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

Is It Facebook’s Fault if You’re Self-Centered?

Does Facebook turn you into a narcissist? This is the question posed (but not answered) by a recent column in the New York Times. Citing a number of recent students of Facebook users, the Times article described the research so far: Facebook users who tag themselves in photos and frequently update their statuses are more narcissistic; self-centered people are more […]

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For Richer or Poorer: It Costs $1,000 to Be a Bridesmaid?

“I’m horrified at your advice to the cash-strapped bridesmaid in the May issue,” a reader named SarahPNC wrote this week. “The bridesmaid already spent over $1,000 on the wedding. I say that she can bow out of the group gift.” Let’s get out our calculators; wedding season is underway. In the case of one cash-strapped bridesmaid who wrote to Real Simple […]

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Can I Get You Something From the Bar? (Not)

“What should you do when you’re at a party having a conversation with someone, and you suddenly realize they are obviously not listening?” writes a reader named JS. “You are talking away, when you notice the person you are addressing is straining to hear another conversation going on nearby,” she writes. “How does one handle this situation?” Cut your losses, JS. […]

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Your Kid Saw Porn Online. Now What?

With more kids browsing the Internet at younger ages, an article today’s New York Times warns:  “Your child is going to look at porn at some point. It’s inevitable.”  Now what? That’s the opinion of Elizabeth Schroeder, who is executive director of a sex-education organization based at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Kids have laptops, smart phones,  computers and other electronic […]

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Rude Kids: How to (Politely) Put a Stop to It

This week’s question comes from a reader named Jill, who is getting increasingly exasperated by the rude behavior of one of the children in her carpool. “Everyone always says ‘it takes a village,’ yet what do you do as a parent when someone else’s child is perpetually rude to you?” Jill wrote. By rude, Jill means: “rude at your house […]

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Give Me That Babysitter, I Saw Her First!

“Dear Michelle: I complete disagree with your column saying a friend is wrong for not sharing a babysitter. NO WAY! It’s hard enough to find a reliable available sitter,” wrote a reader named JACM1234. “Add to that friends homing in on the same sitter, and we’ve found ourselves hosed when we really needed a sitter,” JACM1234 wrote. “True friends understand […]

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How to Make Your Co-Workers Like You

The same bad behavior that got you in trouble at home when you were a kid—taking credit for something your brother did, saying no reflexively, a messy room—can cause problems with your co-workers at the office. A few days ago, a story in the Wall Street Journal listed the most common behaviors that make co-workers dislike you. They include: 1. […]

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Oversharing: When Couples Tweet Too Much

Singer Rosanne Cash got in trouble recently for tweeting that her husband was napping. “Don’t’ tell people I’m taking a nap!” he said, really annoyed. That story and others, reported today in the New York Times, describes a modern etiquette problem that can derail romance: oversharing. Before the days of Facebook and Twitter and Tumblr, it wasn’t so easy to blithely […]

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How to Correct a Co-Worker’s Grammar

How do you deal with co-workers who use bad grammar? This week’s etiquette question comes from a reader named Jbala17, who wonders why her subtle attempts to correct her colleagues have gotten her nowhere. “These are educated people,” Jbala17, wrote. “I have tried to re-word their statements using proper grammar and then repeat them back to them, to no avail. […]

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Neighbors’ Laundry Left in the Machine…Again. Now What?

This week’s etiquette question comes from a reader named Kathleyn, who lives in a small apartment building where neighbors often forget to retrieve clothes from the shared, coin-op laundry machine in the basement. “Sometimes I wait hours, even days, for the machine to be free,” Kathleyn writes. “Is it OK,to take their clothes out, after a certain amount of time […]

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