the Little Book of Etiquette" can be held in the palm of one hand. Even though it has 127 pages and uses a ten point font, the word count is allusive. The eight tiny chapters have additional illustrations rendered by Denise Hilton-Campbell. A surprising amount of detail is incorporated into each graphic.

The purpose of the book is to identify the proper role of a host and guest during a business dinner. Addressing types of service, table talk and how to eat various foods it elaborates on issues a person may not have considered. A memorable tip is to eat small bites to avoid interrupting conversation by chewing.

A complicated issue arises in setting the atmosphere for the business meeting. It encourages the host to dominate the event. The host picks a familiar restaurant, or becomes familiar with the restaurant in advance. It also identifies the host as the only one who speaks directly to the wait staff. Guests talk to the host about all dining concerns.

In America making eye-contact with a person is essential. Even when someone refills a glass of water, look them in the eye and say, "Thank you." However, the book states guests should never speak to the wait staff, only to the host. This may assist the wait staff by limiting the amount conversing with customers; however, it also establishes the host's dominance. This is where the question of rude behavior arises. Is there a greater obligation to acknowledge wait staff or respect the host during the meeting?

It is common knowledge that being rude is the worst mannerism in all etiquette. The introduction espouses on how people are judged by their manners. Many people believe etiquette is a system abused by social climbers to inhibit and undermine people of lower classes. Some misuse it as a method to identify people who are outsiders or from a dissimilar culture. Etiquette is intended to make life easier; therefore, rudeness is undoes etiquette.

Clearly marketed to women, from the Protocol School of Washington, it has cursive fonts, gold embossing, pink illustrations and dainty watermarks. Though a business tool, it is humorous imagining a man carrying it in his briefcase or travel bag. Businesspeople, diplomats and politicians are the target market; however, everyone should read this book a few times. Both men and women benefit from knowing etiquette.