Modern life is full of minor but acute dilemmas: we get stuck at a gathering with someone unusually boring and wonder how to move on without causing offence; in the course of introducing one friend to another, we realize that we have forgotten one of the party’s names; we run into an ex while on an early date with a new partner; we spill red wine across a host’s sofa ...
Such dilemmas might—at one level—seem desperately insignificant. But they actually belong to some of the largest and most serious themes in social existence: how can you pursue your own agenda for happiness while at the same time honoring the sensitivities and wishes of others; how can you convey goodwill with sincerity; how can you be kind without being supine or sentimental? The modern age often doesn’t seem to value manners, equating them with an old-fashioned stuffiness, instead we are advised to communicate our feelings and tell it the way it really is. But the result, in practice, is that we are often confused as to how to act around others and discharge our obligations to them.
This book puts good manners back at the center of our lives. It features twenty case-studies on common social dilemmas and our possible responses to them, contributing to a new and original philosophy of graceful conduct. Manners are far from negligible fancies; they stand at the day-to-day end of a hugely grand and dignified mission which The School of Life is committed to: the creation of a kinder and more considerate world.
1. How to tell when you are being a bore
2. How to write an effective thank you letter
3. How to choose a good present
4. How to approach strangers at a party
5. What to do at parties if you hate small talk
6. How to shake someone off at a party
7.How to win people over
8. Whether, and how much, to praise
9. How to successfully disappoint someone socially
10. How to be comfortable on your own in public
11. How to deal with upsets in service situations
12. How to become someone people will confide in
13. How to talk to a bereaved acquaintance
14. How to spill a drink down your front – and survive
15. How to deal with the subtext
16. How to stop worrying whether or not they like you
17. How to be a good guest
18. How to tell someone they have spinach between their teeth
19. How to make people feel good about themselves
20. How to face social catastrophe