Our Town: Say hello to modern day Miss Manners

Dr Tom Ferraro

We all know that etiquette has been in the decline for a long time. 

To be treated with any level of respect you either have to go a five-star hotel like the Four Seasons or join a country club. 

This is a ridiculous state of affairs don’t you think?  Our environment is now filled with people yelling into cells phones, male and female teens cursing in public and dress codes that no longer exist.  

I call all this our new world of social ugliness. 

So to find out what can be done about all this I hunted down an expert in etiquette. Unfortunately there was no such expert in Williston Park but there was someone in Manhattan that I found. 

Her name is Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick and she is the founder of the Etiquette School of New York on the Upper East Side.  

Patricia was originally in the corporate world where she worked for Estee Lauder and Bergdorf Goodman and she came to realize that many employees and in addition many children needed to learn about how to behave in a socially acceptable way.  

She explained that we no longer live in the era of Emily Post who taught manners to America for 50 years.  

Emily Post was born into wealth, married well and resided in Manhattan and Tuxedo Park. She also attended finishing school and had good manners bred into her.  

Well as Patricia embarked upon the same career path  she entered the American School of Protocol and the Protocol School of Washington. 

Patricia told me that etiquette is defined as the rules of living together that makes our interactions pleasant. She said that good manners reflect upon our character, our family, our town and our company.  

Good manners is a highly desirable trait to all employers and that Harvard and Stamford University research shows  that new hires and new promotions are largely based upon soft skills like good manners rather than technical skills. 

She told me that the most egregious social act nowadays is the constant use of cell phones in public. 

She said that manners have declined because both parents now work and thus no one is home teaching manners through role modeling or verbal instruction.  

She also said that manners were once taught in high school and college but that now there is an exclusive focus on science and academics which does leave any time for the teaching of social graces. 

Her school offers seminars for businesses and for teens and that recently she has been receiving calls from single professional women who realize that to find a husband they will have to relearn some feminine social grace and to undo the years of corporate aggressiveness that have been taught to them.  She even teaches business people how to engage in small talk and pleasant banter in order to ease into business meetings more gracefully.  

She teaches people how to dress, how to walk and even uses the famous book on the head drill to walk in an erect way.

I asked for a quick tutorial on how to greet someone. She told me that one ought to face the person directly, offer a firm but not too firm hand shake with two pumps and make good eye contact.  

And the voice ought to have a smile in it which reflects warmth and kindness. Not bad advice for sure. 

The world we now live in is fast and furious and filled with vulgarity, rudeness and a lack of respect or decency.  And a necessary antidote to this is to find a place where one can learn things like manners, etiquette, charm and kindness. 

So if you want to learn more about this school or Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick, our modern day Emily Post, go to etiquette-ny.com.

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