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April 11, 2024 20 mins

It’s time for an etiquette update for Jana, and she’s getting tips from a pro: manners expert Sara Jane Ho!

Find out what is most important when it comes to manners and why it’s *sometimes* okay to break up over a text!

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Wind Down with Janet Kramer and I'm Heart Radio podcast.
So this week's Thursday Therapy, we have Sarah Jane Hoe.
She's a Harvard Business School grad, Netflix star and manners
expert who founded institutes in China to teach manners and etiquette.
Her new book, Mind Your Manners is out now. So
the book provides readers the tools that can help us

all to thrive socially, professionally, and romantically at home and abroad,
both in person and online. So let's see how we
can improve our manners friendship, social work, dating relationships, family, food,
and travel. Let's get around.

Speaker 2 (00:37):
Hi, Hi Jana, how are you? I am well, Thank
you so much for inter It's such an honor.

Speaker 1 (00:45):
Oh my gosh, you're so sweet. I mean, it's an
honor to chat with you. Congrats because by the time
this episode airs, your book will be out, so I'm
so excited to get my hands on it too, because
manners is a big, big thing in our household. But
I love the fact that your book breaks it down
into the different parts too, because I've never really thought

about it in the dating and relationship world or the
friendship and social life world too. So I'm curious to
kind of break down the differences of where the manners
come in with that, Like I think in my mind
I know what it might be, but I'm just curious.
Like for you, well, first and foremost, did you grow
up in a house where you're like manners were the
number one thing at like the dinner table and so on.

Speaker 2 (01:30):
Yeah, that is a great question. I grew up in
Hong Kong. Well, actually, by the age of fourteen, I
had lived in Papua New Guinea, the UK, Hong Kong
where my parents are originally from, and exit to New
Hampshire where I went to boarding school. I went to
Phillips Sister Academy, and my mom is, I don't know
if you've heard of the term tiger mother. Does that

book battle him of the Tiger Mom?

Speaker 1 (01:53):
Okay, yep.

Speaker 2 (01:55):
And that's how a lot of Chinese parents are in
Hong Kong. Mother's a particularly tiger. My mother was very demanding.
She was a very high achieving woman. And she she
was very demanding of me too. So even let's say
if I were at a we were having lunch with family,
friends or with family, if somebody's gloss was, you know,

was half empty, she would be kicking me under the
dinner table, motioning me to top up, you know, so
and so's tea cop or wine gloss. So I definitely
grew up and I do think that. I do think that,
and part of you know, my etiquete school that I
have in China, the reason why we chose not to
teach children but to teach mothers is because I think

it really begins with mothers and in the home. And
I think the most beautiful gift of a parent can
give their child as good manners.

Speaker 1 (02:49):
So that's my one question with that is because we
are big manners table. You know, my daughter, especially she
has she's a little bit more of a difficult time
sitting at the table, and she's always moving or moving
her chair and I'm like, Jolie, you know, please sit down,
and then you know she's she'd rest her hand like that,
like all right, you know, don't don't put hair on

the table, keep her keep her legs down. And I
feel like I'm riding her. But and I don't want
to be that parents like Jolie puts your legs down,
Julie's put your hand down, or like Jase put your
hand down and it's like, but I'm also like, I
was raised on like manners and etiquette too at the table,
and I think it's important because I don't just want
a bunch of wild animals at the table, so I
wanted to be enjoyable for everyone there. So do you

think that's because you were raised in that more tiger
mom era, like where do you think it's a bad
thing to ride the kid that much?

Speaker 2 (03:41):
Then? Uh? You know, I think that as like in
the old times, parents are much more strict, right and
now especially with you know your you and I are
the same generation, and as millennials, we we are much
more I think we're much more softer and aware of
some of the mental health issues for our for our children.

But I do think that discipline is still very important,
and I don't regret my mother being, you know, disciplining
me and being strict with me, because when when you
go out into the world, and you know, I think
it's it also depends how old your child is. I mean,
if she's very young, then she probably has some issues

focusing right at such a young age. But I do
think that discipline and routine and you know, just good
parenting is.

Speaker 1 (04:31):
Very important, right no, I mean I totally agree with
you there, and it's something that you know, I'm going
to continue to do. My fiance is very helpful with
me too as well, like we make sure that you
know it's it's not it's something that they you know,
not eating with their mouths, you know open, and you
know it's it's all of that. But I'm curious on

the flip side of things when you go into like
what are some manners in the dating and relationship and
friendship so area too that you talk about in your book. Yeah.

