Etiquette Boot Camp Comes to Cape Cod

Define “etiquette”.

Is it holding a door for someone? Is it not wiping your runny nose on your sleeve? Do you know what topics to discuss on a first date or a dinner party?  Do you think good manners are a thing of the past or simply something we save for special occasions? Some might agree that, although not used as often as it once was, proper etiquette should be used in our daily lives and not simply when we dress up.

Etiquette

For example, have you ever seen someone breeze into a nice restaurant to meet a group of friends or co-workers:  they are clearly late, a little disheveled, and then they announce to anyone within earshot they didn’t have time to take a shower, but thank goodness they had that sample bottle of perfume in the car! Or perhaps you know someone who constantly uses their phone like an appendage.

I am convinced social status, income and formal education have very little to do with an individual’s comprehension of etiquette. It’s an art that was once taught at home for family dinners and social gatherings.

Sadly, with less and less time spent around the family dinner table, appropriate decorum may be fading into the past, but it’s not completely gone.

Recently I was at a dinner table during a somewhat fancy charity fundraiser. The gentleman next to me with the tattoos and piercings was served his meal first. The wait staff was working very hard to get salads to everyone as quickly as possible, but had to make a second trip to the kitchen to finish serving the table. I leaned over and told him he didn’t have to wait for me and to go ahead and start.

“Oh, no! My grandfather brought me up right! I will wait.” And he did.

Once my salad was served, he leaned over and quietly said “Of course, my grandfather didn’t teach me which fork to use.” We laughed and I said I was always told to start from the outside and work your way in with silverware. I don’t know if that’s correct, but it has worked for me so far.

So who decides what is considered good etiquette and was is not? Ms. Pejic would be the woman to turn to. Ms. Pejic runs the Etiquette Academy of New England, and she is bringing good manners to Cape Cod with a series of Etiquette Boot Camps across the Cape and Islands from August 15th through September 1st.

I had the opportunity to speak with Ms. Pejic. It was a lovely conversation and we agreed on several points, with one in particular repeating over and over: There is an art to Etiquette, and it was becoming an art lost to convenience and indifference in the United States.

A meal should be treated like an event, not an ends to a means. There should be conversation and you should enjoy the food you are eating and you should enjoy the company you are sharing the meal with.

Ms. Pejic’s classes will cover a variety of topics in a 3-4 hour span which will allow for role playing and enjoyment of multi-course meals at some of the finest dining rooms in the area: The Wequassett Resort and Golf Club in Harwich, The Cape Club in Falmouth, The Double Tree by Hilton in Hyannis, Alberto’s Ristorante in Hyannis and Lambert’s Cove Inn in West Tisbury.

There are classes for different ages: Etiquette Boot Camp for Kids and Teens which will focus on good manners, table manners, conversation skills and cell phone and social media etiquette while Etiquette Boot Camp for Professionals will give a comprehensive lesson in fine dining, small talk and networking.

As I talked with Ms. Pejic, I couldn’t resist asking her for a sample lesson: What is the best way to extract oneself from a conversation about the current Presidential situation? She laughed: That has become the most common question in every class!

She said it is important to acknowledge someone’s passion for any topic. You should listen to what they have to say. Whether you agree or don’t. Validate their opinion as simply as saying “I can see you have very strong feelings about this candidate…” Then she suggested changing the topic to something a little lighter but still relatable: Do you have plans for the weekend? Have you been to a particular event in the past? Do you have pets?  Pick a topic that brings up positive feelings for everyone.

If you are interested in sharpening your etiquette skills, or perhaps you have an event like a wedding or a job interview coming up, you can register for one of Ms. Pejic’s Boot Camps at www.theetiquetteacademy.org

About Cat Wilson

Cat Wilson is "That Girl" on Cape Country 104 – a Cape Cod native and longtime Cape radio personality. She is a passionate supporter of Military and Veteran causes on the Cape and also hosts local music spotlight program, “The Cheap Seats” on Ocean 104.7.

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