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

The New Rules for Your Cell Phone at Work

When your cell phone accompanies you to the office, it’s no longer a toy. Make sure it acts like a grownup and doesn’t distract others from work. That’s a message we hear frequently nowadays, as people try to figure out how to politely integrate their new technology into the workplace. But what constitutes good manners? In a recent story in […]

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What If One Friend Has Less Money Than the Others?

Say you plan – and pre-pay – a friends’ weekend getaway only to learn at the last minute that one person can’t afford to go. “Save me from being unduly rude!” wrote reader SJaneParker, who hopes she won’t be left footing the bill. Here’s the setup: “I and another close friend took on the task (happily) of organizing a college […]

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Wedding Invitations: Who’s on Your Guest List?

This week’s etiquette dilemma comes from a reader named LaneyDunn, who is planning an out of town wedding. She wrote: “Please help! I need some direction about how to be tactful with my wedding invitations… “We are having a small wedding in Pennsylvania, though my fiance and I met and live in Charleston, South Carolina,” LaneyDunn wrote, adding that a […]

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‘Waiter, There’s a Fly in My Undercooked Salmon’

I still the remember the only time, many years ago, when I dared to send food back at a restaurant. Two minutes later, the chef showed up at the table – with a cleaver. “What’s the problem?” he asked in a menacing tone. (Of course, when you are holding a big knife, any tone sounds menacing.) “The salmon is still […]

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The Secret ‘Pleasures’ of Living Alone

If you live alone with no one to please but yourself, do you become an uncouth heathen, leaving your bras strewn about the kitchen, the TV blaring at high volume and the bathroom door open? This was the question raised a few days ago by a New York Times story headlined “One Is the Quirkiest Number.” I guess you could […]

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Off Limits at the Office: What Not to Say

It’s a bad idea to talk politics at work, according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. Some reasons: –You never know who’s listening. –Not everyone shares your views; you risk offending colleagues who don’t. If someone dislikes you, it could hurt your career. –Office hours are for working, not for idle chitchat. These same warnings might apply […]

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Some Tips to Make Tipping a Little Easier

If you’re a frequent business traveler, like a reader named Agowen, you may often experience a sinking feeling when it’s time to tip the bell hop. You reach into your pocket or handbag only to find…the smallest bill you have is a twenty. Now what? “I travel every week for work and encounter a lot of people that I think […]

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Dad to Daughter’s Laptop: ‘Bang Bang, You’re Dead’

In the eight days since a fed-up North Carolina dad who shot up his teenage daughter’s laptop with a .45-caliber pistol uploaded a YouTube video that documents the incident, more than 25 million viewers—parents and children alike—have watched him pump eight bullets into the computer. “That right there is your laptop. You see it’s out there on the ground. This […]

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Be Nice on Pinterest: The polite way to ‘pin’

I’ve been obsessed lately with Pinterest, the site where you can “pin” collections of interesting pictures onto an online bulletin board you share with your friends. Yeah, me and nearly 11 million other Pinterest users. You’re probably on Pinterest too, loving this well-designed new site that is on track to become the fastest-growing social networking site since Facebook. The way it […]

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Should You Send a Gift to a Wedding You Can’t Attend?

This week’s etiquette question came from HeatherMLee, who must decline an invitation to her niece’s wedding because it is too far for her to travel. She asked: “What is the appropriate thing to do, gift wise, if you cannot attend?” You should send a gift, HeatherMLee, to anyone who invites you to her wedding. Look at the situation this way: […]

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