Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Chances are, many of you are ringing in the New Year with a Bowl Game. But - horrors - what if, heaven forbid, you are watching the game with fans of the opposing team?

Most of us can laugh off good-natured ribbing, but hardcore fans might have a hard time watching their beloved team bad-mouthed by the person sitting next to them on the couch.

What to do?

Millie Chastain - owner of the Protocol School of Alabama, certified and trained by the Protocol School of Washington, and a colleague of ours here at The Etiquette & Leadership Institute - was interviewed by College Sports Matchup on this very subject. You can read the article here.

We love her words of wisdom. She mentions how easy it is to brag when your team is winning, but that it's important "to know that sportsmanship should always win out.”

In other words, if you are sitting around in a room full of people watching a game, pause a moment. Look around you. Remember why you are hanging out: you're friends. Friends with diverse opinions on all sorts of things - politics, food, movies, music, and yes, even sports. Then look at the TV screen and marvel at the displays of athleticism. Isn't that cool? Celebrate the spectacle, the snacks on the coffee table, the fun and laughter surrounding you. Sometimes it's not about who wins or loses - it's about hanging out and having fun, two important things worth celebrating.

Here's to a happy and healthy 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Guest blogger: Jay Remer on New Year's etiquette

Today’s post comes from Jay H. Remer, Jr., International Protocol and Corporate Etiquette Consultant. Known as “The Etiquette Guy” in the blogosphere, Remer is trained and certified by the Protocol School of Washington, and is a frequent columnist for the Telegraph Journal and National Post in Canada.

Thank you, Jay!

Etiquette for the New Year
By Jay Remer

The time has come once again to begin to set our sights on the fast approaching New Year. It’s Christmas after all, and a time for most of us when our families get together to celebrate this joyous holiday. We can look back over the past year and contemplate the many blessings we have received. For me, the year was one for new endings and new beginnings. As I often do, near the start of a new year, I make a list of all of the projects I would like to start or finish during the coming year, dividing them into business, personal, and spiritual. This helps me to set goals and to monitor my progress throughout the year, making necessary adjustments along the way. It’s interesting to compare the lists from year to year and in so doing, catch a glimpse of how I am changing both within myself and in my relationship to others. This is a very grounding activity, one which allows reflection as well as an opportunity to be grateful.

The world is facing some very tough challenges in the coming year. Across the globe many societies are in dire need of help. The planet is experiencing the effects of global warming and we are waking up to the idea that we must act responsibly as stewards in order to avert almost certain disaster. The economy is forcing many of us to endure struggles we had never hoped for. And, in many ways, we are coming together as humans to work to solve these problems more cohesively than ever before.

Those of you who have followed this column may have noticed that I have emphasized the need for compassion in our every day lives. What we do every day and how we do it is in fact the etiquette by which we choose to live our lives. The choices we make affect those around us continually. Being aware of how much of an impact we have on others helps us in making our choices. Therefore the more aware we are of what we are doing, the more careful we will be in how we choose to do it. Although this principle is widely accepted, it comes with no manual, no set of instructions, on how to make the best choices we can.

During this coming year, I hope people will feel more comfortable putting others first, even if only a little bit more than they do now. I hope we can all learn to give ourselves and each other a break, even if only a little more frequently than we do now. And I hope we can protect our children from making uninformed and potentially harmful choices, even if we reach out to only one child more than we already do. If we all made a conscious effort in the coming year to be a little bit less self absorbed, a little bit more patient, and a little bit more compassionate, especially toward ourselves, we will wake up one day to a happier and more peaceful world.

The golden rules of etiquette will never go out of style and how we choose to use them will define who we really are to the world. Be kind always. Be truthful in all communications. Be grateful for everything. Respect all creatures equally. Have a wonderful New Year filled with joy, good health, and many magical moments!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Those two little words

In a month marked by gift-giving, many parents are watching their children open presents…and cringing, wondering what’s going to come out of their kids’ mouths.

Hopefully, older children will have learned already the art of graciously thanking the giver, no matter what’s in the box. But younger children, especially toddlers, have yet to develop that filter. They are completely honest and blurt out what’s on their minds, whether that’s “But I wanted a toy!”, “That’s yuckers,” or even “I don’t like this” (cue sobbing).

