The centuries old pattern of ‘going into retirement at a certain age’ is fading away - - - and it’s for a good reason. Doctors around the world are now saying that instead of heading into retirement, you are better off staying in work to keep physically and mentally active.

Instead of facing retirement without a plan, many are embarking on this new chapter of their lives by reinventing themselves. Searching for a new career path, starting a business, making your hobby profitable, these are challenges that ex-retirees are finding exciting and purposeful.

After retirement many succumb to loneliness, isolation and health deterioration. With all the recent studies we know that going into auto-pilot, drifting without purpose only gets you one place fast.

The AARP Bulletin recently searched out ordinary people who have done extraordinary things with their second careers.  They discovered that 40 percent of people working at age 62 had changed careers since they turned 55. We found this article to align with many of the individuals who attend The American School of Protocol’s Etiquette Certification Training.

President and Founder of The American School of Protocol, Peggy Newfield says, “Seventy percent of the trainees who attend our program are planning for their second career. They are utilizing their new found freedom after retirement as a way to not only keep themselves busy, but also an avenue to give back.”

Peggy Newfield speaking to trainees during the 5-Day Etiquette Certification Training

According to Newfield, “With over 800 certified graduates, I have found that careers can take off at any age. There is only one ingredient that has to be there: PASSION.”

During The American School of Protocol’s five day training program trainees learn how to set up an etiquette consulting and teaching business. Through hands-on tutorials, small sessions, and class discussion each graduate leaves feeling empowered and ready to set out on their new career path.

“ASP’s proven outline and ongoing support is the roadmap to success” says Martha Berge who graduated from the program in 2015. After retiring Berge found herself bored and in need of stimulating work. 

“After working as a marketing executive for 35 years I was not ready to just lounge around. I needed a purpose.”

Berge is now using the skill set she learned during Etiquette Certification Training to reach out to her community. She is a keynote speaker once a month at rotary meetings and has a set evening every week where she answers etiquette questions at her local country club. 

With 15 grandchildren Berge also makes it a point to personally teach her grandchildren. “They find my sessions to be fun and truly look forward to it.”

Berge says the experience and skill set that she gained during the 5-Day Certification training has empowered her.  She now feels more connected to her family and community than ever before. 

“My children and grandchildren call me to ask etiquette questions. I have been asked to attend a local high school job fair and speak to the students about interview skills and how to land the job. The opportunities seems endless.” 

Newfield, who founded The American School of Protocol in 1980 strongly believes that those heading into retirement need to plan for this new chapter of their lives.

“Keeping your mind busy improves your chances of staying healthier longer. It’s a fact. Instead of focusing on ‘retirement’ we need to start thinking about what to do next.” 

Newfield strongly states, "You are still here and have something to offer. Don’t sit around and waste your time lunching and shopping.  Make yourself useful and do something you will be proud of."

To Learn more about The American School of Protocol’s Certification Training that is helping to launch second careers all over the world click here.

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Location  Atlanta, Georgia

2018 DATES

February 11 - 15

June 10 - 14

October 14 - 18

Click here for more information on the Children’s Etiquette Certification Training. 

 You can also contact us with any questions at
404.252.2245 or email team@theamericanschoolofprotocol.com

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While some routinely dine in formal settings and host elegant functions at home, the majority are more likely to display their etiquette skills in an office, a waiting room, check-out lines and on social media.

Knowing how to conduct ourselves in everyday surroundings can be more valuable than correctly identifying a cocktail fork or knowing how to use a finger bowl.

Do you recognize anyone in these everyday etiquette pitfalls?  Let us know any we’ve missed, or your biggest pet peeve.

Your cell phone conversation is not interesting.

NEWSFLASH no one wants to be a captive audience to your spouse’s medical diagnosis, your child’s grades or your beloved aunt’s birthday plans. 

Be cognizant of cell phone usage in places like waiting rooms, elevators and intimate coffee shops.

Woman talking on mobile phone while shopping for clothes

Your personal hygiene is your responsibility. 

Let’s face it: some things in life are simply beyond our control. 

Not so with personal hygiene…take control and make sure you aren’t offensive, ever.

Your tendency toward TMI is a turn-off. 

Social media can be fun, enlightening and informative. It can also be downright cringe-worthy when used as a private journal, therapy session, political platform or attention-getter.

Don’t be that needy, desperate, overbearing ‘friend’ we all love to block.

Your invasion of personal space is uncomfortable.

If you plan to chip in on their grocery bill, by all means join the guy ahead of you at the check-out counter.  Otherwise, back up. 

Same goes for any payment line (think ATMs or the theater kiosks), as well as face-to-face conversations.

Standing in a row. Young people waiting in line to buy something

Your out-of-control child is not cute.

