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

#BeNiceWeek: To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

How to behave politely on Twitter is one question Hamlet did not have to face. In retrospect, the prince of Denmark got off easy, because the only sticky social situations he had to navigate were how to deal with his father’s murderer, his mother’s adultery and his own feelings of inadequacy. But if Shakespeare’s most famous hero also had to parse […]

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I’m Drowning in Work Email. What’s the Solution?

I sat down at my desk bright and early this morning, planning to post an answer to this etiquette question before any of you arrived at the office to confront an overflowing Inbox. I swear I did. But then I sneaked a quick peek at my own work email and here I am, surfacing—can it be?—nearly three hours later. It’s […]

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Welcome to the Family. Say Goodbye to Your Perfume

A reader named IowaMama wrote to say her future sister-in-law is giving her headaches. Luckily, it’s not a personality clash; it’s simply a case of too much perfume. “At least two different perfumes are part of her daily grooming routine,” IowaMama wrote. “I have a very sensitive sense of smell, to the point that her beauty products make me nauseous […]

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What Do You Call a Man Who Gossips About His Mother?

“Other people is the world’s most fascinating subject,” according to the author Joseph Epstein. In his new book, “Gossip,” Epstein argues that it’s human nature to tell stories about each other. He even defends gossip, for its power to uncover the truth or arm us with information we may need to know. Of course, Epstein acknowledges that gossip can be […]

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Wedding Guest List Dilemma: How to Put This Nicely…

“I am planning my wedding and trying to keep it as small as possible,” wrote a reader named JackiM15. “However, we are nearing 200, yikes! … “It is going to be an evening wedding, and my fiance and I have decided to not invite children, except for out of town guests and family members,” JackiM15 added. “My question is this: […]

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Dress Code: Blue Jeans or Sequins?

A New Year’s Eve party is arguably the biggest dress-up opportunity of the year. But what’s the definition of “dress up” these days? I wore jeans and a sparkly beaded top to a holiday open house two days ago — and felt pretty good about it until I read what columnist Helena Eichlin has to say here on the subject. […]

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Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? Someone You Don’t Know. Surprise!

“Occasionally, when I invite friends to lunch or dinner, they invite another person along without speaking to me about it first,”  a reader named Carrie wrote recently. “At times, I have something personal I want to share or discuss,” Carrie wrote, adding that she wonders if it is rude to invite someone else without asking. “Or is this the new […]

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A Lesson for Teachers? How Not to Use Cell Phones

School districts around the country, concerned that teachers can get too cozy with students on the Internet or when communicating by cell phone, are making new rules to prohibit contact. In some places, Facebook messages are a no-no, the New York Times reported yesterday. Other school administrators have outlawed text messages – or any conversation conducted on a cell phone. Citing […]

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Three French Hens, Two Turtledoves and … An Ugly Knitted Scarf

‘Tis the season for receiving handmade gifts you wish you never knew existed. Here is one reader’s situation: “One Christmas, my mother in law knitted me a scarf…. “It sounds mean, but I cannot fathom wearing it in public and she has never seen me wear it (because it’s pretty much never seen daylight),” wrote BodealaMode.  “Am I entitled to my […]

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‘Tis the Season for Office Holiday Parties

Rule No. 1: Wear underwear. Rule No. 2: Don’t flash it while you’re dancing wildly on top of the receptionist’s desk. You might think anyone who works in an office—as opposed to those who got fired this year for behaving inappropriately in an office setting—already knows these rules.  But they’re among the Wall Street Journal’s suggestions for navigating the holiday […]

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