Mind your Manners: Changing the stigma of 'etiquette'

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I often hear disparaging comments about the word etiquette.

For example, "etiquette is only for stuck up people, etiquette is old fashioned, etiquette does not belong in schools," or more discouraging, "etiquette is class-based." Even a friend recently suggested I change the name of my school, eliminating or replacing the word etiquette. It wasn't the first time the suggestion came my way. As I kick off my third anniversary, I thoughtfully considered whether changing the name of my business would be beneficial. It didn't take long to realize I was caving to appease the naysayers, rather than stand tall and proud! I stopped myself in my tracks. Since when did the interpretation of this word become so misunderstood?

My goal is to renew and reclaim the power of etiquette and what it really means in our daily lives, right here, right now. Call it the "Change the Stigma Campaign!'

So what does the word etiquette really mean? Consider the word for what it truly is:

- Making others feel comfortable.

- Demonstrating caring courtesy.

- Producing calm rather than chaos.

- Lending a helping hand.

- Obtaining the tools to feel comfortable in awkward situations.

- Putting others first.

- Offering words and actions that are positive.

- Random acts of kindness

- Rules that allow for a more respectful personal and professional relationships.

"The core of etiquette is courtesy. Being considerate of others. It really is that simple," according to the American School of Protocol. We live in a world that has exponentially become more violent and sad. It is driven by more technology and less face-to-face interaction. Change must occur. I am calling on all of you to help one another, offer random acts of kindness, be respectful even when being disrespected and in turn, help heal the world.

Won't you join me and take a stand and change the stigma? The beautiful thing about etiquette is that it is not divisive. It is not class-based. It is inclusive. Throughout life, we, as children and adults, grow and develop when we encounter opportunities and face challenges in our interactions. Every day, etiquette calls us to act with civility and respect at home, in school and in the workplace. In doing so, not only are personal and professional relationships enhanced, so are our schools and communities.

Join me in changing the stigma.

Diane Massey is director and founder of The Berkshire School of Etiquette & Business Protocol. She trained at the American School of Protocol in Atlanta, Ga. Her sought-after seminars empower individuals with the knowledge and skills of modern day etiquette to take action personally and professionally with confidence and courtesy, in a spirit of cooperation and awareness of others, every day in every way. www.berkshireschoolofetiquette.com.


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