The next time one launches a takeover bid, should one send a sealed letter to the chairman of the target company by courier, or might one get away with simply issuing a press release? This is the sort of question that is liable to worry the rising businessman.
Alas, Debrett's Guide to Business Etiquette (just published in paperback by Headline at £7.99) offers very little help here, being almost exclusively concerned with behaviour in the accounts department. Anyway, it's a curiously anaemic world where people write letters, make phone calls and attend meetings, all without any evident purpose. They also have affairs, though. In which eventuality they are advised to keep the matter to themselves. 'Few colleagues ever smile benignly on those who waste time on an intimate personal relationship during office hours,' observes author Nicholas Yapp.
In his prescriptions for these phantom office workers, Yapp manages to fuse two distinct modes of conduct: the 'correct' and the politically correct. Don't stub your cigarette out in the ashtray on someone else's desk, he cautions. And be careful not to compliment a female colleague on her attire. Odd name, Yapp. Makes you wonder what it derives from. Collins gives only 'yap': 'Informal. to talk at length in an annoying or stupid way; jabber. Slang. annoying or stupid speech'. Just the kind of behaviour he would deplore.