Is “Dear” dead?

Cynthia Lett was quoted along with other prominent etiquette teachers, by Bob Greene, in this article published today on CNN online.  What do you think?  Is the salutation “Dear” dead?  Do you disagree with any of the experts’ opinions?


Face-to-Face Meetings Are Still Important

Report Highlights Strategic Value of Face-to-Face Meetingsperson to person meeting

Even as virtual meetings become increasingly common, a new study from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) focuses on the specific strategic advantages of face-to-face meetings for large groups. The report, The Future of Meetings: The Case for Face-to-Face, was written by Christine Duffy, President and CEO of Maritz Travel Company, and Mary Beth McEuen, Vice President and Executive Director of The Maritz Institute. McEuen notes that the report identifies three key reasons for face-to-face meetings: 1) to capture attention, especially for new concepts; 2) to inspire a positive emotional climate; and 3) to build human networks and relationships. “Face-to-face meetings possess the unique ability to spur action and drive business results through creating powerful, emotional ties to your business mission and message,” she says. “The fact remains that there’s no substitute for meeting in person when you want to build emotional support and develop relationships.”  The complete study can be found here.

Editor’s Note: As social media becomes more prevalent in our daily lives, we have to be diligent to make time for face-to-face meetings.  When we are in the physical presence of others, our emotional selves are fed by the acceptance and challenges of personal relationships.  We feel better about ourselves after we have a positive meeting with another in person.  Why?  Because we know that the other person is responding to our “real” selves, not just our words.

Sidewalk Etiquette

By Kathleen Baines, Columnist on November 1, 2010

Our generation has lost most forms of etiquette — it’s a bold claim, albeit a true one. I have my own theories as to why this decline happened — the substitution of old-fashioned methods of child-rearing with the “I’m your buddy, not your parent” model, the refusal to believe that this is actually real life and that if you say something nasty, MTV won’t

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intervene with a bleep or a conveniently placed commercial break. Or just the fact that we’re all entitled to something.

This lack of etiquette includes but is not limited to the replacement of “please” and “thank you” with “do it” and “I deserved it,” and dropping all formalities and calling your mother by her first name. What happened to apologizing even when you don’t mean it, or offering to give up your seat for an old lady even though you’re extra cozy and would rather lose an arm than move? It’s a matter of principle. And the principle is dying.

I just want to wash out all of these “you-owe-me-one” mouths with soap, mainly because I think the idea of literally cleaning out someone’s mouth is really funny. But because I can’t do that, and given that it would be utterly impractical to try, my goal is to take it one step at a time. Truly. I’m talking about what I like to call “sidewalk etiquette.”

The regrettable decline of chivalry and manners rather blatantly extends into this realm of public walkways. You might not even realize sidewalk etiquette exists — until you break it, of course. Then you’re left sitting on the curb, missing a shoe and your dignity, wondering where you went wrong in life.

To begin, you are part of a moving traffic pattern. Do not impede the flow. I cannot stress this enough.

Human beings are not buffaloes. As such, we do not need to herd. So don’t. Instead of forming a horizontal, impassable line across an entire sidewalk, you might consider walking in twosies. You also might consider not making others walk in the mud.

Instead, commit to one side of the sidewalk. Be an absolutist. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s that awkward hallway or sidewalk game of left-right-left-right-laugh-uncomfortably-and-tango for 15 minutes before committing to a side. You’ll save yourself a considerable amount of embarrassment and confusion — unless you’re into that kind of thing or want to hone your dancing techniques.

This transportation courtesy extends to driving. Put on your turn signal when switching lanes or merging. Don’t text and drive. And on that note, don’t text and walk either — unless you’re like me and can multi-task like a seasoned pro. You will inevitably veer into the other lane of traffic — walking or driving — and cause disaster.

Fair-weather transit is difficult enough, but rain poses an especially potent threat to “sidewalk etiquette.” I feel successful when I make it home with both of my eyes intact after a rainy day on Grounds. The umbrella-point dodging is not an easy game, and I’m sick of keeping a tight perimeter at all drizzly times. Especially uncovered walkways. Using an umbrella under a covered walkway is the equivalent to wearing your sunglasses to bed at night — unless you sleep with the light on, in which case you’re weird and need to insert the analogy of your choice here. I personally boycotted umbrella use for a-year-and-half for these very reasons. Point in case, you can use an umbrella. Just be careful not to impale people. A few drops of water on your head are well worth this avoidance.

