Monday, April 23, 2012

Spring Formal!

We love our Spring Formal.

It’s a wonderful way to end a school year. Our students show their dance moves to an adoring crowd. We give awards to staff members. We get to see Perfectly Polished graduates again as they return to assist as floor leaders. As we watch them help current students find their dance partners and make sure everyone has a fun, safe time, we are so proud.

It's raining men!

A little bit country...

We held our first Spring Formal in a school gym in 1990 with 98 students. This year, we filled UGA’s Stegeman Coliseum with around 3,000 people to watch 600 students dance.

Umbrellas and cotillion dresses

The theme was “A Night of Thrills,” which meant that students danced to songs ranging from Harry Potter music to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” —complete with hilarious costumes and the immediately recognizable choreography from the video. It was a hit! (No one can accuse our dance of being boring.)

Cuz this is thriller, thriller night!

Nights like these remind us of something important: learning manners and social dance is FUN.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Making my way from Georgia to French Quebec

Today’s guest blogger is Maddie Taylor, a former Etiquette & Leadership Institute intern. Her story reminds us of how far manners can take you, especially in a brand-new environment.

Maddie Taylor and her "southern smile" that works wonders (keep reading!)

Breaking Barriers

It is quite humorous to think that I have been living in Quebec for three months. I feel as if I have been a Canadian forever. If someone had told me in May 2011 that I would be moving north of the border (in the dead of winter) I would have thought they were crazy.

My name is Maddie Taylor and after graduating from the University of Georgia last May with a major in public relations from Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications, I took a leap of faith and obtained a Marketing/PR internship in Granby, Quebec, Canada. It was an unexpected position, but I can’t imagine working anywhere else at the moment. I work for Beaulieu Canada as a Public Relations Specialist.

I absolutely love my job and the incredible experiences I have had so far such as organizing various marketing campaigns, writing numerous press releases and corporate newsletters, participating in our National Sales Meeting and filming a commercial. As much as I love my current position with Beaulieu Canada, the move to French Quebec has not always been as easy. Growing up in the United States, I naively thought of Canada as an extension of America, a place people sometimes lived if the USA got too crowded. How wrong I was. Once you cross the border into Vermont, you can instantly see it’s a world apart.

I reside in a small town on the outskirts of Montreal, where everyone speaks French with little to no English. Most of the population of Granby consists of the elderly and retired or young families with small children. Granby is definitely not the hotbed for “young professionals,” and there is certainly not an English-speaking skating group to join. But I have found my way around this tiny French town with a pleasant smile and common courtesies that seem to surprise my neighbors. When I first decided to come here, I quickly mastered the most important French phrases: Hello, how are you? (Bonjour, comment allez-vous?); Thank you (Merci); Please (s'il vous plait); I am sorry, I do not speak French (Je suis désolé, je ne parle pas français).

Never before have I seen simplistic manners and a southern smile work such magic! Yes, living in Quebec is a daily struggle, whether I am driving in an ice storm (we still have them!) or asking directions to the local skating rink. My assimilation into this very unique culture has been made easier, however, due to the respectful manners I learned as a child and to the smile I keep on my face. Cultural awareness, respect and good manners will serve you well and get you far, no matter where you are in the world!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Gym manners

Where we live, early spring already feels like mid-summer. There’s something energizing in the air that makes you want to exercise.

We talked to a lot of people who are intimately acquainted with gyms—both customers and instructors—and gathered a list of tips on how to best behave. In a gym, you’re sharing limited space with a lot of busy people, surrounded by fast-paced activity. To make the experience pleasant for everyone, you really need to consider just a few things: Be clean, be considerate, be aware, and share.

Be clean
• Everyone sweats at the gym. It's inevitable! Just wipe down the equipment.
• A lot of hands and bodies will come in contact with those machines, so pay attention to personal hygiene—and if you’re ill, stay home and rest.

Be considerate
• Stash your personal belongings so they’re out of the way, and keep track of them—don't leave anything behind on a machine.
• Re-rack those weights!
• Dress appropriately, which at the least means making sure you’re covered where it counts.
• Monitor your volume. That means refraining from singing aloud to your iPod, carrying on lengthy and loud phone calls, and, if you’re taking a class, talking over the instructor. (Keep the TVs turned down, too!)

Be aware of your surroundings.
• Respect personal space by not crowding others.
• Keep your iPod volume down low enough to hear overhead speaker announcements or the requests of others wanting to work in or asking you (politely, of course!) to move over.
• Remember that others are focused and working hard, and now is not the time to spontaneously overshare personal information.

• Don’t monopolize the equipment.
• If you aren’t using the machine, don’t use it as a place to rest, text, or talk on your phone.
• If someone is waiting for you to finish your sets, offer to let them work-in (take turns doing sets). And if you’re waiting to use a machine, try not to stare the other person down—it’s acceptable to simply ask, “May I work in?”

None of this is to suggest that you should work out as a horde of silent, self-cleaning robots. The gym is primarily a place to get fit and healthy, but it can also be as a social outlet. There’s nothing wrong with working out with friends, getting chatty, making a date of it—just remember you aren’t the only people in the building. If you really need a cleansing talk with a best friend while working out, consider leaving the gym for a nature hike or neighborhood walk.

Now, go work out!