Other parents shouldn’t give you too much grief about this—chances are, they’ve witnessed their own little angels creating quite the spectacle from time to time. But there’s no denying that a child’s outburst can easily hurt an adult’s feelings (or devastate another child who has given the gift). And as adults, our role is to guide children to appropriate behavior.

You can help your child by prepping them ahead of time.

Role play. Have a pretend gift exchange with your child. Bonus points for finding toys and other around-the-house objects and “wrapping” them in a blanket, shirt, etc. Even more bonus parts for making it silly (wrap an old shoe in a pair of shorts? Why not!). Practice appropriate reactions when unwrapping these pretend gifts, and remember the most important part, saying…

Two words: Thank you. That’s it. That’s all they have to say. Whether they hate the present, whether they already have it, all they should say is, “Thank you!” and move on. No other words necessary. Making eye contact and smiling is a plus. And don't forget to...

Write a note. It’s never too early to encourage children to write thank-you notes. Homemade cards that feature illegible scribbling or the painstaking efforts of a child’s early autograph can be a keepsake.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 6, 2010

At least Santa has help

Let’s just admit that holiday shopping can be rough. There are insane crowds, relentless piped-in holiday music, elusive parking spaces, traffic jams, and the extreme likelihood of running into another shopper who is intensely grumpy and not afraid to share it.

As annoying as all that can be for shoppers, think of the store employees!

How about making life easier for everyone?

• Put your cell phone away, especially while making a purchase. Try smiling and talking directly to the sales associate. And refer back to our earlier post on using cell phones in public places. (And please, please put the cell phone down while cruising parking lots and busy streets.)

• Consider self-help, literally. Many stores have computer terminals for customer use, and using them to search for items in the building may save you time.

• Think of the children! Seriously, shopping can be extremely frustrating and tedious to children (at least when they complain or cry, they have the excuse of exhibiting completely developmentally appropriate behavior). Bring a toy, snack or book to occupy them. Even if your children are perfect angels, the store employees will be quite busy enough without babysitting them. Most of all, remember your top responsibility is attending to your children’s needs — even if that means leaving early and having to shop again another day.

• Exercise patience. You are one of many shoppers, and the store employee may be juggling a lot of different demands. If an employee is helping another shopper, refrain from yelling out a question or request for help.

• Be flexible. Sometimes, you won’t be able to find exactly what you want. While you naturally may be disappointed, loudly proclaiming that someone’s Christmas will now be ruined will not change anything. Also, this is a good time to step back and reevaluate what you want Christmas to mean to you and your family.

• Remember to thank those who help you.

Finally, if you or your friends are especially hard hit by the economy, take these tips on how to “mind your money manners.”

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Finding thanks (or something else)

Tomorrow’s the day. Many Americans are gathering with family and friends to celebrate their collective thanks over a gigantic meal. For some people, that prospect is not so easy, whether that’s due to strained family relationships, clashing personalities, or simply shyness.

You’ve probably read all the tips: avoid talking about religion, politics, or money. Have topics of conversation filed away that you can grab at awkward pauses. Keep people busy with activities. Don’t drink to excess.

But here’s another idea. This year, try compassion. Try empathy. Try love. If your Aunt Hilda drives you nuts, remember that she has problems, too.

If all else fails, listen to John and Yoko.

In 1979, John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote an open letter published in the New York Times. “When somebody is angry with us, we draw a halo around his or her head in our minds,” they wrote. “Does the person stop being angry then? Well, we don't know! We know, though, that when we draw a halo around a person, suddenly the person starts to look like an angel to us. This helps us feel warm towards the person, reminds us that everyone has goodness inside, and that all people who come to us are angels in disguise, carrying messages and gifts to us from the Universe.”

Too hippyish for you? Maybe, but it’s a lot better than hiding in the hallway every time a certain relative rounds the corner.

There’s another part of that letter that could have been written today: “We are thankful every day for the plentifulness of our life. This is not a euphemism. We understand that we, the city, the country, the earth are facing very hard times, and there is panic in the air. Still the sun is shining and we are here together, and there is love between us, our city, the country, the earth.”

Here’s another little nugget from another musical icon: “What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding?”

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Set a place for children

It's the season for dinner parties. In the U.S., Thanksgiving is right around the corner, itself an occasion for families to gather and dine together. But then starts a whirlwind of yet more holiday dinner parties - requiring weeks of planning menus, deciding who to put where at the table, and bringing out the fine china (or, in some perfectly respectable cases, plates that match).