Speaker 2 (05:03):
So the book is spread across five different chapters, so
there's love and relationships, dating relationships, family, Korea, food and
travel and and so you know, I'd say we can
start off with social I guess, but you know one
thing is that uh well, I always say, like one

thing that every could everybody could do better around the
world is greetings and introductions. And that's also when somebody
introduces two people, that is when it's very revealing if
they how they do it, you can you can tell
number one, I guess how they were raised, like in
their level of EQ and number two, uh, like how

good of a host they are a lot of people
would just say, oh, this is Sarah Jane. This is Jana.
She's also a Sagittarist. You're December second, right, she well,
she's December fifth. You two are both Sagittarist friends of mine.
You know, Johnas from Michigan and Sarah James from Hong Kong,
and you know, you're both sort of newly married slash engaged,

and John is just about to have a baby or
just had a baby, and Sarah Jans you know, planning
on having kids. So being when you're doing introductions to
be able to give enough information about each person who's
met each other for the first time so that they
can easily continue a conversation and you can actually even
bow out that to me, is shows a very high

level of hosting or hostessing.

Speaker 1 (06:30):
I like that. I feel like I feel like I
do that because I always want everyone to be friends. Yeah,
and I want everyone to like get along or to
be able to talk or just like have something in common.
So I feel like I try to do that. Okay,
But on the dating side, what's the best manner that
you think is something that people should take away from

the book as well?

Speaker 2 (06:53):
Oh, I think that well for dating, and actually this
can even apply to social too. The most attractive thing
about a post is how is conflict resolution? Because everybody, right,
when things are going well, everybody, it's easy, it's easy
to be on good behavior. But when something doesn't go
your way, how you deal with that that really shows

who you are as a person. And on the flip side.
So in my Netflix show Mind You Man is one
of my students, Rochelle. She told me during the dumpling
making session that when she was younger and just started
dating her aunties, so her mother's sisters told her, when
you first start dating a guy early on, disagree with
something or break a date, and that's almost.

Speaker 1 (07:36):
Like a missed a test for what though, a test.

Speaker 2 (07:40):
To see how he's going to respond. And you know what,
if he gets angry, if he gets aggressive, if he's
not okay with things not going his way, then those
are like red flags of I mean, even like abusive behavior.

Speaker 1 (07:54):
Later down the line, ladies, listen up, that's a good
little I mean, I don't I low the game playing
in relationships. Having said that, that's a good one if
you're gonna do it.

Speaker 2 (08:07):
And it's a test, right, especially if you're looking for
to be serious with somebody and you want to know
what they're going to be. Like everybody always puts on
their best behavior in the beginning. It's like the longer
you're in it, right, then everything else comes out. So
this is app You should absolutely be testing somebody early.

Speaker 1 (08:23):
On, and you don't see that as games.

Speaker 2 (08:26):
No, no, this is not manipulative, but because it should
be something because something always happens. Let's say you're meant
to have a date, but then you had to work
later the office, right, or something came up your boss
you needed to turn something in for like a deadline
was like pushed early, was brought forward right, Or you
just are not feeling well and you just don't don't
feel like going to the movies because you came down
with a cold. Right, So be who you are, but like,

don't be afraid to don't be afraid to express this.
And you know, I've one of my younger days, I've
been in relationships with controlling people, and I think so
have you, And how much could we have saved ourselves
if we had known these things sooner? So to me,
the sexiest man is somebody who is able to resolve
conflict in a calm and mature way, and I feel

that I have that in my husband. Where you know,
difficult conversations, how do you approach difficult conversations right? Are
you calm or do you get like you know? Do
you get dramatic and emotional and aggressive like you can?
I often say etiquette. People think etiquette is one big no,
it's one big limiting thing, like you can't do this,
You can't say that. People will come to me and say, oh,
Sarah Jane, but I have really bad etiquette because I'm

too honest, Like this person does not under that stand
the spirit of etiquette. Etiquette is enabling, It is empowering.
It will let you do what you want to do.
It will let you speak to the person you want
to speak to. It will let you set a boundary
that you want to set. It's all just about how
you do it.

Speaker 1 (09:46):
Honesty is obviously the number one key and the best
thing to be, but it's how you also deliver that
is I think the etiquette and right and the manners
in it right exactly. Yeah, did you break up with

a boyfriend over text message? Did I see that on
your show?

Speaker 2 (10:15):
It was on my show, It was on my New
York Times style profile.

Speaker 1 (10:18):
Oh yeah, there you go. You know. So I'm curious
about that because if we flip the script, right, and
that's me and my my fiancee like to say a lot,
like all right, if we flip the script, how would
it feel on the other side? So if that flip
the script, like have you been broken up with on
a text message? And would you have appreciated that?

