Need to brush up on your skills? Or, in the case of many Americans (myself included!) learn proper manners in the first place? Beaumont Etiquette is the perfect New York-based company to assist. It specializes in British, European and American society etiquette, including proper dining, gracious entertaining, posture, society manners and social deportment.
I recently sat down with Beaumont Etiquette’s founder, Myka Meier, for a small-group etiquette class.
Contrary to what you may picture when you think of a manners instructor, Myka was warm and friendly, and exuded confidence and calm as she demonstrated the techniques. The class was a lot of fun (especially for me- I love things like this!) and was not at all stuffy or pretentious. Which, as Myka informed us, is the purpose of proper etiquette: making everyone around you feel comfortable by being thoughtful, gracious and kind.
I took pages of notes throughout the class (more than I’ve ever taken in school I’m sure!) and am happy to share my favorite guidelines:
- Only carry one bag with you. If you have a lot of items to bring, one large bag looks much more polished than balancing several bags on your arms and shoulders.
- Whenever you’re nervous or in doubt, slow down every movement. You will automatically look more poised and confident.
- When air kissing, you should always start right cheek to right cheek (otherwise, you may do more than air kiss!).
- Always get a drink first when attending networking events. Holding a drink in your hand makes you look more social and approachable than someone without, even if your drink is water.
- If you are approaching someone that you don’t know, it’s always easiest to start with a compliment. However, never ask where an item is from.
- When sitting down, you should keep both feet on the ground with your knees and ankles touching. If you want to cross your legs, you may only do so at the ankles, still ensuring that both feet remain on the ground.
- Never point, even when giving directions. Only gesture.
Proper dining manners are an essential component of etiquette. Here are a few things to remember:
- When serving water, ensure that only 3-4 ice cubes are placed into the glass.
- When drinking tea, hold the saucer in your hand. When drinking coffee, however, the saucer stays on the table.
- If you’re wearing lipstick, you should sip from the same location on the glass so that the rim doesn’t end up covered in color.
- Once you pick up a utensil from the table, it is never set back down on the table, only on your plate.
- Soup should be scooped away from you.
- Hold all glasses by the stem.
- And most importantly for Americans, never switch hands with your fork! It should remain in your left hand, always.
I could literally go on forever, and this was only from one class! Just imagine how elegant you will be after an entire course!
You can find out more information on Beaumont Etiquette, as well as book classes, here.
And then afterwards, you’ll be able to attend fabulous New York City events with the grace of Kate Middleton. Or is that just my dream?