As children's etiquette consultants, we believe in including children in everyday demonstrations of good manners. This is the perfect opportunity to talk about place settings at the table.

Several years ago, The Washington Post offered very helpful diagrams of both informal and formal table settings.

But let's bring this to a useful level for children. Simplify the table setting to the plates and flatware your child will actually use (in our example below, we include a bread plate; you may choose to take that out). Older children can make this a fun craft project to brighten up the holiday table. With our guide, your child can draw his or her own placemat, which then can be laminated. Extra crafty types can whip up a cloth placemat, onto which children can draw with fabric markers. Ours was made with construction paper, markers, and crayon.

Happy eating!


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Training week!

What is going on in this picture? And can you spot Spider-Man?

Last week reminded us that we are so lucky.

For one thing, we got to spend a lot of quality time with Northeast Georgia’s best and brightest children and teenagers. When we opened Perfectly Polished: The Etiquette School in 1985, we had 20 students, ages 10-13 years old. Now, with the help of high school and college staff members, we teach around 4,000 students a year in 12 area counties. They range in age from elementary to high school, and we have a blast together as we learn about etiquette and social dance.

Besides that, held training last week, meaning we got to certify other people how to do the exact same thing in their own hometowns as children’s etiquette consultants.

Angela Jordan traveled from Chattanooga, TN

Dawn Jumper visited from Lookout Mountain, TN

We established The Etiquette & Leadership Institute in 2005, when we acquired the Children’s Training Division of the Protocol School of Washington. We have since trained and certified 350 children’s etiquette consultants from all over the U.S. and 17 other countries. This session, we had a consultant from California who was trained by PSOW and is seeking re-certification, plus soon-to-be consultants from Georgia, Tennessee, and Spain.

Kari Reeves from Watkinsville, GA, and Angela Jordan

So, what did we do last week? In addition to our regular sessions, we took our trainees to the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta to observe and help teach. We talked about conveying the importance of wearing professional attire to college students. We discovered the power of using props and activities when teaching children. And there’s so, so much more. Every time consultants leave our training, they are ready to teach etiquette and social dance. We even give them a business plan and teaching materials. They can hit the ground running, so to speak.

Carla Tyson came from Pleasanton, CA

Lizette Donnai came from Spain

A wonderful side benefit to training is the friendships we make and sustain long after training is over. Our next one is in April 2011. Interested? Let us know!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just treats, please

Do you live in October Country?

It’s a place where “the hills are fog and the rivers are mist…whose people are autumn people, thinking only autumn thoughts…whose people passing at night on the empty walks sound like rain…”

That lovely piece of writing is from Ray Bradbury’s “The October Country,” and it describes this time of year perfectly (though it’s a little more humid than foggy where we live). It’s also the time of year when little spooks ring our doorbells and ask for candy.

Halloween really is a little tricky. We spent a lot of time telling children not to accept candy from strangers, after all.

On the other hand, the holiday is a great opportunity to teach your children how to politely interact with others.

• Plan ahead. This year, Halloween falls on a Sunday, prompting some communities to switch Halloween activities to Oct. 30. Some neighborhoods also have established times for acceptable trick-or-treating. Regardless of your own thoughts on this subject, learn when your community will celebrate—it’s no fun to get dressed up, ring doorbells, and find out all the candy is gone.

• When meeting other trick-or-treaters on the sidewalk, say hello and step to the right to pass them. Avoid plowing down smaller children.

• If you’re collecting candy by car, close car doors softly and be alert when walking around moving vehicles.

• Avoid houses with no lights on—there won’t be any candy there, anyway.

• Encourage patience while waiting in line at a popular house. Ring the doorbell only once (try to restrain yourself from banging on the door, even if you are pining for sugar). When the door opens, say “Trick or Treat!” or “Happy Halloween”—but don’t shove your bag in the person’s face.

• If you’re given the bowl of candy to choose from, don’t hem and haw and pick your way through—just take a few pieces (not a handful) and be on your way. But first remember to say thank you!

• Leave behind a good impression, not candy wrappers on the lawn or trampled flowers in the garden. Similarly, admire holiday decorations, but don’t touch or play with them.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Turn off your phone, please

“Turn off my phone?” you might think. “But I can’t! Are you nuts? I’m expecting a call from my mother/father/husband/wife/brother/sister/babysitter/boss/employee/mechanic…”

Obviously, there are times when you are indeed waiting for an important—perhaps life-changing—call. We aren’t suggesting that you turn off your phone during these emergencies.

