Art of Etiquette

Art of Etiquette

The Art of Etiquette

During her youth etiquette classes, Carey Sue Vega turns to George Washington’s “Rules of Civility” as a guide. Like many etiquette traditions, Washington’s list of 110 rules remain surprisingly relevant. Rule 18, for example, mandates: Read no letters, books, or papers in company, but when there is a necessity for the doing of it, you must ask to leave.

Vega, who teaches children and adults in her Expeditions in Etiquette program, comments to the class, “That’s an old school rule, but is it really old school after all? Does the tenet also apply to the phones and electronic devices we read today?”

Vega offers youth programs in Edmond and Oklahoma City, at the end of which students practice their newly learned skills at a formal ball. She also has two young adult programs: College 101, for high school seniors, and Adulting 101, for graduating college students. Her adult programs include specialized programs for athletes and executives, in addition to general etiquette training. She also offers several online courses and webinars that allow students to fit training around their busy schedules and make it easier for parents to help their children learn basic etiquette rules.

“If you don’t talk about what’s expected, then when the kids are put in a situation at a restaurant or at Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving, it’s not fair to them because they don’t know what the expectations are,” Vega said.

Vega began teaching etiquette after a decade of working on cruise ships as a youth coordinator and cruise director. When she returned to land, she realized that she could use this experience to build a new career that would allow her to improve people’s lives.

“It all just clicked, as far as realizing that these skills are important, and that I can empower people with tools to help them feel more comfortable in a social setting,” Vega said.

While on cruise ships, Vega frequently interacted with people who didn’t know what was expected of them in unfamiliar situations such as formal dinners. Also during this time, she worked with a formally trained English butler who was able to explain the “why” behind many etiquette conventions. She realized that etiquette wasn’t stuffy or old-fashioned and that it wasn’t an arbitrary set of rules to follow, but something that could help people feel more confident and at ease in social situations.

“When you know the rules and you know what’s expected of you, you’re more comfortable and you put other people at ease,” Vega said.

Back on land, Vega launched her youth etiquette training program, but soon branched out into adult etiquette after her students’ parents expressed interest for themselves and for their workplaces. Her corporate programs focus on everything from customer service to professional dress.“Professionalism equals profitability, not only for yourself but for your company,” Vega said. “But being professional doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and you can’t have personality.”

She also addresses generational differences, such as the disappearing tradition of sending handwritten thank-you notes..

“One of the young guys in the group said ‘I’m not going to waste my time on this, it doesn’t do anything for me,” Vega said. “I said that’s the problem; it’s not about you, it’s about the person who receives it, because it does something for them.”

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