May 20, 2002 - Lake County Reporter: Poland RPCV Carol Waite teaches etiquette

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Poland RPCV Carol Waite teaches etiquette

Read and comment on this story from the Lake County Reporter on Poland RPCV Carol Waite, who understands the value of proper etiquette and being pleasant and polite in today's somewhat rude world at:

Chenequan politely offers civility tips*

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Chenequan politely offers civility tips

Don Clasen, Staff writer May 20, 2002
A nationwide poll recently revealed that people aren't polite. In fact, too many are downright rude. A Chenequa woman agrees and is doing something about it. She's established what she calls the Polite Co.

Carol Waite, who understands the value of proper etiquette, being pleasant and polite in today's somewhat rude world, founded the service four years ago. Since then she's consulted with business people and others offering what she calls certified professional etiquette and protocol training and services.

"Clients represent business, technology, finance, education and service sectors; social and professional organizations; individuals and families," said her brochure labeled "Etiquette 2002 Protocol."

She says hundreds of clients have attended her sessions.

The widow and mother of five grown children began writing an etiquette column for the Waukesha Freeman newspaper in the 1960s.

She has since served as director of development at University Lake School and gone on to regional and state executive director positions and manufacturing jobs.

She said, "I performed the expected hostess/guest duties required in corporate American and abroad," while accompanying her late husband, David, during his years of travel as president of an association of manufacturers.

The graduate of Waukesha High School and Tennessee's Maryville College traveled around the world after becoming president and CEO of Waukesha Metal Pipe, a family-owned manufacturing business she sold in 1993.

The varied career of the Waukesha native has taken her to the wilds of Africa, the barren North Pole and to post-Communist Poland in 1995 to become a municipal adviser. The assignment involved international travel, which required her to hone up on her etiquette and protocol skills.

After training for the Peace Corps assignment in Lodz ("It was a major ghetto where many people were moved to Auschwitz") she served at Pila in northwest Poland. "When the Iron Curtain went down," she said, "it caused profound hardships. There was 23 percent unemployment.

"It was very challenging, but interesting," she said of her assignment.

When she returned to the Lake Country in 1997 she said, "I retired for two weeks." But while cleaning her basement, she discovered an etiquette column she had authored in the 1960s.

"I experienced old world respect in Poland," she recalled after returning the United States "with its declining civility.

"All through my career, etiquette and protocol had a role. So I decided to purchase a course to keep me up to date and teach the correct protocol."

Waite enrolled in the Protocol School of Washington, D.C., graduating in 1999.

The school is the nation's leading etiquette and protocol training facility. Since 1974 it has served as adviser and liaison to the nation's diplomatic community instructing more than 500 diplomatic attaches annually.

What advice can she offer for us to avoid being labeled rude?

Her answer involves words that are seldom heard today. Words like "respect," "discipline" and "family values."

"We don't respect one another," she stressed. "Now there's road rage and a lot of concern about image.

"We are skilled technologically, but with most parents working in our fast-paced world we don't take time, for example, to demonstrate concern for our children's future."

The woman, who admits she is "pushing 70," grew up in a time BT (before television) when parents dined daily with their entire family.

"We were all in it together," she said, pointing out that mom and dad advised and disciplined their children in that daily session at the dinner table.

"The hearth has changed from the hearth to the TV," Waite said. "(Today) we aren't at the table unless it faces the TV. It makes a difference in family life. ...

"I was brought up in a traditional home that was mannerly and with a strong work ethic. That doesn't happen in a world that is sub-divided."

Nevertheless, she offers a remedy for today's rudeness. "There is a quick fix if people realize respect for others. It's more important than the image of themselves. If we were concerned with the image of the total person, we would be more respectful."

Fortunately, she sees the focus on correctness coming back.

She pointed to the theme song of the 1996 Democratic National Convention. "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" is more than a swinging tune. It's good advice, she feels.

Parents are thinking, Waite continued, "We're preparing our children about tomorrow. It does determine how you behave today."

Perhaps surviving World War II, the Cold War, Vietnam and Sept. 11, has helped her.

"In the 1970s," she said, "it was let it all hang out. If it feels good - do it."