Many people don’t follow any semblance of manners on the sidewalk, in the hallway or in life. It’s every man for himself. I once had a cute guy swap places with me and walk road-side during a particularly intense rainstorm so I wouldn’t get splashed with tire-spray. I thought he was deranged. Turns out he’s just a really nice guy. Who knew.
Bottom line, we all have our personal breeches of etiquette, side-walking not excluded. I, for instance, am an aggressive tailgater — some driving tendencies do carry into all areas of life. Just be aware of your environment, respect other people’s space and safety and abide by the rules of the road. McCormick Road isn’t the Autobahn.

Kathleen’s column runs biweekly Mondays in the Cavalier Daily at the University of Virginia.

She can be reached at

The Etiquette Book for the REST OF US – October 7, 2009

by David Newman (
True confession time – I hate the topic of etiquette and I hate etiquette books. They’re preachy, academic, and not relevant to me in my day-to-day business…

…EXCEPT this one.

That’s So Annoying” is the ultimate guide for the rest of us – folks that live in the real world who are savvy business pros. This book is 100% aimed at YOU if your success depends on the way you speak, listen, act (and react), communicate, and behave in your day-to-day dealings of business and life. (And trust me, it DOES!)

The book’s content is engaging, smart, funny, and incredibly useful and relevant to any level of professional in any industry. With well over 100 different topics, this book is a quick and easy read cover to cover AND it’s also a great start-anywhere reference guide that’s well-organized and even features a fun 5-point “Annoyance Rating System” to give

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you a sense of what’s a minor infraction vs. a major gaffe.

The book’s format is also engaging – full color, big photos and fun graphics throughout. Well-highlighted sidebars and tip lists make the content come to life (See p. 106 for 9 Key Complaints about your Voice mails, p. 57 for 20 Common Issues with Cubicle Mates plus 20 solutions, p. 102 for 9 Tips to Consider About Your Next Email, p. 53 for the top 10 Offenses Deemed Unacceptable by Senior Managers)

The physical book is also beautifully produced – heavy glossy paper, great design, and a solid “feel” all make this a business reference that you’ll be proud to display on your shelf – but chances are greater that you’ll want to keep it closer by on your desk and refer to it often.

Frankly, buying a copy for everyone on your team might be the cheapest and most painless way for you to make sure you never have to find yourself in a situation saying, “That’s So Annoying!!”

3 cheers and 5 gold stars to Cynthia Lett for hitting a home run with this terrific resource. Grab your copy now – you’ll thank me later.

“That’s So Annoying” – A Book Review

Thank goodness somebody did this – finally documented all those things people do that drive us nuts, you know, annoying things; like loud cell phone calls in restaurants, poor hygiene, cursing, poor grammar, messy offices, so on and so on. “That’s So Annoying”,  (Skyhorse Publishing 2009), covers business, friendships, home, dining, social, communications and much more.

Cynthia Lett, a certified etiquette and protocol professional and director of the International Society of Protocol and Etiquette Professionals has given us a great gift in “That’s So Annoying”. Not only has Cynthia compiled a massive list of actions that annoy us, but more importantly she has provided ways to deal with these situations and people. The sad fact is most people don’t even know they have an annoying habit. When handled in a professional and non confrontational manner most people are glad somebody made them aware. Cynthia provides expert guidance to help you do just that.

The organization of “That’s So Annoying” makes it easy to find that particular annoying habit or group of habits that drive you up a wall. Cynthia even ranks habits with an Announce Rating System from awfully annoying to only annoying to a select few. Her suggestions of how to deal with people and situations run the gamut from direct respectful discussion to just leave and go shopping elsewhere. Sometimes there is just nothing you can do.

Everyone should be armed with this book from political leaders, executives, medical professionals, entrepreneurs, moms and dads and teenagers. Each of us does something annoying at one time or another. Why not identify it and fix it before somebody has to tell you.

Robert W. Frye

Director International Business Protocol

Former chief of Protocol for AT&T, Lucent Technologies and the U.S. Embassy, Baghdad Iraq