Etiquette Training at Universities–Beyond the Fork

Etiquette training beyond the fork

No matter how you bend it, a fork is JUST A FORK.

It’s an understatement to say that the U.S. needs a civility tune-up.

Fortunately, universities and student groups are recognizing this. Administrators, faculty, and student leaders are calling me with close-to-urgent cries for etiquette training in SOMETHING.  *Etiquette dinners* are the SOMETHING that most seem able to articulate. After chatting with callers a bit, however, I usually gather that achieving perfect western dining etiquette is only a small part of their desired etiquette training outcomes.

What most people are actually looking for in etiquette training is something a bit more profound. Therefore, understanding and digging deep into concepts like empathy, deference, cultural awareness, and civil communication builds the foundation of my most popular workshop. This workshop, Being Socially Civil in a Global Society (SCGS), encourages participants to open their eyes, look around, and truly comprehend how their behavior is affecting those around them–be it their fellow students, parents, professors, employers, or those they are interacting with virtually around the world.

Until we take this time to study what is often taken for granted–the ability to empathize, to understand the boundaries of hierarchy (RHIP for you military folk), and to understand that one’s own personal microcosm is NOT necessarily the world standard–our national state of civility will continue to sputter, and etiquette training will (IMHO) be useless. During the SCGS workshop, it is only after we have focused on these fundamentals of civility that we move into protocol. And while we discuss how to make a proper introduction, how to accept a business card, and yes, the proper way to eat fries in the U.S. (sorry,this does occasionally require a fork), we never stray from the empathetic intention and global awareness with which we started. We discuss the pitfalls of minding one’s manners too closely and the fact that we dining utensil-users are the minority in our world.  In other words, we will focus on the substance of civility while learning the ever-changing form of etiquette.  Please contact me if you’d like Being Social in a Global Society to come to your school.



Robyn Jackson

Author Robyn Jackson

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