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November 14, 2007 > Master your universe

Master your universe

Listed as a top fear by many is the inability to speak to a large gathering, whether friends or strangers. Allied with this phobia are uncertainties of social interactions that present a plethora of bewildering dilemmas. Knowledge of what to do and how to address each situation can not only lessen anxiety, but provide confidence and mastery of the moment. How to introduce yourself, carry on a conversation and deal with all those knives, forks and spoons at a formal dinner can not only be daunting, but lead to humiliating and disastrous consequences if bungled.

Adults can often rely on prior experience to soften the blows of societal convention; such knowledge can help avoid potentially uncomfortable situations. Inappropriate behavior in one setting may be deemed not only okay, but desirable, in others. Confusion may reign without guidelines and offense taken where none is given.

Social skills are essential for all of us, even children and young adults, who often have little experience to guide their behavior. How does anyone find the right answers to the myriad of questions surrounding use of acceptable and appropriate actions? Correct behavior for a given situation, known as "etiquette," is, unfortunately, often taught by role models who also may have questions and inexperience when dealing with proper manners. Children without training may be forced by parents or peer pressure into situations that require etiquette. The result can be discomfort, leading to far-reaching consequences including avoidance and combative denial when faced with similar situations. This is not surprising. Without guidance to master future social challenges, many opportunities for personal achievement may be lost.

Beside the embarrassment of floundering in a social environment, the potential for harm is increased when attempting to communicate in business situations as well. Poise and confidence are markers of self-esteem that translate into personal and business success. Whether an individual is a host or guest, knowing correct dress and table manners while displaying conversational ease can set an individual apart. Protocol is so important to government and business - national and international - that schools and formal training have been created to teach proper etiquette for high level interactions. Lack of information can be disastrous when the wrong actions are chosen in delicate situations. Even famous personalities such as poet and playwright Oscar Wilde knew about the consequences of poor etiquette when he quipped, "The world was my oyster, but I used the wrong fork."

Fortunately, there is help on the local scene for the socially floundering. Providing an etiquette key to personal success and recognition of the correct "fork" is a lively, classy and knowledgeable woman with a mission to transfer social skills to all she meets. Syndi Seid is a graduate of The Protocol School of Washington, D.C. and holds the highest certification available as a Certified International Protocol Office, Corporate Trainer and Consultant. She can often be found giving seminars and "Executive Coaching" to senior executives, but on a recent Saturday afternoon, Ms. Seid spent time with local youth to demonstrate basic etiquette: where to place a name tag, how to introduce yourself and proper sitting and standing techniques were some topics of discussion. The results were immediately evident as vital information and techniques were absorbed and practiced. Some participants noted that they are asked to attend adult gatherings with parents, but have little idea of how to behave and interact. Another seminar is scheduled Friday, November 30 for 9 - 13 year old between 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. through the Fremont Parks and Recreation Department. Although winter sessions are extremely popular due to impending holidays, good manners and "savoir faire" are never out of style.

If you want to know more about corporate seminars, workshops and group presentations, contact Syndi Seid at (415) 346-3665 or (800) 276-7419. You may also want to visit her at

Additional information about Fremont Parks and Recreation programs can be found at or by calling (510) 494-4300.

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