Illustration photo. Etiquette is defined by lexico.com as "The customary code of polite behaviour in society or among members of a particular profession or group"
Do we need to learn etiquette to advance professionally and socially? Ukrainian entrepreneur Angela Domasova certainly thinks so.
For some, the word “etiquette” may conjure up finishing school for upper-class young women in the 1950s. But, when entrepreneur Angela Domasova created her contemporary school for etiquette back in her native Ukraine six years ago, she had a very clear idea what she was aiming for--to help put people at ease in social situations.
“I do believe that getting information about how to behave and what to say in different situations makes you more confident,” she tells Delano. “That confidence gives you power and self-esteem”.
The idea emerged from a meeting with the wife of an ambassador at a reception, who had established training in etiquette and urged Domasova to do the same. A mother-of-three who spent most of her career working in HR for multinationals, she also had the sense that the codes of polite society were being lost from hearing the experiences her daughter encountered while studying at an English boarding school.
After successfully establishing classes in Ukraine, Domasova imported the idea to Luxembourg when she moved there for her husband’s job.
According to UK author and critic Henry Hitchings, in the 19th century etiquette centred around establishing good manners to achieve a level of sophistication and help with self-advancement. Victorian etiquette scrupulously set out the rules for appropriate behaviour particularly for women, extending from the size of a woman’s visiting card to the highly frowned upon ankle flashing.
Domasova is more concerned with contemporary etiquette as a way of demystifying the minefield of manners people encounter in professional and social situations and removing the anxiety that prevents them from communicating well.
Angela Domasova, pictured, imported her contemporary school of etiquette to Luxembourg when she moved there for her husband's job. Photo: Angela Domasova
After a well-attended first course in business etiquette, her second course focused on etiquette for women, only here she was surprised. “As it turned out, women are interested in business rules and business etiquette more than social etiquette,” she said.
The research-based courses, while inspired by some of the skills taught at finishing schools such as which knife and fork to use for which course, are developed by Domasova and given by a team of trainers.
Specifically, she wants to master key communication skills, such as body language, handshakes, and all the correct ways to approach activities such as networking and public speaking, among other things. “There was one lady who works mostly with men who was interested in how to behave in male circles and feel confident at the same time […] we had a lot of practice and trained people in things like how to break the ice. Simple things like small talk, it’s an art!” Domasova said.
And etiquette not only applies to business people. The trainer and company founder is now working on adapting her programmes to Luxembourg aimed at families, teenagers, men and intercultural communication. She also plans to host specific themed training in specialisations like wine etiquette and cigars.
Think of it that you’re not making contact, but building relationships. So, build personal relationships first. Don’t go to business immediately.
When you present yourself, don’t tell the long story of your life. Instead, get to know the person better, or do your homework in advance and learn about the person before the event.
Get ready with your elevator pitch or self-presentation plan. Don’t tell the story of your life. You have to know what you want and present yourself, your idea or your project.
Smile, because your smile will open doors. When you smile you look positive and send positive vibes, and your attitude to another person is automatically positive.
For the first impression, remember you are the message to the world. Coming out of your home in the morning, think what kind of message you would like to bring to the world. When you’re planning the day, plan your image and your attitude.