Tag Archives: etiquette classes

All Dressed Up and No Place to Go Go in the Spotlight!

by Deborah Joy Block, Director of Back to Basics Social Graces for Youth Program

Have you heard of the fable about the Emperor with no clothes? He travels through his kingdom making proclamations but his omission obscures his message. Unaware of his nakedness and with nobody daring to inform him, his nonverbal communication speaks volumes. Watching the Homecoming King and Queen,  a newly married couple or the First Couple at the Inauguration resort to the “bear hug sway” for their First Dance debut is equally awkward. These couples are royalty for the day and the dance floor spotlight is the most visibly dynamic kick off to the gala which officially invites all the other attendees to join the festivities on the dance floor.  In this comparison, both the Emperor and the couples being spotlighted have missed the opportunity to put their best foot forward.

Stepping through the dance studio door and admitting you need lessons to be able to dance as a partnership with someone else  doesn’t occur to most teens and is often the hardest part for people- especially males.  For those who initially express opposition to lessons, I ask them what their alternative plan is and they respond “the high school prom sway.”  I suggested that before settling on a decision they should videotape themselves and see if they can last the full length (a typical song is 3:45) without feeling bored or awkward then watch the full length dance on video from their guest’s perspective too.

According to proper etiquette, The First Dance is a formal obligation of honored guests to open up the dance floor for the rest of the guests to feel welcome and comfortable to dance and set the tone for the festivities. It is also the epitome of the Cinderella/Prince Charming moment at their ball. Unfortunately, many don’t realize that the awkward high school prom sway for 4 minutes in front of 200 people is not a desirable alternative to skipping dance lessons. Cutting the “bear hug sway” down to 90 seconds isn’t fooling anyone either. It just says that you are all dressed up with no place to go. There are countless reasons a person can conjure up to talk him/herself out of dance lessons but for every reason not to there are double the reason to go for it!

The dance lessons are a vulnerable space where couples learn about themselves and their partnership and where they learn appropriate boundaries or respectful physical contact unlike twerking, bump and grind or freaking which are not only degrading but will get teens kicked out of the prom by chaperones. The couples also feel pressurized because they are often juggling major undertakings such as part time jobs, full time school, hobbies, sports, and a social life. But dance lessons actually benefit and bleed into all of the above areas in useful ways that can be incorporated as a life skill for future occassions besides the prom. Can you imagine a speech with no microphone for all of the audience to be able hear? Unthinkable. Dance moves give voice to the First Dance as confident student leaders in the community demonstrating their maturity through cooperation and teamwork and setting the bar for healthy interpersonal relationships between males and females. With a little preparation, prom night has the potential to be the most magical, fairytale moment for everyone!

Deborah Joy Block is the Founder and Director of Back to Basics Social Graces Youth Program.   Block’s company has taught over 10,000 students of all ages. Block is most known for being the premier national expert on wedding dance preparation and founded the nation’s first wedding dance company called The Wedding Dance Specialists which has attracted celebrity couples and national media attention. Mrs. Block is available for guest blogging, interviews and to teach social skills, social graces and life skills programs on or off site. http://www.BackToBasicsManners.com

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First Impressions Matter!

by Kimberly Irwin, Publicist for Back to Basics Social Graces

When you watch a movie or read a book which are the parts you remember the most distinctly? The beginning and the end ofcourse! That’s why first impressions are crucial when forming new relationships and leave a lasting impression. Whether you are meeting a new potential employer, new friend or love interest, the principles remain the same. Here are some general guidelines to helping you achieve the best possible first impression every time. Here are some key tips to make a great first impression!

1. Be confident: confidence is always key. If you’re not proud of who you are, why would anyone want to be around you?

2. Be a good listener: avoid dominating too much of the conversation. Allow other people to speak and ask for their opinions. Others will appreciate that you took the time to listen to what they have to say.

3. Make eye contact: eye contact shows that you’re engaged in the conversation and are an active participant in it.

4. Dress well:  grooming. If you look nice, people will generally have a more positive impression of you. Meet with a stylist to create the perfect “look” that represents your signature style!

5. Be honest: People can tell when you are being sincere and genuine.

6. Be respectful: Always be respectful. There is nothing more off putting than a rude person.

7. Use the other person’s name: People love to hear their own names. It makes others feel special and valued.

8. Be humble: Humility is a highly admired quality in a person. Avoid bragging about yourself or constantly trying to be the center of attention.

9. Be at eye level with the person you are speaking to. If they are standing, you should stand and vice versa.

10. Always rise when being introduced to someone new especially someone older or higher rank.

11. Hygiene: make sure your nails, hair, hands, face, ears and teeth are clean and presentable and your clothes are fresh and laundered. Deodorant is a MUST.

12. Open up a conversation with a compliment: not only is it the perfect icebreaker but making someone feel good with a compliment is one of the kindest gestures and can make someone’s entire day! Often, people feel ignored or anonymous and you have the power to make them feel special and noticed!

13. Offer to help someone: another great ice breaker and a foot into the door of someone’s heart is to take the time to volunteer your assistance or loan someone something that they need. This is especially shocking as a stranger will be tremendously grateful and pleasantly surprised that you were so generous and helpful. The gesture says a lot about you and it also inspires others to pay it forward and be kind to others.

14. Listen: sometimes just lending a caring ear and empathizing with someone is just what the doctor ordered. Sometimes your calm presence and focused attention can even be powerful enough to save a life.

15. Make something home made instead of store bought or host someone in your home instead of meeting at a restaurant: time is money and this gesture demonstrates that the person’s company is valuable enough to you to invest the time. Priceless!

16. Table manners: if you are making your dining companion nauseous by licking your fingers, picking up crumbs and eating them, chewing with your mouth open, talking with your mouth full, slurping your drink, hitting your utensils against your teeth, leaning on the table or holding your drink with both hands they will not be able to even look at you let alone connect with you.

Keep these tips in mind to get started off on the right foot in personal and professional interactions.  And remember, you only have one chance to make a great first impression!

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