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Lillian Eichler

  • At its scintillating best, conversation is a social game in which all can join, and at which all can score. It is a game that requires neither courts, links, nor other equipment. It is always in season, and will be popular as long as civilization itself endures.

  • ... no bachelor should invite guests to his home unless he has a full retinue of servants to care for their wants.

  • There can be no etiquette prescribed for the players in a football game beyond that incorporated in the rules of the game and in the general laws of good sportsmanship. But the people who are watching the game must observe a certain good conduct, if they wish to be considered entirely cultured. For instance, even though the game becomes very exciting, it is bad form to stand up on the seats and shout words of encouragement to the players. Yet how many, who claim to be entirely well-bred, do this very thing!

  • Always at a dance, formal or informal, there are guests who do not dance. ... But 'the guest who does not dance' is one of the unfortunate things the hostess has to put up with at every one of her dances.

  • Another important point regarding yachting parties; the host must supply a gig or rowboat to carry his guests to and from the shore ...

  • There is no reason why any one of us cannot become a good conversationalist.

  • All worthwhile conversation is based upon equality. Only those of poor taste and judgment try to prove themselves wittier or cleverer than others.

  • Politics and religion are dangerous subjects, for they may cause ill feeling even in the most cultivated company. Illness, death, and disaster are unpleasant, and consequently should be avoided.

  • Don't pass judgment upon yourself. People are not especially interested in what you think of your own character or personality.

  • Don't discuss domestic problems in a group made up chiefly of business people.

  • Don't talk about diseases, hospitals, ailments, and operations. Above all, don't talk about your own symptoms.

  • To engage successfully in small talk—which is the key to many pleasant intimacies and acquaintanceships—one must be possessed of tact, good humour, intelligence, facility of expression, and a genial nature.

  • Don't tell a mixed company how clever your children are. Discuss your children only with friends who ask about them.

  • Apart from being a necessity, conversation is one of the greatest of social pleasures. Some of the most subtle enjoyments of life are derived from it.

  • ... speech is inseparably associated with every phase of personal and business life. It is universal and it is one of the most decisive factors in our success or failure.

  • ... there is hardly a company that will not tire of the sustained discussion of one subject, no matter how interesting it may be.

  • Gushing seems to be our great national fault. We hear people gushing about the things they have done, and the things they intend to do—about the parties they have had, and the people they have met, and the opinions they have formed. We hear people gushing when they view a beautiful scene, or a work of art, not realizing that they are merely showing their enthusiasm—certainly not their appreciation. It takes time to form an opinion or judgment and to give an appreciation.

  • It is smart to think of some sarcastic thing to say; but it is smarter still to think of it and not say it.

  • ... there are few better ways to cultivate one's own conversational powers than to become an interested and sympathetic listener. But it is not enough to remain silent while others are talking; that is not listening in any true sense. One must be manifestly attentive to the speaker, asking an occasional question, commenting upon what has been said. The good listener brings out the best in people. He is responsive. His eyes lights up occasionally with interest and pleasure. Not for an instant does he permit his attention to wander.

  • Never, never ask an author what he is going to write next, a painter what subject he is going to depict next. They most prefer talking about their past achievements.

  • No one can become a good conversationalist without tact. It is the sensitive touch that recognizes when a subject has become distasteful, which sees the eagerness of someone else to say something, which notes the slightest cloud of expression crossing another's face.

  • The purpose of a business letter is to inspire action, either at once or at some future date.

  • The letter you write is your personal representative. It takes your place when circumstances make it impossible for you to be there in person.

  • How eagerly in all times and all places, have people waited for mail from home! How wistfully have they repeated, over and over again, that old familiar question: 'Any mail for me?'

  • There has never been an age that did not applaud the past and lament the present.

  • Thoughts of sorrow, of gladness, of joy, of hope surge through us and cry for expression. Dancing is nature's way of expressing these emotions.

  • It is a fundamental law of nature that we shall play in proportion to the amount of work we do.

  • Bridge is ... one of the most interesting indoor games ever invented ...

  • ... golfing has some strange charm from which there is no escaping once one has experienced it. To play golf and to learn its fascination, is to love it always and be unable to forsake it. ... It is the kind of game that must be played enthusiastically and constantly ...

  • It is bad form to stand up in the car, to sing or shout, or to be in any way boisterous. Automobile parties often speed along country roads shouting at the top of their voices for no other reason than to attract attention — to be noticed. The very first rule of good conduct tells us that this is utterly ill-bred.

  • Across the ages comes a whisper: 'We are all one!'

  • ... a regard for the rights of others is the basic law of all etiquette ...

  • The human race has always clung to the established habits and customs of life, has always been loath to give up what was once found good.

  • ... courtesy is contagious!

  • Politeness is the cement that holds the social scheme together. It is the oil that eases the friction of daily life. It is the tune to which the hearts of the world vibrate in harmony.

  • ... courtesy, like a boomerang, will return to you who send it into the world.

  • Your letter carries with it not only the message you want it to convey, but another very definite message about yourself.

  • To follow slavishly every whim of the mode is to lose that poetry of dress that is so intrisincally a part of the fine personality.

  • To-day a gift is not a gift unless it is in good taste.

  • Divorce is as old as marriage. Since the very earliest times, men and women have lived together in the promise of love, have waited vainly for that promise to be fulfilled, and have separated when that promise was forgotten by one or the other — or by both.

  • All entertainments on St. Valentine's Day should be of a gay and frivolous nature. The "Lovers' Luncheon" is a favourite; "Hearts and Showers," a special Valentine shower for the bride-to-be, is increasingly popular; the Valentine masquerade dance is particularly appropriate for the occasion; and, of course, Valentine teas, luncheons, and dinners are always enjoyable. Recently the Valentine bridge party has come into favour.

  • Flattery, of a tactful sort, is sometimes useful in conversation. But too much flattery is like too much sugar: it sickens.

Lillian Eichler, U.S. writer, etiquette maven

(1901 - 1970)

Full name: Lillian Eichler Watson. Note that the birth & death dates given are approximate.