Social Etiquette and Good Manners/nosy neighbors


I have nosy neighbors. Due to the economic volatility of recent years, I have been out of work for a long time. I have neighbors who like to get an update on whether I am still looking, where am I looking, how am I looking and if I am getting unemployment checks and for how long I will be getting unemployment checks. These are neighbors who I am not at all friendly with otherwise. While I have known the nosy neighbors for a long time, they are neighbors - not friends. I am single and I am asked about my past relationships with men etc. It goes on and on. Most of the time, this information, which should only be important to me - is passed on to other neighbors. The gossip is mean-spiritied and there have been cruel things said that have gotten back to me. (Like I can't hold down a job). I have become quite the loner and realize that I need to find other people to socialize with. This is a very long-standing problem and I would like to get your opinion.

Dear Rosalie:

Your neighbors are definitely more interested in your life and circumstances than necessary to be good neighbors!  What I suggest you say the next time anyone asks you a question about where you are in your job search is to tell them that you are keeping busy with work you that like to do at the moment and then turn the question to them. Ask them what type of work do they do and if it is satisfying for them.  Ask as many questions of them as you can, not answering anymore about yourself.  People would rather talk about themselves than you any day.  We are our own favorite subject of conversation.  If they ask about your relationships with men or other people, your standard answer should always be, "I like to keep my relationships private.  I am sure you like to do the same." If they answer, "No, I like to talk about mine." then ask them about them.  See above about favorite conversation topics.

Gossip is only available as the preferred form of conversation and interest if there is something to gossip about.  If your answer is always, "It is definitely a tough economy for so many people.  It certainly isn't easy in my field.  But, when I want to share my private life, I usually talk with my best friend (mother, grandmother, whomever you choose to add here).  So, tell me about yourself.  Have you been at your job long?  Do you like it?  What kind of work do you do?  Is it a growing field?  I'd like to learn more. - all are statements you can use to change the subject and get them to realize that you might be someone worthwhile liking, rather than tearing down.

In this or any economy, the secret to getting a job is who you know.  Getting out there and letting everyone you meet know that you are experienced in a certain field or looking for a certain type of opportunity (not a job but an opportunity) is important.  Start with attending Chamber of Commerce functions or find networking events in your area through LinkedIn or  Then take lots of business cards (have them made for free at and start meeting some new people.  Make sure you dress professionally and just be interested in the other people more than sharing your story.  That will make them interested in you and you will become more memorable to them.  

If you have been keeping to yourself to protect yourself for a while, it is time to take the risk and get out and meet three new people at each of these networking functions.  Don't try to "make friends". Just be professional and friendly.  Friendships will come but more importantly, contacts for job interviews may come. Don't forget to write a note afterwards to follow up with the new contacts. Let them know you enjoyed meeting them and offer to help them in any way appropriate.  The more you give of yourself, the more people will be giving back to you in return.

I wish you well and I hope you will keep me informed how it goes.  Oh, and don't forget to smile - even if you don't really feel like it.  A smile produces endorphins in the brain which will automatically make you feel more positive.  

Social Etiquette and Good Manners

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Cynthia W. Lett


Proper manners with friends,family,colleagues,neighbors and everyone else you know.


I have been an etiquette expert teaching and consulting on the subject worldwide since 1983. I started and serve as the Executive Director of the International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals and am considered a leader in the field of etiquette and protocol training and execution. I edited "Etiquette for Dummies" and have recently written "Lett's Talk - Everyday Etiquette Dilemmas and What to Do about Them". My book, "That's So Annoying:An Etiquette Expert on the World's Most Irritating Habits And What To Do About Them" was published in 2009 and is available wherever books are sold. I taught the Business Protocol class to Master's level students at the George Washington University, Washington, DC for seven years I served as Chief of Protocol for MCI Telecommunications for three years.

International Society of Protocol & Etiquette Professionals, ASTD, PCMA, National Speakers Association

I have been quoted over 700 times in the past 5 years worldwide. Publications include Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Washington Times, NY Times, Washington Business Journal, USA Today, Associated Press, London Times, Newsweek Japan edition, Newsweek US edition and many many more.

I am a Certified Etiquette Professional (CEP) and Certified Protocol Professional (CPP) earned by examination through ISPEP. I have a Master's degree in hospitality law and undergrad degrees in Restaurant & Hotel Management and Public Relations/Interpersonal Communications from Purdue University.

Awards and Honors
Who's Who Worldwide,Who's Who of American Women, Distinguished Darden Professor (Purdue University).

Past/Present Clients
World Bank, United Nations,US Dept. of State, US. Dept. of the Army, Pentagon, Barclays Global Investors,Accenture,Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, The White House, Dept. of State, AT&T,Bank of America,American Association of Clinical Pharmacies,Ritz Carlton Hotels, Hilton Hotels, Marriott Hotels,Starwood Hotels,and many more.

©2016 All rights reserved.