I often get the question, "what led you to teach etiquette?" and have to step back, take a deep breath and respond because I could go down the rabbit hole with this question.
So, I'm going to give you the long version here. If you've read the "About" me section on our website, you'll quickly realize I was raised by southern women with strong values and beliefs. As children, we were expected to behave, use manners and above all else, be kind to others. The women in my life are some of the most kind women you could meet. At an early age, my aunts and mother formed a charity designed to encourage children to help local children in need. We raised financial support for programs, but more importantly, we were "hands on" with those we were helping so there were many weekends I was in local rescue homes cleaning, organizing or playing. I had no idea how those early years would mold me into the person I am today, but they certainly did.
We participated in dinners and teas to learn proper table etiquette and manners and I assumed everyone shared these same experiences; it was not until later that I realized most people didn't. I was having dinners with the elite, and influential business leaders before I could drive a car and while most of those times I was bored out of my mind, I was never intimidated by which fork to use or where my bread plate was located. (I am extremely thankful for those invaluable lessons.)
Fast forward to adulthood. Remember that I have three adult children? My oldest is 32 (OUCH!) and my youngest is 19 and the middle falls perfectly at 26. The difference in how my sons (the oldest) friends interacted with us when they came to visit at our home vs. my youngest, is mind blowing. It is almost as if our younger generation has been taught to have as little interaction, if any, with others. My 19 year daughter still rolls her eyes when we make her call in our pizza order because, "I can order on my phone so why do I need to speak to someone?" THIS IS CRAZY STUFF PEOPLE! My personal opinion is that the time allowed on cell phones, computers and tablets are mainly to blame but whatever reason, it has to change. I wanted to create a program that empowered our young people to be confident in any situation and that is how Southern Hospitality & Etiquette was born.
My professional career led me to the aesthetic surgical field 31 years ago in management and eventually in marketing and love visiting with offices to assure that we are providing excellent service. The number of times that I've walked into a waiting room or reception area and not been greeted makes me wonder...."Could the owner/management team know that potential clients are not immediately feeling welcomed?" These experiences and background in management and marketing convinced me that we needed to add a business etiquette component to SH&E. The feedback I have received has only confirmed that adults appreciate, even if just a refresher, the life skill sets we instruct on.
I guess my whole life has really led me to this fabulous journey and I couldn't be more thankful. I get to encourage confidence and kindness so when I hear people say that etiquette sounds snobby or boring, I simply smile and say,
"Etiquette is just a fancy word for kindness." -E Maxwell