Please 'Stop Doing That' Rethinks Modern Manners

We have all experienced incidents of bad manners: The rider who showered the bus with his uncovered sneeze; the woman who cut into the movie line; the person texting mid-film at the movie theater.

But while we know bad manners when we see them, good manners can be harder to define. What's the problem with saying "No problem" as a substitute for "You're welcome"? Is it acceptable to answer a phone call with an email? Is it offensive to ask a taxi driver where he's from?

In his book, Would it Kill You to Stop Doing That?: A Modern Guide to Manners, author Henry Alford tries to uncover the purpose and principles of manners — and what's happened to them in our fast-moving, increasingly interconnected culture.

Alford chronicles his travels in Japan, interviews with etiquette experts and time spent volunteering as an online etiquette coach, all in search of how things might look if people were on their best behavior a little more often.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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