Now, she adds, "The focus on civility is coming back."

Since receiving what could be called her polite degree, Waite has presented polite programs designed to develop social competence. She stresses that manners are leadership skills and demonstrates behaviors that characterize successful relationships while attempting to empower participants with knowledge, grace and confidence.

Her presentations range from an hour or two to a full day of instruction. Presentations are made at the sites of clients, upscale restaurants and private clubs.

The cost is $100 to $300 for each participant based on a contractual arrangement.

Topics include:

*Everyday Etiquette - Includes self-esteem and confidence building, meetings and introductions, handshaking, conversation and listening skills, communications, and manners.

*Dining Skills I - Includes extending and receiving invitations, host/hostess-guest duties, reception manners, being served and serving yourself, managing difficult-to-eat foods, tipping, and thank you notes.

*Dining Skills II - Adds advice on business entertainment, place settings, silverware, the silent service code, body language at the table, accidents, forms of service, American and Continental styles of dining and toasting.

*Dining Skills III - Adds advice on world-class entertaining, Japanese styles of eating and dining decorum.

Each of the dining skills presentations concludes with what Waite calls a tutorial luncheon or dinner.

*Business Etiquette - Includes communications skills, how to make an entrance and work the room, handshaking, introducing yourself and others, forms of address, eye contact, rising to the occasion, remembering names, quality in the arena, and timely tips.

*How to Succeed in the International Arena - Adds pre-meeting strategy, rank and status, forms of address, business cards, business introductions, eye contact, communication styles, cross-cultural requirements, important gestures, effective gift-giving, rehearsal techniques, and presenting an international image.

*Manners Camp - Correct etiquette is presented in a casual setting. Waite says participants learn, practice, imagine and role-play as they acquire confidence and leadership skills. This, too, concludes with a tutorial reception and dinner in an upscale setting.

Waite demonstrated proper etiquette in the seemingly insignificant handing out of a business card, presenting the card so an acquaintance could read it.

The woman, who has dined at formal banquets in Europe attended by footmen and toastmasters, says she had joined her husband to host business conventions and corporate gatherings in virtually every state in the union and abroad.

"I took meals on the ground in remote African villages, sitting around the community bowl, eating with my right hand.

"I worked in a factory on a kibbutz in Israel trimming plastic joints for irrigation systems.

"I flew all over Australia ... and went around the world in 1994 to experience additional countries and cultures.

"I have traveled by snowmobile, horse cart, zodiac and yacht, by private train and plane and corporate jet and car. There is a special etiquette for all that."

Last year she traveled to the North Pole aboard a Russian nuclear icebreaker and more recently visited Fidel Castro's Cuba.

Even in the cold polar environment, politeness pays.

During a recent presentation she defined etiquette as the body of rules that describe correct social behavior and noted that business, corporate and professional entities are seeking higher levels of sophistication, effectiveness and performance.

She says the word etiquette is derived from the French word for ticket - "what one needs for admission to a certain place, and maybe later to prove you belong." It was developed, she says, in the court of Louis the XIV at the Palace of Versailles outside of Paris.

"When Louis first welcomed aristocrats to his elegant country home," she explained, "he was horrified at the behavior of his visitors. They picked up their skirts, kicked up their heels, cut across the lawns, trampled the gardens, splashed in the fountains - well you get the picture.

" 'No! No! No!' said Louis. 'We can't have this! Post A TICKET (e-tiquette) at the gate to direct these aristocratic clods.' "

The ticket grew to include requirements for individuals to be admitted to certain areas or classes and the behavior expected of the assembled.

"I work with individuals and families who for one reason or other missed the usual lessons when growing up and want to become confident in knowledge and practice at last," said Waite.

She concluded her remarks by saying:

"While there is widespread outcry that civility has declined - road rage, the 'F' world, binge drinking, drug abuse, skirts way up, pants way down, bellies bare, porn on the 'Net - there was an event in New York City last year that proved it (civility) isn't dead yet:

"Decency, generosity, sacrifice, heroism.

"Our society may have rough edges here and there, but it has a world-class heart."

©Lake Country Reporter 2002

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