There are playgrounds, and then there are restaurants and places of business. 

Children shouldn’t be allowed to wreak havoc on unsuspecting diners or shoppers.

Little girl is capricious

Your jaw-dropping outfit is better-suited for a night club. 

Any professional setting requires professional dress.  Don’t go for WOW on Wednesday at the staff meeting…you will be the topic of an unflattering conversation.

Good etiquette is so much more than observing acceptable social practices and following a list of tedious rules.

‘Well-mannered’ individuals are those that put others before themselves, and ensure the comfort and well-being of the people around them.  By focusing on kindness, courtesy and consideration, you can avoid the danger of everyday etiquette pitfalls.

Portrait of young attractive handsome brunette man driving car and greeting somebody with hand.

It is truly interesting to trace our everyday behaviors – many of which we don’t give a second thought – back to their origins.

The earliest record of social practices may be found in the 3rd millennium BC in the writings of the Egyptian writer Ptahhote. Then came Confucius and on to King Louis XIV.

While some of the customs from long ago have remained fixtures in our modern society, there are many that have faded into obscurity and for good reason.

We have uncovered the explanations behind some of today’s common customs that managed to stick around.

Shaking hands

Shaking hands is a common greeting. But do you have any clue who started it or why we continue to do it?

Dating back to Ancient Greece this greeting was a sign of equality and mutual respect.

It replaced bows and curtsies, while also serving as proof that both parties came unarmed.

In medieval Europe, the handshake became a powerful symbol of the bond between husband and wife. It was the final gesture of wedding ceremonies.

Today the handshake still represents respect and is seen as a welcoming gesture.

We use it in business and social interactions, but not so much in marriages.

Partners finance success sales person shaking hands greeting meeting first time

“Bless you!”

Here in the United States, when someone sneezes, “Bless you” will often be heard immediately after.

It’s almost as much of a reflex as sneezing itself.

It is a rather strange custom if you think about it. We don’t acknowledge any other bodily functions with such dignity.

So how did this response originate?

The Greeks and Romans viewed it as a sign of wellness – a means of expelling bad spirits from the body – and would routinely offer blessings unto the sneezer.

However, centuries later, widespread fears brought on by the outbreak of the bubonic plague in 1330 cast suspicion on the sneeze.

Pope Gregory VII called on the people of Europe to utter a short prayer, “Bless you”, after every sneeze to protect against the sickness.

And there you have it!

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Elbows off!

“Don’t put your elbows on the table!”

The origin of this classic motherly adage dates back to medieval times. Feasts were held in great halls and hundreds of people would eat together at long wooden tables.

While the food was often plentiful, space was not.

Furthermore, when dining in the presence of the lords and ladies of the realm, it was deemed “peasant-like” to hunch over one’s plate, guarding the food from others.

The act gave off an aura of distrust, and has since become a commonly repeated rule.

Clinking glasses

Cheers! girls celebrate a bachelorette party of bride.

After a toast, it is tradition to clink glasses with fellow diners.

This iconic act of celebration comes from a morbid past. It was started with the intention of spilling a little of the other person’s drink into your own to demonstrate that neither party had poisoned the other’s glass.

The clink was a sign of good will, a feeling that has endured to today.

How We Hold Our Utensils

As all of our ASP grads know, there is a stark difference in dining styles once you cross the Atlantic.

In the United States, a “Zig-Zag” method is used, while our European neighbors predominantly eat “Continental.”

It is surprising to learn that the traditional European method was in fact this American style.

The modern dining divide resulted when British colonists sailed across the Atlantic, bringing their multi-step cutting method to the New World.

The colonists retained this dining style, but back in Europe, the Industrial Revolution brought a faster pace of life that left little room for the niceties and courtesies of the previous era, leading to the more streamlined Continental style.

Dining Skills

If you enjoyed reading about the history of etiquette, then be sure to check out this article from National Geographic How Table Manners as We Know Them Were a Renaissance Invention. 

Here are some corny clichés we could die happy never hearing again.

Annoyed Lady in Cafe

“It goes without saying”…then don’t.

“Let’s touch base”…only when rounding third.

“Move the goalpost…who does this? A cheating goaltender?

“At the end of the day”…we’re all tired – of this phrase.

“It is what it is”…and what, exactly, is that?

“Going forward”…as opposed to traveling back in time.

“It’s on my radar”…it’s a faint, fading beep. But it’s on there.

“I’ll circle back”…like a vulture circling roadkill.

“Let’s take this off-line”…because we’ve bored everyone to tears.

“It’s neither here nor there”…Then where the heck is it?

“Low hanging fruit”…those who are too dumb to see through this charade.

