Sitting in the beautiful living room of Lea Berman’s elegant, historic home (one of the oldest in Washington, DC), we talked with Lea about her new book “Treating People Well” and heard wonderful stories from her days as the White House Social Secretary. One would imagine someone with Lea’s professional background to be gracious. She is, but she also exudes an elegant, quiet confidence, much like that of former First Lady Laura Bush with whom Lea worked closely. Lea is beautiful, graceful, kind, funny, and at all times focused on you — making you comfortable and putting you at ease. She shared her experiences authentically and easily as we jumped from topic to topic — confidence, career, children, work-life balance, partnership, bipartisanship, networking, and of course etiquette and civility.
Lea’s book, which she co-authored with Obama White House Social Secretary Jeremy Bernard (the first man to ever hold the role of Social Secretary), is less “Manners 101,” and more lessons for life and getting along in every setting.
As Lea writes on her blog America’s Table: “So often people think that social skills are innate – you’re born funny, or you’re born charming – but that’s not necessarily true. Social skills are learned behavior that anyone can employ to make their lives easier, by employing that extra bit of patience or kindness or respect needed to create a connection with another person. Jeremy and I may come from very different political backgrounds, but we firmly agree that everyone deserves to be treated well; we don’t assume the worst about someone because their views are different from our own. We believe there’s more that unites than divides us. Taking that approach can have a surprisingly calming and positive impact on anyone’s daily life.”
Words to live by! Lea also told me, “Rudeness is contagious,” which is one reason it seems to catch fire on social media bleeding over into our shared social consciousness. Whatever the reason, Lea’s book and her approach is reason to celebrate, and a reminder to think twice before reacting in a way that spreads rudeness like the flu.
Lea’s insights, and her leadership are helping to reframe a much-needed focus on civility. She is a wonderful example of using her own voice, her own experiences, and her own passions to make a difference in the lives of others. That’s what She Said/She Said is all about!
You can find Lea’s book on Amazon. Don’t miss the audio version!
To learn more about Lea, check out her wonderful blog: America’s Table.
Thank you Lea for the wonderful time together and for sharing your perspective with She Said/She Said!