But, let’s be honest. Do you really need to have your phone on at the dentist’s? At the grocery store? In the movie theater, for Pete’s sake?

Maybe you are thinking, “Yes, I do!” We gently suggest, “Actually, you probably don’t.”

In our technological age, we’ve grown accustomed to being constantly connected to nearly everyone we know. We are easily, instantly accessible ourselves. At this time in our lives, turning off your cell phone might feel like a violation of nature.

Here’s our suggestion. If you absolutely cannot turn off your phone, try turning off the ringer. (And then put your phone out of sight—a cell phone just looks strange on the table next to your dinner plate).

And when are those appropriate times to go phone-free? A good rule of thumb is, “Wherever you are unable to speak on the phone in private.” Think about it. Do you want to hear all the details on someone else’s messy breakup or latest office gossip while trying to use a store restroom or take public transit?

Let us help you!

When to turn your cell phone off…

In your professional life.
Whether you are a full-time student, stay-at-home parent, working your first job or a seasoned professional, turn off your cell phone:
• During class
• While attending work or parent-teacher conferences
• During a job interview
• When on a work deadline

In your family life. Both family milestones and certain everyday moments might require you to unplug. Turn off your cell phone:
• In places of worship
• In hospitals (especially during a birth!)
• During court sessions
• At weddings
• While trying out a complicated new recipe, and later at the dinner table
• At funerals

At special events, social gatherings or classes. Both you and your fellow patrons will enjoy yourselves more if you turn off your cell phone:
• At movie theaters, plays, poetry readings, choral recitals, concerts
• In museums and libraries
• During dance, yoga or aerobics class

While out and about. Focus on your errands and turn off your cell phone:
• At the ATM, in checkout lines, or when approaching anyone in customer service
• In public bathrooms
• In bank and fast food drive-throughs, or at school pickup lines
• While pumping gas or taking public transportation

Where do you turn off your phone?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Civility is the key to stop bullying

It’s inexcusable. It must stop. It’s time to act now to stop bullying.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. According to the Pacer Center, bullied students are more likely to have higher rates of poor grades, low self-esteem and self-confidence, and depression and anxiety. There is a clear link between depression and suicide.

Let’s not forget the children who bully, who themselves need help. Research tells us that bullies are often feel as insecure, powerless and depressed as their victims.

It might sound overly simplistic, but the key to ending bullying is civility. Adults must model it themselves and teach it to our youth. A lot of people still think of etiquette as being something quaint, old-fashioned, best left to their grandparents’ generation. And yet, when it comes down to it, etiquette is simply about treating others with the kindness and respect we all deserve.

Rutgers University agrees. The school recently launched Project Civility, “a two-year, university-wide dialogue,” following the suicide of 18-year-old student Tyler Clementi, who was bullied for being gay. His death followed three other suicides of gay teenagers, all in the month of September alone—Billy Lucas, 15, in Indiana; Asher Brown, 13, in Texas; and Seth Walsh, also 13, in California. (Research shows that gay youth are four times more likely to commit suicide than their peers.)

Rutger’s Project Civility covers topics like bullying, hazing, and the influence of technology on civil behavior—but it also covers how to behave on a bus, good sportsmanship, and other manners you might assume most people already know. The truth is, the task of spreading civility and goodwill is more important now than ever. In fact, a recent University of Michigan study suggests that college students significantly lack empathy compared to previous generations. Data taken from 1979 to 2009 shows that today’s students have a 48% decrease in empathetic concern and a 34% decrease in perspective taking.

That’s terribly depressing news, but it’s also a call to action. We must make the notion of civility a priority, and we must start with our children.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What if you forget someone's name?

Why is April McLean wearing a birthday cake on her head? Keep reading…

It’s happened to you before, hasn’t it? You recognize the face, move to say hello, and…the person’s name just falls right out of your head. Forgetting an acquaintance’s name can be embarrassing, but we’ve all done it—and sometimes we manage to have a pleasant interaction without having to admit it (only later to remember, “Oh yes, THAT’S her name…”).

But what if you’re about to introduce someone and you forget someone’s name? The horror!