“I have a lot on my plate”…doctors recommend six small meals per day.

“When push comes to shove”…you’re in bar brawl.

“Think outside the box”…the 90s called and wants their cliché back.

These cliché sayings have been used so often that they’ve lost their impact and make you look out-of-date. 

What overused lines make you cringe?  Comment below so we can commiserate.

Annoyed young male on the phone

Young woman listening

As it turns out, there’s a big difference between hearing and listening.  If our auditory system is intact, hearing means our ear drums pick up sound waves and vibrations and turn them into electrical signals to the brain.  This differs from actually listening, which is an important communication skill.  And like all skills, listening requires practice and discipline to master.

Active listening is defined by the “The Business Dictionary” as:

The act of mindfully hearing and attempting to comprehend the meaning of words spoken by another in a conversation or speech. Active listening is an important communication skill, and it can involve making sounds that indicate attentiveness, as well as giving feedback in the form of a paraphrased rendition of what has been said by the other party for their confirmation.

Unlike hearing, active listening doesn’t just happen. It is mindful, attentive and deliberate.  It uses all our senses and requires energy and focus. An active listener tries to comprehend the message a speaker is conveying, and to respond appropriately. The good news, according to John M. Grohol, Psy.D., is that anyone can become an active listener by employing certain techniques. 

DOs of Active Listening:

Businesswoman listening to her colleague talk

DON’Ts of Active Listening:

Active listening builds rapport and promotes mutual trust and understanding.  It allows us to learn from others, experience different perspectives and connect with people on deeper level.  In doing so, it improves relations in the home, the workplace and the community at large. Just imagine how our society could benefit if everyone practiced the techniques of active listening!

Listening

If speaking in public or giving a presentation to a group is enough to keep you up at night, don't worry, you are not alone.  More than 80% of people agonize or have some anxiety before speaking in public.

We have compiled 6 smart tips to help you feel more comfortable (and less nervous) the next time you need to command the room.

1.Maintain Eye Contact

While speaking to a group, making eye contact is very important. Eye contact will keep the individual audience members feeling important. By making eye contact and maintaining it, you will come across as more genuine and confident. Keep in mind, if you do not maintain the eye contact, you may come off as nervous. If your eyes linger a little too long, you may make the audience members uncomfortable.

public speaking etiquette advice

2. Instead of  Reading From Notes Use Visual Aids

When you present with visual aids instead reading off note cards or a sheet of paper, it comes across as though you really know your material and that you cared enough to become familiar with it. Whether it is a pamphlet or a powerpoint, visual aids will keep the audience members engaged. Visual aids also provide you, the presenter with an outline and talking points as you move through your presentation.

3. Use Appropriate Body Language

Body Language can help get a point across and keep the audience focused. As opposed to standing still with your hands by your sides, briefly moving about and small gestures will keep all eyes on you. Keep in mind that frequent movement and large gestures can be distracting.  If you do not have a podium and are standing solo in front of an audience, stand straight and tall with arms by your side or let your hands fall around the waist. Never clasp your hands together below your waist.

Public Speaking Etiquette

4. Include Humor

Getting the audience to laugh can make you feel more confident and comfortable. It is also a great way to regain the attention of someone who may not be giving you their full attention. Always try to incorporate a few humorous points into your presentation. It will allow the audience to relax and connect with you while also giving you a boost of confidence.

5. Speak Slowly

When giving a presentation, speak clearly and project. It is very common for people to speak faster than usual during a presentation.  Speaking slowly and clearly will give you time to think and will help the audience follow what you are saying. It is helpful to take brief pauses during transitions.

6. Study

The best way to become an excellent presenter is to watch really good, experienced speakers and model your talks after theirs. Notice not just what they say, but what they do, how they move, how they sound, how they structure their talks. Add those devices to your own repertoire.

Public Speaking

If you have prepared well and know your material, there is no reason to be nervous. If you mess up don’t make a big deal or beat yourself up. Take a moment to pause and think, then continue with your thought. If you are at ease, there is less of a chance that your nerves will take control and cause you to make a mistake.

With our ever changing digital world our attention spans are shrinking and are producing what Howard Rhinegold characterizes as “butterflying from topic to topic.” 

Yes it can be fun to “feel” like we are gaining vast amounts of information as we go from topic to topic on our news feeds and read outrageous comments posted by users, but it just isn’t real; we are selling ourselves short. 

Etiquette Technology

Infographics, 140 character tweets, 500 character YouTube comments, emoji’s that stand in for responses, and the instant gratification we get with clicks are all ways we are short cutting our output and our intake. 

As a society, we have become impatient and easily annoyed when we have to wait.  We expect everything at the speed of lightning.