Speaker 2 (10:39):
Well, nobody would appreciate its being broken up with overtext.
I probably, I mean, I'd probably have been was it.

Speaker 1 (10:44):
A week moment? In manners with his Sarah? Like we
all make is it? We all make mistakes.

Speaker 2 (10:49):
Here's the thing New York Times for my style profile,
they shadowed me over like two three days, and of
course they take the one thing that I.

Speaker 1 (10:56):
Say, well, obviously, welcome to being a select you know.

Speaker 2 (11:01):
And I was like when I opened when I saw
that article, because they don't tell you, they don't give
you advanced notices, you know. And I saw that article
and I cringe, and I send it to my cousin Adrian,
who's like my bestie, and she was like OMG. And
then and I was like, oh, do I post this
or not? Because it's my neual time stole profile really
like the photo, but this headline. And ten minutes later,

when she finished reading the uticle, my cousin she was like,
you know what, this is actually the best headline and
I was like, you know what it is because it's
showing that etiquette is contextual and by the and and
so and and like it's also unexpected and I'm never
trying to pretend to be holier than thou or or

like you know, like I'm not Missgoddy two shoes. I'm
I like to say, I'm mismatterers with a touch of Machiavelli.
And and by the way, so that was on again,
off again boyfriend. He was really good controlling. It was
data here and I was just like here, I am, like,
you know, teaching my students to be there best selves.

And then on the other hand, I have this controlling
and insecure boyfriend who's calling all the time, made me
cry like before I show up on set. And by
the way, his ex wife had divorced him by email
and cecied his mother.

Speaker 1 (12:20):
Oh so this is a track record then for his
life too.

Speaker 2 (12:25):
I think it's okay to ghost, it's okay to break
up with a text when somebody's in denial and not
and not like and not accepting your decision. Right, he's
and he had trouble with like me saying boundaries.

Speaker 1 (12:37):
Listen, girl, I've done it too, So this is not
me coming on to you like this is. I think
it's just one of those things where you know, if
that's your if if it's safer to text, you know,
if you if you feel safer to have that conversationation
over text, then that's the way to do it. You know.
I think there's adequacy in maybe not ghosting someone that
to me, I don't I've never liked even in the

dating world. I'm like, just say you're not in to me, like,
I'm actually fine with that. I've at least given that
respect to other people over text. I have a hard
time doing it on the phone because it's said uncomfortable why.
I don't want to upset them, but I also want
to speak my truth. So you know, I think there's
for me, at least in the dating world. I think
ghosting is very poor Etiquett and I don't think it's

really fair. I think you just be like, hey, I'm sorry.
I'm just either either lie or say I'm not into
you one of the two like just be like I'm
just not ready and you want to go be with
someone other girl tomorrow night. Fine, but just like be
honest like with or or just like let me know
or just don't like disappear as what I would. But
then again that shows like the guy's character. So any

time a girlfriend in the dating world is like, oh,
this guy didn't text me back, I'm like, well, then
you know what he was not worth, Like, he's not
your person. Move on next, you know, don't waste your
time totally.

Speaker 2 (13:50):
And for me, I'll even just you know, delete that
person because I'm very much about moving on and not
looking in the past. I like to look forward. I
think that's a very Sagittarian trait.

Speaker 1 (13:58):
What you're Sagittarius too, Yeah, I'm.

Speaker 2 (14:00):
December five, you're December.

Speaker 1 (14:02):
Two, I'm yeah.

Speaker 2 (14:04):
And and so to me, it's like, you know what,
some people will like you, some people won't. Some people
can't date you because maybe they already have an existing
relationship or some issue going on their life. And but
so what like, move on next?

Speaker 1 (14:17):
So what did post malone asked ask you for?

Speaker 2 (14:22):
Are you talking about the Instagram posts that I have
of me and him holding chopsticks up to the camera
from from October.

Speaker 1 (14:29):
Yeah, so he reached out to you when he was
on tour, right.

Speaker 2 (14:33):
No, so okay, No, so my friend, I'm my friend
was part of his tour. My childhood friend. Yeah, my
childhood friend. Uh. And so I just joined them. I
was in Singapore for F one which he was headlining,
and then I joined them in Hong Kong for a
part of his Asia tour. And we were at a
and we were at a Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong,
and when everybody sat down, there were two pairs of

chopsticks on the table. So for each Post that's in
a chopstick and out of chopstick, and pretty much like
everybody e stuff. For me was kind of confused. But
what I love about post is that Posty as we
call him, is that he is so secure. He is
so respectful of different cultures. This was like amazing to me,

Like I it was really unexpected, but so amazing to
learn that about him. He really wanted to understand like
the proper way in each culture of how to you
know of a custom or how to use a you
know of the food. So I explained and icclated to
every of the table. I said, there's an inner chopstick,
well this is the outer chopstick, and they're both situated

on the right hand side of your plate. But the
outside chopstick is the one that is used to bring
food from the lazy susan or from the common dishes
to your plate. It never touches your mouth, so it's clean.
And then the chopstick on the inside is the one
that brings food to your mouth. So that's like you're
personal that you know, with your salive on it. Ah, right,
isn't that fun? And she was the of a whole table.

