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January 2, 2008 > Poise and prowess

Poise and prowess

The table is set and as guests sit down to a formal dining occasion, a bewildering array of plates, utensils and accoutrements await. Those who anticipate such situations fall back on their training and correctly elicit the proper etiquette. While many scoff at this behavior as reserved for the idle rich and without redemption for common folk, this is not so. It is often necessary in social gatherings to understand, respect and maintain proper decorum. Without this knowledge, offense may be given where none is intended and uncomfortable situations can develop. High level negotiations often rely, in part, on understanding the proper etiquette for the situation.

As an example, if someone has tickets to a ballpark to watch the Giants or A's and invites a friend to come along, most people would expect this to be an informal outing and dress appropriately. The guest would probably also know that crowds can be lively and to expect vendors with hot dogs and peanuts. Visits to a ballpark typically do not call for a tuxedo and expectation of escargot and fine cuisine. If a guest, however, did not understand the proper etiquette and dressed inappropriately, this could be an embarrassing situation for both host and guest. The same analogy applies to occasions where formal dress and etiquette are required to assure clear communication and respect for a host.

In national and international diplomatic circles, experts are employed to teach manners and social graces. However, for many, lessons are often left to observation of peers and role models. Unfortunately, many who need to learn such lessons remain ignorant and vulnerable due to lack of information and training. This can be a recipe for social disaster. The resulting embarrassment, often hidden by bravado and aggressive behavior, precludes social growth and deprives future role models of their ability to pass the information on to others.

Recognizing the need for understanding and practicing social etiquette, three local women decided to take action. Jean Ficklin, Frieda Darlene Green and Sandra Smith invited 13 local high school women, many from South Bay Community Church, to a formal tea. On Saturday, December 15, this Christmas Tea was held at the home of Ms. Smith. Attendees were able to observe preparations, take part in the elegant service and practice table manners in a formal social setting. Although many young people exist in a world of fast food with quick and informal meals, there are times when it is not only desirable, but necessary to slow down a bit and converse with others on more formal occasions. These fortunate young women will now know how to respond appropriately and be at ease when that time comes.

Attendees: Ariel Brown, Sidney Cadiz, Coniah Connelly, Alicia Denson (not shown), Jennifer Greely, Melissa Hughes, Mackelle Martinez, Jessica Rutland, Alexandria Smith, Ayanna Smith, Danielle Walton, Michelle Walton, Moriah Walton.

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