QUESTION: My wife has a very intense job that involves training some very, bright and intelligent young people. The problem is simple. They have no social graces. How does one gently integrate etiquette and teach manners to these folks who are well beyond college age?
CALLIE’S ANSWER: That is very simple. You need to tell your wife to teach these individuals the simple business professional etiquette.
She needs to figure out what she would like to teach and move on from there. Good luck to her!
LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: She could very easily incorporate an etiquette lesson or two into her training. Good etiquette is good for business, and for a young employee, good manners are a way to stand out as his or her career progresses.
Many businesses pay experts to come in and offer a workshop or a class or two for their employees on this subject. Your wife could either teach this herself as a standard part of training, or she could identify the issues the employees need to learn and hire an outsider.
She won’t have to single out any particular people if the entire group gets the training, and everyone needs a refresher course from time to time.
HELEN’S ANSWER: Your wife might add an etiquette lesson as part of their training. Etiquette classes for adults help them in the workplace. It helps them make a good impression and gives them the self -confidence to meet the public. Sometimes the classes can help to brush up on social skills that have been forgotten.
Your wife can really make a difference for these adults. She can assist the young adults with their professional images, and she should make sure to go over the basic manners that might be important, such as silverware placement and use at the table, how to eat various foods, conversation etiquette, personal appearance, and business and social introductions.
She can stress the value of RSVPs, thank-you notes and how important it is to respect others. She might politely call it a “refresher course” for manners, so she does not give the impression to class members that they don’t know how to act.
GUEST’S ANSWER: Devonne Carter, licensed clinical social worker who has taught etiquette classes at Oklahoma Christian University: If she is the trainer, she can incorporate manners into the lessons as part of the curriculum, or even as “fun facts” on a typed sheet or as an opening trivia quiz. Good manners allow us to communicate with others who are different than ourselves.
It allows us to be in the same level and to connect. I can think of several reasons a young business person would want to connect with people of a different age or culture — those they are serving in the business or selling to, or their managers. They will benefit personally from these connections.
Callie Gordon is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email firstname.lastname@example.org.