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Treating People Well: The Extraordinary Power of Civility at Work and in Life (Hardcover)
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A guide to personal and professional empowerment through civility and social skills, written by two White House Social Secretaries who offer an important fundamental message—everyone is important and everyone deserves to be treated well.
Former White House social secretaries Lea Berman, who worked for George and Laura Bush, and Jeremy Bernard, who worked for Michelle and Barack Obama, have written an entertaining and uniquely practical guide to personal and professional success in modern life. Their daily experiences at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue taught them valuable lessons about how to work productively with people from different walks of life and points of view. These Washington insiders share what they’ve learned through first person examples of their own glamorous (and sometimes harrowing) moments with celebrities, foreign leaders and that most unpredictable of animals—the American politician.
This book is for you if you feel unsure of yourself in social settings, if you’d like to get along more easily with others, or if you want to break through to a new level of cooperation with your boss and coworkers. They give specific advice for how to exude confidence even when you don’t feel it, ways to establish your reputation as an individual whom people like, trust, and want to help, and lay out the specific social skills still essential to success - despite our increasingly digitized world. Jeremy and Lea prove that social skills are learned behavior that anyone can acquire, and tell the stories of their own unlikely paths to becoming the social arbiters of the White House, while providing tantalizing insights into the character of the first ladies and presidents they served.
This is not a book about old school etiquette; they explain the things we all want to know, like how to walk into a roomful of strangers and make friends, what to do about a difficult colleague who makes you dread coming to work each day, and how to navigate the sometimes-treacherous waters of social media in a special chapter on “Virtual Manners.” For lovers of White House history, this is a treasure of never-before-published anecdotes from the authors and their fellow former social secretaries as they describe pearl-clutching moments with presidents and first ladies dating back to the Johnson administration.
The authors make a case for the importance of a return to treating people well in American political life, maintaining that democracy cannot be sustained without public civility.
Foreword by Laura Bush
About the Author
Lea Berman served as White House Social Secretary from 2004–2007, was Chief of Staff to Second Lady Lynne Cheney from 2002–2003 and, previously, Social Secretary to the Vice President. She is the creator of the blog America’s Table, and lives in Washington, DC.
Jeremy Bernard served as White House Social Secretary and Special Assistant to the President from 2011–2015. Previously, he was Senior Advisor to the United States Ambassador in France. Prior to that he was the White House Liaison to the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Jeremy is the Founder and President of JMB Global, LTD, a strategic consulting company, and lives in Los Angeles.
Laura Bush was First Lady of the United States from 2001 to 2009. She founded both the National Book Festival and the Texas Book Festival.
"Treating People Well isn't just about civility. It's a handbook for life. I can't remember the last time I read a book with so much wisdom, told through such compelling and personal stories, with such useful advice on what all of us can do to improve our relationships with our fellow human beings."
—Angela Duckworth, New York Times bestselling author of Grit
“Treating People Well is an essential guide for getting along and getting ahead in our world today. Authors Lea Berman and Jeremy Bernard show us how people from opposite ends of the political spectrum and all walks of life can build relationships, earn trust, and succeed by treating others with civility and respect. Full of life lessons that are both timely and timeless, this is a book that will be devoured, bookmarked, and read over and over again.”
—John McCain, United States Senator
"This warm and gracious little book treats READERS well, entertaining them with stories of close calls, ruffled feathers, and comic misunderstandings as the White House each day attempts to carry through its social life."
—Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal
"Every chapter is built around practical pointers—from ways to ease into a conversation (and, better yet, get out), to the one time never to send a work email . . . We find that confidence is a learnable skill—and get real-world advice on Instagram etiquette, and becoming known as a problem-solver . . . Treating People Well is a great service to people who think they’ve made it but actually have a ways to go, and is a huge gift to young people on their way up."
—Mike Allen, co-founder and executive editor, Axios
"I loved this book! Yes, as promised in the title, it shows you the value of treating people well and gives expert advice, but that is only part of it. The two authors—both former White House Social Secretaries in different administrations—provide fascinating glimpses of what’s behind the scenes at the White House. You’ll learn a lot while being vastly entertained."
—Joan Ganz Cooney, founder, Sesame Street
“Lea and Jeremy’s stories from the White House are not only fascinating, but reveal lessons about the ways we treat one another that can be applied universally. No matter your beliefs, background or what you do for a living, there are takeaways from this book that will make each of us better human beings. By focusing on the things that unite us—love, kindness and empathy—Treating People Well has the power to change the world for the better.”
—Karlie Kloss, supermodel and founder of Kode With Klossy
“A charming memoir . . . the grace-under-pressure lessons here are legion. . . . Whatever your political persuasion, you will understand the meaning of ‘charm offensive.’ The point of the book is that graciousness is not just good for its own sake; it is useful in getting things accomplished, in politics as in life.”
—Judith Newman, The New York Times Book Review
“Berman and Bernard winningly call on their experiences as White House social secretaries . . . the authors weave practical guidance into entertaining behind-the-scenes moments . . . the look behind the curtain at the rarely featured individuals who make the White House run smoothly provides a unique and rewarding insider’s view.”
“With this book, [Berman and Bernard have] condensed their knowledge with the aim of helping readers treat others with dignity and show a willingness to collaborate and listen. They address and elaborate on 12 cornerstones of civility, including handling conflict diplomatically, owning one’s mistakes, and radiating calm. Excellent in terms of getting the ‘inside scoop’ on the White House and training oneself to deal with all kinds of people.”
—Library Journal, starred review
"Each chapter offers common-sense guidance for finding success in both personal and professional relationships and navigating social settings with grace... the book’s theme—treat others well, and you’ll do well, too—is more needed than ever." --BookPage