Social Rules and Thank-You Notes

Social Rules and Thank-You Notes
"Social rituals are a necessary evil. In the public arena, send thank-you notes and make the necessary conciliatory noises."

The above resignation appeared as my horoscope today. Ironically, I just finished writing a few dozen thank-you notes to friends and professional colleagues. This ritual is far from evil. Indeed, it is my pleasure. When I receive a personal note in the U.S. mail among the endless catalogs, coupons and bills, It brings a smile to my face.

As a radical feminist who kept my birth name after my 1977 marriage, attended the very first National Women's Studies Association convention, volunteered at rape crisis centers, and saw to it that the U.S. Treasury include "Ms" as an identifier for women purchasing U.S. Savings Bonds, it feels odd to say it. But, I am a stickler for manners and norms that some may label old-fashioned.

If asked, my former interns and students would enumerate "Wolf's Rules" for working at the Legislature and beyond. Here a just a few.

-Dress for the part. In a professional setting, when one is trying to be heard and taken seriously, women should not wear open-toed shoes, short skirts or long necklines. Men should wear a coat and tie and socks in all seasons.

-Learn to communicate. Writing skill, including knowledge of grammar, spelling and punctuation, is sine qua non for success in any field. Speaking and the ability to think on one's feet will take you far. Practice.

-Relationships are everything. Congratulate, encourage, sympathize, recognize and acknowledge actions, both large and small.

-Listen and learn. The General Assembly did not start with you. Listen to stories about the players, political history and legislation. Seek out a mentor with experience.

Comments

I love this post. Thank you!

My daughter was interviewing for a research assistantship with a 2nd year PhD student and she called me and asked me what I thought she should wear. It was a little difficult to decide since the advice to dress for the job she aspires to would involve a lab coat. She decided on black slacks and a nice blouse and sweater. Her interviewer showed up in his gym clothes.

She sent a thank you note and was invited to join the research team.

Things have changed so much since I graduated college and went on interviews, but I've told my two girls that they will always be safe if they dress just slightly dressier than they think they should and if they always send a thank you note - not an email.



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