Michelle Slatalla
Michelle Slatalla believes the first rule of good manners is forgiving those with bad ones, if they show a desire to improve. And she hopes everyone to whom she still owes a wedding gift thank-you note (from 1988) agrees. A former columnist for the New York Times, where she wrote for 12 years about digital culture and family life, she also has written regular columns for Time, Hallmark, Rosie and Lifetime magazines, as well as an online column for the Discovery Channel. After graduating from Indiana University with a bachelor's degree in journalism, her first job was as a newspaper reporter at Newsday. She also earned a master’s degree in English from Columbia University, where she currently teaches journalism.

She recently traded in a house and a garden in Northern California for an apartment in Manhattan, where she lives with her husband, her youngest daughter, and two little dogs with big ears. Her two other daughters, who begged her to get the dogs and promised to walk them every day and every night, have gone off to college.

Recent Posts By Michelle Slatalla

Show Some Respect: Be Polite to the President?

Woodrow Wilson was the president who invented the formal press conference—and immediately was regretted it, according to a story we read recently on CNN. After newspapers printed rumors of Wilson’s daughter’s romantic liaisons, the president declared: “This must stop! On the next offense, I shall do what any other indignant father would do. I will punch the man who prints it […]

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‘Why Is Job Hunting So Dehumanizing?’

Here’s the question  Fran Hopkins asks in a column on AOL: “How have I gotten to the point in this process where I expect to be treated like a piece of meat and accept it? “There’s very little human interaction in the job-application process,” Hopkins writes. “You email your resume to hiring@abcfirm.com or painstakingly complete a time-consuming, excruciatingly detailed online […]

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World-Class Manners for Olympians (and Spectators)

Spotted recently in the Chicago Tribune: a guide, on the eve of the Summer Olympics, to understanding (and emulating) “all the customs, quirks and idiosyncrasies” of British etiquette: 1. Greetings. A firm handshake is welcome. Other forms of touching, less so. “Social kissing is, however, becoming increasingly popular in Britain, but it is by no means an accepted norm,” writes […]

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Do You Dread Email? There’s an App for That

What if your cell phone could give you a heads-up, to let you know whether an email you are about to read is positive, negative or neutral? In Britain, scientists at the University of Portsmouth have developed an application that will do exactly that. After scanning the text of incoming mail, the app displays each message onscreen against a colored […]

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Engagement Party: “No Gifts, Please”

A reader named Claudia writes, “I have been invited to an engagement party and the invitation states ‘no gifts, your presence is our gift.’ Do I go without something, or what would be appropriate to take?” It is never required to take a gift to an engagement party, which traditionally is an occasion for both sides of the family and […]

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Smooching and Groping in Public

“I have a long-term friend, a 50-year-old bachelor who just started dating a girl, who is nearly 50. When I visit them, they frequently start making out and clawing at each other, sometimes even sharing the same spot on the couch with her on top of him,” writes a reader named SocialB. SocialB finds the behavior disgusting: “I have to leave […]

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Your Cousin’s Grandchildren are Beautiful. Period.

This week’s question comes from KidSundance, who is worried about what to say at an upcoming family reunion if shown a photo of a cousin’s grandchildren: “I am white. I am not a racist, and am very open-minded about race, race relations, etc. “So, please understand that this is a question about etiquette in which, as always, my concern is for […]

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Airplane Etiquette: Please Stop Kicking My Seat

With the summer travel season underway, it’s likely you’re going to sit near a passenger who plays music too loudly or kicks your seat or refuses to shift a bag in an overhead bin to make room for yours. How would you respond? Results to a recent Travel Leaders Group survey of 800 people, reported recently in the New York […]

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Party Food With a Pit: Now What?

As we head into the heart of the summer barbecue season, here’s one of those perennially tricky etiquette situations we’re all going to have to confront: “How do you properly eat an olive with a seed in the middle—or a cherry—when you are at a party?” wrote a reader named MJ. That’s actually a great question, MJ. There was a […]

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Nothing Personal, I Just Don’t Want to Sit Next to You

We could all use a little extra legroom. But is it rude to move away from a seat mate to get some? “I have witnessed this behavior frequently and can’t tell which category it falls into,” wrote a reader named Caitlin. “When the bus or train is packed full, every seat is taken. But when a good number of people […]

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