He was the only person who asked. You know, most
people would not, as they kind of be like, oh,
a little confused, a little embarrassed, but just see what
other people do. And he said, oh, what are these chopsticks?
And I explained, and he is such a gentleman. Post
Malone is such a gentleman.

Speaker 1 (16:14):
So there was no man or no manner problems with
post Malone.

Speaker 2 (16:17):
I like that none. He told me some incredible one
that he taught you, just the way he treated people
and how he used humor to uh to diffuse like
any awkward situations, like he was always so relaxed and
you went to bring in humor. He's very funny and
he's incredibly nice, and he notices everybody in the room.

Speaker 1 (16:38):
Oh that's that's that's beautiful. I love that instead of
because because I'm sure a lot of people are noticing him.
He's not one that's easy to hide. So it's that's that.
I love that. I love to hear that. That's great.
All right, favorite chapter in your book? Why and what
do you want the biggest takeaway to be for your book?

Speaker 2 (16:58):
Oh? Favorite chapter in my book. Well, you know, writing
this book was really cathartic for me because I obviously
I bring a lot of anecdotes, case studies, a lot
of a lot of mini pro tips, but also a
lot of my failings, a lot of my personal stories.
I make myself very vulnerable in my book. And it's

a very meaty book. Like I wanted a book that
was that would scratch the service and be really practical
and help people see things in a different way. So
every single chapter, even writing the family chapter, I mean,
you know, nothing cuts us to the core like a
family conflict, right, and our family they really know how
to push our buttons because probably because they installed them.

And then writing the love chapter was it made me
like review all my relationships and it's a sad you know,
there have been a few relationships.

Speaker 1 (17:54):
Yeah, yeah, we love to love.

Speaker 2 (17:57):
And so that that was probably like one of the
most meaningful chapters to me, of which would because I
feel that I don't regret any any single relationship I've had,
even the bad ones, sure, because it taught me the
kind of person that I don't want to be and
the kind of person I don't want to be with.
And then the beautiful relationships, you know, the ones that

taught me how to love and how to be loved,
I'm also grateful for because it's also just helped me
be a better partner to my husband and realize that
like it's something that you really have to work on constantly. No, yes, yeah,
so I would probably say, like the love and relationships
chapter is one of my favorites.

Speaker 1 (18:38):
And then what is the biggest takeaway that you want
for your readers?

Speaker 2 (18:42):
My biggest takeaway for my readers would be that you know,
people people think, so like the way I approach this
book and the way I've really approached my life because
I've lived in so many different cultures, is that I
see myself as a microcultural anthropology. Just I went to Georgetown.
I was an English major, but my favorite class was anthropology,

which is a study of human behavior. And I feel that,
you know, you don't even have to go to a
different country to see a different microculture. You could, like
even in our one day. In our lives, we move
across many like even the office, different departments, or different
sets of friends. These are all different microcultures. And every
time I go I meet somebody new, I'm with a

new group of people or in a new country. The
first thing I'm doing is I see myself as what
we call in the field, and I'm observing and I'm thinking,
what are the codes of conduct here? How are people behaving,
how are they speaking, what is their accent, what slang
are they using? Are they more aggressive or are they
more like Type A or are they Type B? You know,
And then I'm sort of unconsciously adjusting myself to make

them feel comfortable around me, because that is what etiquette
really is. It's about putting other people around you at ease.
And once they feel comfortable around you, then you feel
comfortable around them, and I feel that that is what
makes us human, which is belonging human connection, and it's
something that we need now more than ever, especially coming
out of the pandemic right where all of our social

skills are a little bit rusty. I mean, we all
went through a mental health crisis globally from lockups, from
being locked down, yeah, fan lockdowns. Yeah, and especially for children,
you know, for students who missed out on all that
socializing in college and school.

Speaker 1 (20:33):
Yeah. Well, Sarah, thank you so much for coming on
mind Down. I appreciate it, and everyone go get mind
your manners. It's out now. Thank you so much, friends,
appreciate you.
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