Social media has definitely changed how we interact with each other on a daily basis. Our world is now operating much faster so it’s easy to forget that there are still basic rules of conduct that should be observed.
Without sounding too pedantic I’d like to mention two incidents that I observed recently that ticked me off.
LATENESS: Sorry, but I’m a stickler for arriving on time for business or social appointments. I have a friend who, for her second marriage, decided to have her honeymoon in South America. “Before we went,” she told me, “everyone told us that they have a different concept of time down there, meaning: everything runs one or two hours late and you can’t let this bother you. We soon found this to be absolutely true.” That’s fine down there, but we live in Manhattan and when I invited a young lady to an event recently who arrived 45 minutes late that was not cultural – it was just plain rude.
THANK YOU: Written thank-you notes have gone the way of the dodo bird so it’s email or nothing. And, at this point, I think that “nothing, zip, zero or nada” is winning. I recently attended a house-warming party and, as I walked in, I handed the host a small gift. He gave me a stunned look, said nothing and walked away. When I told one of his relatives about this, she replied, “Oh, he never says thank you for anything.” I’m still trying to figure that one out.
Based on the above and other incidents I was intrigued when I came across a blog on the web titled, Why the Plaza Hotel’s Business Etiquette Lessons Are Selling Out written by Rina Raphael who attended a session to get a first-hand look and to learn why manners are still very important.
THE FOUNDER: Myka Meier, is the founder and director of the Beaumont Etiquette School that is held in the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. She was trained by a former member of the Royal Household of Her Majesty the Queen and worked at a global firm where she taught international etiquette. After seven years, she decided to strike out on her own and launched her school in New York in 2014.
The interior of the elegant Plaza Hotel in New York City
THE PARTICIPANTS: Most of the attendees are in their twenties and thirties with a 60/40 split between women and men. A recent class had students from all over the country – from California to Alabama.
THE CLASSES: Students can take an hour-long course ($75) or a five-hour intensive one ($599) and learn the intricacies of dining and social interaction – all within continental etiquette standards. It seems that American millennials, raised in a rather casual culture, feel they are lacking these skills. “The most important thing is showing respect,” explains Meier.
Too many choices can be a daunting experience
THE RELEVANCE: This is not your grandmother’s etiquette class. Meier gives a modern spin infused with practical, current advice. For example: sprinkled within the courses are rules on how to email, introduce business colleagues, navigate a wine menu, and start a conversation (never with “So what do you do?”) Comment: I once worked at a company that stressed phone manners and “Who’s calling?” was never to be used.
Entertaining with style makes everyone feel good
THE RESPONSE: So far, the popularity of the classes has surpassed Meier’s expectations. The intensive workshops sold out within 24 hours. With digital life growing at an alarming speed, so too is modern etiquette evolving. The classes give students the tools to attract whatever it is they want in business – be it more clients, a higher position or better rapport with colleagues. Or, as Meier says, “The most successful people are the most charming. And you can learn charm. It’s all about evoking positive emotion.”
MAY WE SUGGEST…
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