Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Retro Etiquette for the 1950's Businessman

You may have to appoint her chairman of a committee to look into the company's telephone manners, ask her to "get the girls together"...


To: Men who can't be bothered with "all that etiquette nonsense"
From: the editors

We solemnly swear that this book will not tell you:
1. how things should be done to please delicate ladies tsk-tsk ing over the teacups in their Victorian bowers
(Instead, it tells you how things are done, by practical men who know their way around in these high-pressure days.)

2. how to set a table, manage a wedding, furnish your house or christen a baby
(But it tells you how to handle women who care about such matters -- and it might help you sign up a Lady who has an etiquette book of her own.)

3. how to make a million dollars, break 70 on the golf course or marry a beautiful heiress
(But it may keep you from making a fool of yourself while you're trying!)

With the help of experts in every field -- experts who form our board of advisory editors -- we've ruthlessly cast aside all forms which no longer make sense in the world of today. 

We've been especially rough on those ladylike rules which are not comfortable and natural for a man to follow. In their place, you will find new and current guides on everything from tippling to tipping, from courting to sporting.

We think this book will save you a lot of trouble -- and not a few embarrassing moments.

We think it will help put you at ease in what ever strange situation you come up against.

We know it will work ... so we hope you'll put The New Esquire Etiquette to work for you.

We think this book will help put you at ease in what ever strange situation you come up against.

From "Your Secretary"

Your secretary represents you. You're the one who will be marked down if she manages to rub other people the wrong way -- and she can do it in a minute if she has developed the habit of asking "Who's calling?" over the telephone, or if she relays your orders as though they were her own -- so in the end you're the one who will have to tell her how to seem polite and helpful even as she turns away your callers, prods your juniors, lies to your seniors or otherwise looks after your interests.

When she new, it's easy.  You just sit her down, as a sort of confidential partner in your business of getting ahead, and tell her exactly how you want things done. She can't be offended by the orientation approach I'm sure you know this already but... Hand her this book, if you're pressed for time, or buy her a copy of Communications Handbook for Secretaries*, but manage to let her know that you notice and you care how she handles other people for you.

When she has already had time to settle into some of the bad habits discussed below, the job of correcting her is a bit touchy. You may have to appoint her chairman of a committee to look into the company's telephone manners, ask her to "get the girls together" to discuss a general letting-down you've noticed on the subject of businesslike dress in the office, or assign her to collect materials for a memo you want to write the office manager about business etiquette. You can be sure, however, that it will be worth whatever trouble you have to take to bring your secretary's manners up to a par with her stenography. If she is smooth she can be more effective, for you.

Before you start criticizing your secretary's manners, however, perhaps you had better take a look at your own manners toward your secretary.
* By Lucy Graves Mayo, one of our advisory editors

Show wives and kiddies what Daddy does all day
From "Your Wife and Your Work"

KEEP HER OUT OF IT, if you can.

You are lucky if she knows enough about the ways of the business world to act as a suitable sounding board -- or enough about the ways of womanhood to provide needed relief from business pressures. In a company where a certain amount of social mixing is necessary, you're lucky if she is a good hostess endowed with the knack of putting people at ease (a knack which usually includes empathy, the art of small talk and a nice sense of timing in the expression of controversial opinion.) It's nice if she wants what you want in your career; it helps if she understands when you have to work hard and late.

But -- note -- all these qualities operate AT HOME.

Your wife should stay out of your office, except by infrequent appointment to meet you there or except by invitation to one of those Open House events some companies stage in order to show wives and kiddies what Daddy does all day.

She should stay off your office wire, except on matters which can't await your call or your return home. And even when the mission itself has your approval, she should never deal directly with your employees or fellow-workers.

If she doesn't know these things instinctively, you'll have to risk telling her outright. Explain it in terms of "appearances," a concept women are usually quick to appreciate, and she shouldn't resent the lesson.

For your part, you should avoid dragging her name, activities or opinions into the business day. She's not a skeleton (we hope) to be kept hidden in a closet, but too many men quote their wives too often to hold the interest (and respect) of their associates. It may be true that the road to success is crowded with wives pushing their husbands along -- but try not to let it show in your case!

And by the way: when and if you do refer to your wife in a business conversation, do not speak of her as "MrsYourName." Call her "my wife" or, if the person you are speaking to knows her well enough to know her first name, "Mary." The reason is simple; in social usage, a man refers to his wife as "MrsHisname" only in speaking to servants and children. So using that form in business, even though the business rule is not so clear-cut, sounds a note of condescension.

The New Esquire Etiquette 1953

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