You might think you can get away with smiling brightly at Mystery Name and glossing over her name entirely: “Oh, hello! I wanted you to meet my friend, John Smith.” (And then you fervently hope that Mystery Name will solve the problem by introducing herself.)

And truthfully, maybe you can get away with it—it’s unlikely either friend would call you out on your foggy memory, after all. But in order to introduce someone properly, you should know and say aloud both names.

If you forget someone’s name, make eye contact, smile, and say, “Please tell me your name.” Making eye contact and smiling is of utmost importance: the key to surviving this awkward situation is to focus on the person, not yourself and your faulty memory. Don’t dwell on your forgetfulness, but immediately launch into the introduction: “Ms. Jane Smith, I would like to introduce to you Mr. John Smith.”

Another birthday hat—this time, on the head of one of Debra Lassiter's students…

Yes, you say, “I would like to introduce to you Ms. Jane Smith.” If you have trouble saying “to you” (not “you to”), look at the photos above, and remember that you sing, “Happy birthday to you.” This is an effective memory aid for all ages. April McLean (in the top photo) uses the hat to train adults who become certified children’s etiquette consultants through our company, The Etiquette & Leadership Institute. Debra Lassiter (standing next to students in the second photo) uses the same trick when teaching young people in our etiquette school, Perfectly Polished .

Now: what if you are the one whose name has been forgotten? Try to catch that natural pause in the conversation and simply say, “Hello, my name is Jane Smith. I’m so glad to see you again, John.”

The most important thing to remember is to focus on the introduction and the person to whom you are speaking. Saying, “I forgot your name,” or “I’m sorry,” puts the focus on you, not the person on which it belongs, and merely prolongs the embarrassment.

Don’t be too hard on yourself—even the most socially savvy person has forgotten someone’s name before!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An unexpected salute at the airport

Every once in a while, something totally random happens to reinforce that honor and patriotism are very much part of our American lives. I was waiting at the Houston Hobby airport to catch the next Atlanta-bound plane when an agent announced that a highly decorated, World War II veteran would arrive at Gate 22; serendipitously, I was waiting at Gate 23. The announcement was simply that he would arrive and that a Houston Hobby welcome was in order.

So, I waited, wondering if I could be some help….I’m thinking ribbons, platforms, seating order, the mayor, and more. Minutes go by and the plane arrives and people disembark. I keep waiting for the dignitaries, the balloons, the hoopla. Then, all of a sudden, there is a big crowd, gathered from up and down the concourse. He is 94, and dressed in a red jacket which is almost totally covered by medals, awards, and ribbons. On his head is his Veteran of Foreign Wars cap, covered with even more medals, awards, and ribbons. At least one or more of the medals was given to him as one of the liberators of the Dachau concentration camp. In his scooter, he made a path through the crowd. Everyone was clapping and shouting, “Thank you,” and “Bless you,” and service men in fatigues were saluting him! He was amazed. His response: “Thank you!” with a slight bow of the head.

The impromptu ceremony was not only amazing because of the WWII veteran, but also because people stopped and added their respects to those who have made freedom possible for us and so many others. Sometimes waiting for your plane can be very exciting.

—Cindy Haygood

A very short video of the veteran:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Make the pickup line easy

Is this a familiar scene? It might be, if your child’s school has a dropoff/pickup line for drivers. One mother we know adores hers—she sits in the luxury of her driver’s seat while her son’s teacher escorts him to the car and even straps him into his booster seat.

However, a quick Google search reveals that the dropoff/pickup line can be the bane of some parents’ existence—if it’s plagued by other drivers who are “unclear on the concept” of how it works (as one blogger writes.)

It’s tempting just to complain about other clueless parents, but the truth is that we’ve all made (sometimes embarrassingly) simple mistakes. You can do your part to keep the dropoff/pickup line running safely and smoothly:

Follow the rules.
Your school likely issued the rules of the line, told you exactly where to stop to leave and fetch your kids, and possibly even provided a map of the layout. Keep this information in your car. If you spontaneously forget all of this information, drive slowly, note what other drivers are doing, and follow the road signs and lane markers.

You are in a car. If you were driving down the road, you probably would not stop suddenly, open your door, and step outside to wave down your child or chat with another parent. Likewise, you probably would not weave in and out of different lanes (we hope!). And you certainly would not be speeding, right? The rules of the road apply to the dropoff/pickup lane, too.

