What would Emily Post do? Great-granddaughter-in-law Peggy Post keeps Emily’s legacy alive

Though etiquette queen Emily Post never lived in a world where business communication was conducted via a handheld electronic gizmo, “One of the keys to Emily’s success was that she kept up with the times,” according to Peggy Post, spokesperson, author and co-director of The Emily Post Institute.

Of primary importance to those responsible for Emily’s legacy is applying her core principles to today.

According to Emily, “Whenever two people come together and their behavior affects one another, you have etiquette.”

Of course, this timeless standard easily applies to face-to-face communication, so shouldn’t it apply to a text message, tweet and email?

As Peggy herself is quick to remind us, “There is a real human being at the other end of electronic messages — a person with feelings.”

With the 1922 publication of the book, “Etiquette,” Emily — Peggy’s great-grandmother-in-law — forever would be known as the official matriarch of social conduct and the original figure identified in the pop culture catchphrase: “What would Emily Post do?”

Emily herself was an advocate for making people comfortable regardless of the situation.

Trust and respect

Whether it’s in the family room or the boardroom, “it’s all about building relationships based upon trust and respect,” says Peggy, of Naples, Florida.

Of course, so many have become “too busy” to appreciate the value of human contact, personal communication and relationships, so the road to — ahem, “not heaven” — may forever be paved with good intentions.

While Peggy’s eyes light up as she shares her favorite Emily anecdotes, she has an impressive business and media footprint in her own right.
She is the author of more than a dozen etiquette books, and writes a monthly column in Good Housekeeping and a bimonthly wedding etiquette column in The New York Times.

Her media appearances include “Oprah,” “Dr. Phil,” “The View,” “Live with Regis and Kelly,” “Today,” “Dateline,” VH1 and CNN.

Phil McGraw, the TV psychologist himself known for being diplomatic, commented in an email: “Peggy is down-to-earth, common-sensical and has a great way of delivering her message. She has also taught me a few things about manners, for which my wife Robin is forever grateful.”

Following Emily’s death in 1960, the Post clan expanded Emily’s unassailable brand into a vibrant family business that includes etiquette consulting, training, seminars and additional book titles including “The Etiquette Advantage in Business” co-authored by Peggy and Peter Post, her brother-in-law and co-director.

With help from a collection of Post descendants, Emily’s flagship publication, “Etiquette,” is currently in its 18th edition — 92 years after its inaugural publication date.

Be yourself

Although there are many character traits associated with positive business conduct, one of the most important — and perhaps least used — is “authentic.”

Even Emily once wrote, “Certainly what one is, is of far greater importance than what one appears to be.”

For business people, manners and etiquette may — or may not — be a part of daily routine.

When it comes to showcasing authenticity, however, Peggy wrote the book — or should consider doing so very soon.

For many of us in the business world, a genuine spirit, positive relationships and workplace civility are goals that should never go out of style.

I’m sure Emily would agree.