1988, 2013, Books, Non-Fiction

How to Work a Room (1988, 2013) by Susan RoAne

There are parts of this book that are helpful if you are shy – the author claims that most of us are shy, which may or may not be true and I have trouble believing most of us are as shy as I used to be – or if you don’t know how to go about networking. But…

Like most self-help books, it is awfully repetitive.And that’s hard to take. Also, the author doesn’t understand proper emphasis, despite teaching English herself. She uses quotation marks and capitalization (mid-word!!!) in place of italtics. That’s nit-picky, I know. But excessive, incorrect use of quotation marks is a major pet peeve and she should know better.

But the problems don’t stop there. This book contains two separate chapters on online “manners” or “etiquette” and this woman

  1. doesn’t fully understand new technology (she appears old) and
  2. doesn’t understand that each of these technologies has its own etiquette.

These two chapters read as if my parents were lecturing me how to properly use email and social media. If you don’t understand something completely, don’t write about it.

Then there’s the chapter on manners and etiquette. This is a chapter so obviously written by a privileged, old white woman, it’s hard to put into words. Anyone other than privileged old white people would probably recoil in horror reading it, as the author defends “polite society” and the etiquette and manners traditions that have been used as a form of social control by rich Europeans for centuries. There’s nothing wrong with being polite. Being polite is good. But manners are not universal, they are cultural. They are not “common sense” unless the only people you know are from the same class and ethnicity as you. This chapter reeks of ignorance of the world outside the United States – hell, even the areas outside of business meetings between and within large corporations within the United States.

Anyway, there’s some useful advice in the first few chapters. And then you can stop there.


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