Etiquette 101: Class and College Can Go Together

The LEAP Center Ambassadors jumped at the opportunity to enhance their professionalism by attending an Etiquette Dinner presented by SHSU Career Services and taught by national etiquette expert, Diane Gottsman. She is the author and owner of the Protocol School of Texas, a company that specializes in executive and business etiquette training. Ms. Gottsman is also the resident etiquette expert for talk shows like, San Antonio Living and Good Day Austin, so we all knew that we were in good hands.

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That evening Ms. Gottsman’s main focus was teaching us how to behave at a dinner interview, as these types of interviews are becoming more popular. We learned that Employers want to be able to see how you behave and handle awkward situations and how you treat your wait staff. By the end of the training we were experts in both!

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Before beginning the training, Ms. Gottsman emphasized the importance of asking questions and definitely made sure we asked plenty of questions. She reminded us that etiquette is not about criticizing because the minute you criticize others you lose your power. Ms. Gottsman pointed out that “Smart people ask questions” and this gave us confidence when raising our hands to ask all kinds of questions.

We started with the basics, the “b and d” rule. This is an easy way to remember that your bread plate goes on the left and your drink goes on the right. This should help us stay away from any awkward situations such as drinking out of another person’s glass, but just in case we also learned how to deal with these situations if they arise. Along with this, we learned many more rules such as how to use utensils appropriately, how to pass the bread, how to enter and exit your chair, how to excuse yourself if needed, and how to follow your host or be the host.

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We didn’t only learn about the American and European style of dining, but we also learned about how to prepare for interviews ahead of time and about the best color clothing to wear to interviews. For example, white or blue color shirts would be preferable over dark colored shirts. According to Ms. Gottsman, light colors gives you more power than darker colors would.

Starting the dinner we were all (even those who had attended the etiquette dinner last year) timid in our every movements, not wanting to mess up, but by the end of the night we were all eating confidently and correctly. We were very fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from an expert like Ms. Gottsman who made us feel comfortable when asking questions and provided a great learning environment for us.

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Thank you to SHSU Career Services for providing us with this great opportunity.

Author: mikeyawn

Mike Yawn teaches at Sam Houston State University. In the past few years, he has taught courses on Politics & Film, Public Policy, the Presidency, Media & Politics, Congress, Statistics, Research & Writing, Field Research, and Public Opinion. He has published academic papers in the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, Social Security Quarterly, Film & History, American Politics Review, and contributed a chapter to the textbook Politics and Film. He also contributes columns, news analysis, and news stories to news stories, having contributed more than 50 pieces in the past year. Yawn is also active in his local community, serving on the board of directors of the local YMCA and Friends of the Wynne. Previously, he served on the Huntsville's Promise and Stan Musial World Series Boards of Directors. In 2007-2008, Yawn was one of eight scholars across the nation named as a Carnegie Civic Engagement Scholar by the Carnegie Foundation.

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