Written by Betsy Abraham, firstname.lastname@example.org Saturday, 12 October 2013 00:00
When Linda Williams was in high school, she was probably the only one who said please and thank you, and could differentiate between a salad fork and dinner fork. Her mom emphasized manners, and though at the time Williams wasn’t very happy about it, in retrospect, she’s glad her mom instilled in her a sense of propriety.
“I feel like it’s very important to know the rules of etiquette because it makes you more confident as a person that you’re doing the right thing,” Williams said. “It gives you a greater sense of confidence in how you’re interacting with other people.”
Nowadays, the Westbury resident spends her time going to different schools, colleges, churches and companies teaching proper etiquette-something which is often overlooked in today’s society. This year, she’ll once again be teaching workshops at Westbury High School.
Williams says the lack of decorum in younger generations is mainly due to a lack of parental presence or involvement. Because parents are not around to teach their kids how to dress appropriately, or to respect their elders, or proper table manners, etiquette is often overlooked.
“I grew up in a generation where parents were a lot more concerned about children’s behavior,” the 60 year old said. “(Now), etiquette sometimes goes by the wayside, but it was very important in my household and the community I grew up in.”
Williams started teaching etiquette around 1999, when her high school age son observed that his peers’ table manners were bad. He suggested she teach a class, so she conducted a workshop at Westbury High School. The students were receptive and Williams left with a new love for teaching etiquette.
She received certification from the Protocol School of Washington as a certified children’s etiquette consultant, and later as a corporate etiquette consultant and trainer. Soon, she was doing workshops all over Long Island and upstate, teaching people of all ages propriety and dining manners. In 2009, she put her tips down on paper, writing a book on church etiquette titled, Church Etiquette, A Handbook for Manners and Appropriate Behavior in Church.
While many may associate “etiquette” with images of curtsying and sipping soup without slurping, Williams says that the basic etiquette she teaches is a lot more than that.
“It’s everyday good manners and treating people the way you would like to be treated,” Williams says. “People often act on selfish motives instead of thinking about how they’ll affect another, person. And that’s what etiquette's about, not doing anything that would offend or upset someone else. It’s not about you, it’s about how you are towards others.”
Williams teaches several etiquette programs. For children ages seven to 18, her workshops focus on basic manners and appropriate behavior, such as how to speak to people, shake hands properly, respect for themselves and others, and how to dress. When she speaks at college campuses, her classes are mostly about business etiquette. She also teaches table manners, such as how to sit, when to begin eating, and which piece of flatware to use.
And while writing a handwritten thank you note or looking someone in the eye while talking to them may seem like small, unimportant gestures, Williams says that showing kindness and respect can go a long way.
“You’re going to make an impression no matter what you do. Do you want it to be a good impression or bad impression?” Williams asks. “I think that if we could just take the time to be a little more sensitive to the feelings of others, it would go a long way in making this world a better one.”
To find out more about Williams’ workshops, visit etiquettelifeskills.com or call 516-510-7971.