Pine River-Backus juniors and seniors attended a presentation by professional etiquette consultant Bethany Miller last week.
Miller said her presentation was designed with the purpose of helping students to become silent leaders at school and outside of school.
“Think of the skills we are going to be talking about and practicing as they are going to equip you and make you more amazing and stand out as students and leaders,” Miller said.
She compared etiquette to a ticket that would give students access to an increased number of opportunities in the future. She compared a world without manners to a busy city street during rush hour, without traffic signals or other guidance.
Miller began her lesson with first impressions, introductions and hand shaking. She introduced students to poor hand shaking techniques like the fish, the lobster, the politician, the wrestler and the pointer. She then taught students how to give firm hand shakes but without inflicting pain.
“It’s the clasp, not the shake,” Miller said. “I want a firm handshake, but don’t hurt me.”
Miller told students they never know who they might be speaking to and warned them to avoid poor behavior at all times in case they offend a potential future boss, teacher or some other important person.
“Try being polite, no matter what the circumstances,” Miller said.
Miller also told students that they are seen as representatives of their place of employment, their school, their sports team and other social groups. As a result, they should not be rude toward others.
“Who are you representing? If I am working for a company, I am representing that company. If I am representing that company, I want to have a really good representation,” Miller said.
Miller advised students against being shy and compared shyness to selfishness.
“Nothing is gained by being shy. It is only a loss,” Miller said.
To help them overcome awkward conversation when first meeting someone, she told students to have 10 questions ready for any occasion. The right kinds of questions not only help keep a conversation flowing, they also help you to get to know potentially shy people and to get them to feel at ease around you.
“I want to come into a room and put everyone at ease. I want to go into a room and find the shy ones, because obviously they need to be brought out. You should have it be your rule that you should try to get to know every person in school,” Miller said.
Miller challenged the students to go out and get to know three shy students in the school. She concluded the presentation by giving students blank thank you cards and challenged them to write a meaningful thank you to a teacher or a parent.
Topics Miller covered included rules of introductions, hand shaking, qualities of a leader, cell phone use etiquette and tips for writing thank you letters.
Miller is often hired to train corporate and professional groups in social etiquette to improve business dealings. Her presentation at PR-B was funded by a grant.