Etiquette in today’s society has become an outdated concept. The image of finishing schools and creating ‘little ladies’ would drive many feminists wild, as would the notion of an elitist class having to act by its own self-imposed social conducts. But the idea behind etiquette is not to conform or contrive social practices but to recognise conventions and to introduce an acceptable behaviour which respects others. Etiquette is so much more than how to use a salad fork, and as one new company are showing us, can be a great way to help build confidence and reduce social anxiety.
As a reflection of modern conventions it makes sense that etiquette will have evolved greatly through the years. You would no longer wish for a man to wait on a women hand and foot, but opening a door every once in a while for her wouldn't go astray. The common handshake used to be instigated by a woman outstretching her hand, whereas now it is considered the most confident party’s role to offer the olive branch of a handshake. With such fast-paced change in social interaction it is down to Claire Graves, the women behind The Rock School of Etiquette, to install a sense of decorum in us all once more through her practical delivery of modern day etiquette.
Claire explains: “There is definitely been a renewed interest in etiquette thanks to Megan Markle’s introduction to royal society and a continued love of the royal family. But we wont be teaching royal etiquette here, its a much more practical course on how to manoeuvre through day to day life.”
From encountering courses on etiquette in London and America, Claire decided to create her own version of the venture in Jersey with the help of local teacher Amy Gunner, who delivers the informative courses. Currently the company is hosting classes to youngsters aged 4-7 at the Atlantic Hotel through fun tea parties, but there is the potential to expand the syllabus to include adult classes and corporate business etiquette. “For the children we have focused on social etiquette, how to make friends and introduce yourself and others. By installing a set of rules of what is socially acceptable it helps children to build confidence and not be scared to meet new people.”
Of course there is an element of learning discipline and self-control, something which as a mother of two young children, Claire is all too familiar with. “I’m often in social environments where I am telling my children off for their behaviour and it occurred to me that I’ve never taken the time to show them what the proper or acceptable way to act is.” The pair will certainly have their work cut out for them, with the capacity to take on classes of up to 40 children.
Their first mini-etiquette tea party was well attended, a mixture of well-dressed boys and girls excited by the prospect of getting to act ‘adult’ if only for a few hours. “Hopefully they can be open to learning in a safe and fun environment, picking up skills that will give them an edge over a lot of other people.”
Is etiquette truly dead? Hopefully not, although the notion is that it is becoming a dying art. The Rock School of Etiquette are hoping that by modernising the programme, they can encourage more people to join in with their courses, not matter what age. After all, it’s never too late to learn good manners.
Find out more about the Rock School of Etiquette and Mini Etiquette courses here.