Put down the phone. It makes sense just for safety’s sake—this is a child-filled environment, after all. And besides, getting into an involved conversation is not conducive to paying attention to the road, when it’s your turn to move, and whether your child is standing a few yards away from your car, wondering what’s taking so long.

Minimize other distractions.
That novel you can’t put down, the magazine you just got in the mail, the new CD you sing along with at top volume when your children aren’t looking—all of these absorbing things can lead to you holding up the line.

Stay awake. This might sound strange, but we’ve heard of drivers falling asleep in the line!

Be patient. Someone in front too poky? This is not the ideal place to honk. If you find yourself irritated with the behavior of another driver, remember that it might be a grandparent or another substitute driver who may not be familiar with the rules. However, if you see a “repeat offender” behaving poorly, take your concern to a schoolteacher or administrator (and try to stay positive as you describe the incident).

Take some deep breaths.
Maybe you’ve had a rotten day; maybe you’re stressed out. But you can turn things around starting now, when you welcome your child to the car with a smile.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wearing white after Labor Day: what do you say?

Hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend!

One of the big etiquette traditions ingrained in our minds is the decree not to wear white after Labor Day. A quick look at the Fall 2010 runway styles (we did some Googling!) proves that fashion doesn’t follow this rule anymore, and most news articles on wearing white after Labor Day usually contain the phrase, “A rule that’s meant to be broken…”

We train etiquette experts from all over the world, so some of our blog readers might find this rule puzzling, since it seems to be unique to the U.S. Perhaps avoiding the color white in cold months has a practical reason—after all, it reflects, not absorbs, heat.

Another reason has to do with the U.S. nouveau riche culture in the 1950s. What had been an unofficial, seasonal wardrobe change became code for the elite and social climbers: wearing white after Labor Day meant you didn’t know the “rules.”

But, as Time Magazine said when exploring the white-after-Labor-Day issue, “more people than ever are breaking the rule.”

Why would people be breaking this rule? Well, beyond fashion trends, let’s be practical. Here in our hometown of Athens, Georgia, this week’s temperatures are still in the 90s, and it often remains quite warm even by the first day of Fall, which is Sept. 23. Depending on where you live, white might be the most comfortable option for you.

A happy medium is exploring softer shades of white, and in small doses (like accessories). White comes in a variety of hues, from beige to ivory, eggshell to seashell, magnolia to vanilla. Did you know that astronomers came up with the name “Cosmic Latte” to describe the color of the universe? (It's true.) Anyway, there’s a lot of different kinds of white out there, and no one should give you a hard time about wearing them before the first crocus blooms.

Which brings us to our next point: if you see a friend wearing white from head-to-toe well into the winter months, what should you do? Our advice is to say nothing at all. Etiquette exists for many reasons, and one of them is to make life feel a little bit kinder. Instead of reacting to an outfit that might be in the “wrong” color, smile and be happy to be in your friend’s company.

If we see you wearing white after Labor Day, we won’t say a word.

Debra, Cindy, and April are not breaking the rule - this photo was taken before Labor Day!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Introducing the Ladies of Etiquette

Hello! Welcome to our first blog post! For the generation born in the flower-power era (that would be us), jumping into something new sounds daring and fun. This is where we’ll post about our daily work as children’s etiquette consultants and trainers of children’s etiquette consultants. Visit us often for our take on the latest etiquette news and tips, plus a glimpse into what it’s like to teach manners and social dance to over 700 of Northeast Georgia’s finest young men and women (a.k.a. tomorrow’s global leaders!).

First, we must start off with “THANK YOU!” to all who supported us in the infancy of our business in the 1980s. Those parents who lent us their children were and are our friends. Thank you for the confidence you had in us and the strength of believing in the social arts of manners and leadership skills.

Thank you to the young people we have worked with and will continue to work with over the years. Young people are smart, funny, aggravating, handsome, athletic, immature, mature, and worth every moment we get to spend with them.

Thank you to a country, state, and city where we can work in the field we love! Who ever thought that “three ladies in a van” would turn into the “etiquette elves!” (More on that in another blog post, we promise!)

Thank you to the citizen diplomats—those everyday people who brighten our lives with their good manners.

So, here we are. We have jumped into blogging for Perfectly Polished. And we can’t wait to hear from you! Send your questions or ideas to e-mail address (or leave a comment). And be sure to find us on Facebook (link) and Twitter (link).