Lashing out and spewing disrespectful rhetoric about race, politics, religion and sex is so easy and it often gains attention. Many are ready and willing to state their opinions on social platforms no matter what the consequence may be.

It has become easier than ever to insert an emoji and respond quickly instead of having a discussion of differing opinions. Unfortunately this type of shortcut paired with impatience has weakened our ability to have civil conversations in person or online. 

But really, what can we do? The internet is here to stay and information will not slow down because its speed can seem rude. The only thing we can control is how we do or do not respond to things. 

The next time you read something that offends you, stop and ask yourself, “Does this really affect me?”  Be honest and if it is not going to ruin your reputation, your income or love life; let it go. 

After you formulate your digital communication, reread it with the sweetest, most polite tone you can muster.  If it comes off as snide, rude or curt – rewrite it.  This also applies to reading something that seems written with anger or hostility – reread it. You might find a different message altogether.

young asian business person sitting at desk thinking hard.

If you are involved in a conversation and the banter is going downhill, try to steer it back on topic or make a quick exit. 

If you strongly disagree with someone or see that they are making a fool of themselves, reach out to the individuals through private messaging. The person may be totally unaware of how their message is coming across.  

The etiquette of please and thank you is waning in technology today. As you go forward in your daily postings and responses, keep your dignity and your digital footprint in mind. 

The American School of Protocol is proud to claim graduates from over 40 different countries. In October, our Corporate Etiquette Certification class included an attendee from South Korea and provided a unique opportunity to celebrate and appreciate diverse customs and traditions.   All of our attendees came away with improved skills in the art of cultural inclusivity and acceptance.

Being knee-deep in the holiday season increases the likelihood of exposure to new people and unfamiliar beliefs and practices.  Good etiquette demands that we are prepared and able to avoid offending others.

The phrase ‘politically correct’ has gained a lot of criticism recently. Politically correct; commonly abbreviated to PC, is used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to particular groups in society.

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‘Can you state your feelings today and still be politically correct?’ was a segment on a prominent news show this week.  The host stated that it is hard because people take offense to so many things these days.

With many people tired of hearing how to, and why to be more ‘politically correct’, we saw this as an opportunity to turn it around.  Instead of being more ‘politically correct’, we would like to encourage you to be more conscious of others feelings and try to understand different religions and cultures.

We have listed a few simple tips that can help make interactions with others easier - - especially at this time of year.

In short, we must rid ourselves of all assumptions and be more aware of our words and actions. This isn’t the end of hearing about being ‘politically correct’, but we are hopeful that it might be a shift in the right direction.

Culture is constantly changing around us. Fads come in and out like the tide, celebrities rise and fall, and breaking scientific discoveries shift consumer preferences almost on a weekly basis. Etiquette, though based heavily in tradition, is not immune to this process.  The most apparent places of the changing etiquette world is found in the "casualization" of the American corporate sphere.

Stiff collars and tight ties are replaced with brightly-colored polos and khaki shorts. Formal letterheads and personalized stationery are fading out as texts and emails - and even emoticons! - dominate communication. While some may yearn for the "old days" of business, this relaxation of the rules is not necessarily a bad thing. Studies have shown that looser dress codes and a friendlier office environment result in a happier and more productive workforce. But an increase in comfort should not mean a decrease in etiquette!

The biggest source of office faux pas is small enough to fit inside a pocket. Most smartphone addicts don't give a second thought to glancing at a glowing screen or surreptitiously sending off an email. Some culprits defend this rude behavior as being attentive and responsive to their customers' needs. What these business people fail to notice is that there is a delicate balance between digital and personal interactions. Immediate responses to calls, texts, and emails should never be prioritized over a face-to-face meeting or a lunch out.

It is difficult for some professionals to control the impulse to check beeping gadgets, but they are not completely to blame. This sense of indebtedness to clients is the consequence of the increasing selfishness of average American consumers. Young professionals have been scarred by unpleasant encounters with clients who feel entitled to their attention at every waking hour. These needy clients are deluded by the "Me Culture" - a nationwide rise of narcissism - into thinking that they are the only people with claims on their attention. They need to be reminded that there are others beyond their narrow focus on "me, me, me!"

Modern technology has fostered the development of a sense of constant connectivity. While this can lead to entitled clientele, it can also result in flaky "professionals" who are anything but! If you tell a colleague that you'll meet them for lunch, don't call them thirty minutes before to cancel.  Having a cellphone always around enables us to make last-minute changes, but that doesn't mean that we should.

There is nothing wrong with relaxing office protocol - too many Americans cite work-related stress as a serious health concern. Just remember that a little extra effort - writing a handwritten thank-you note, arriving to your appointments ten minutes early, or dressing up when you know you'll see a client - can go a long way in the business world.