The keynote speaker at the fourth-annual Junior League of Tulsa (JLT) Mentorship Luncheon is Myka Meier, a renowned social and cultural etiquette expert and founder of New York City-based Beaumont Etiquette.
Meier’s expertise has been featured on “Good Morning America,” NBC, and Bravo, as well as in The Huffington Post, Vogue, People, and Self publications. As we know, good manners never go out of style, but Meier credits a recent resurgence in interest to learn about the ins and outs of good graces to the lovely and stylish Duchess of Cambridge, formerly known as Kate Middleton.
One of Meier’s most popular courses is aptly titled “The Duchess Effect,” and attendees fly across the country for Meier’s lessons. As you would expect, Meier’s services are very much in demand, yet she graciously found time for a short Q&A with JLT’s Gusher Online.
JLT: I have always believed that good manners and etiquette are not the same thing. Is that correct?
Meier: I believe manners and etiquette are different as well. Etiquette is the protocol in which something should be done. The actual word “etiquette” defined in French means “sign.” French King Louis XIV started putting signs that read “étiquette” in his lawn so that his guests would understand his rules of not stepping on his well-manicured grass.
Manners are simply the action a person takes to show consideration toward others.
I always say the most important thing is to be kind, thoughtful, and respectful to everyone around you. Even if you don’t know the exact protocol of a situation, a person with good manners is appreciated by all.
JLT: Some say good manners are bred, but from the success of your company, it seems as though good manners and etiquette can be bought and taught. … So do you firmly believe a commoner can adopt the princess panache?
Meier: I think that while many people are not raised with manners or etiquette, as adults we start to recognize that they set people apart. Even if it was not something you were taught as a child, anyone can learn to have good etiquette, and it’s up to you to teach yourself.
Do I believe a commoner can adopt princess panache? Absolutely! I’ve seen (and helped with!) massive transformations. I also think the proof is in the pudding. If you look at the most recent royal weddings globally (England, Sweden, Spain, Monaco), almost all of the royals married “normal” people. Yes, I think these people went through intensive etiquette training, but it shows that anyone can do it! I’m filming a TV program now proving this very point. … Stay tuned!
JLT: Let’s turn to Kate Middleton. If I wanted to “up my game” overnight and adopt some simple social graces modeled after The Duchess of Cambridge, what three steps would you recommend and can you please explain why?
- Becoming more graceful. One instant trick? Slow down! The most graceful women you’ll ever meet are organized, methodical, and make thoughtful movements. You never see an elegant woman running down the street in her heels. From your hand movements to the speed that you speak and walk … a graceful lady might take a bit more time, but has 10 times the impact.
- A few tips on how to correct your posture, and you’ll be amazed at the instant changes you see in yourself and that others notice too. You can be wearing the most gorgeous gown in the room, but if your shoulders are slumped and your chin is slanted toward downward, you won’t sparkle the way you could.
- Dining etiquette! It’s something we use everyday, multiple times per day, but yet so many people still don’t quite know all the rules at the table. For instance, there is an exact way your napkin should be folded in your lap, a correct way to hold your fork and knife, and a proper way to hold your coffee and teacup (the handle always stays at 3 o’clock!) But once you learn these skills, you can use them the rest of your life! I’ll be talking about some of the biggest dining faux pas I see and teaching you how to prevent them during my keynote!
JLT: I loved that you said in an interview your number-one, go-to rule on proper etiquette is to “throw kindness out like it’s confetti” and to treat everyone the same and be kind to all. Why is that difficult for so many people today to do?
Meier: If remembered for nothing else, I hope it would be for this quote, as this is my daily motto. I think, sadly, people become very self-involved and wrapped up in their own success and happiness and forget about others. What I wish these people could learn is that by spending just a little time each day making someone else happy and spreading kindness, even the smallest gesture, their lives could be so much more fulfilled and enriched.
JLT: We live in a society where people share everything all the time. What is your guiding principle when it comes to social media?
Meier: If you don’t want your grandmother or your boss to read it, don’t post it. Even when you think something is “private” … once it’s on the web, it’s out there for good. I also think just as we say, “think before you speak,” you should “think before you post.”
JLT: Many JLT members/sustainers are mothers. What advice do you have for raising children with excellent manners?
Meier: I think you can never start too young! Begin teaching etiquette to children as soon as they begin speaking. You can start by teaching them please and thank you when they ask for something. When the child is old enough to sit at the dinner table (even in a highchair) you can start teaching dining etiquette. I encourage family meals as many times per week as possible, so they understand from an early age what manners are expected from them during a meal.
I also think another important point is not ignoring bad manners … even if they don’t know yet that it was wrong. Their actions should be addressed instantly, so they associate the incident with your reaction. Sometimes parents are embarrassed by something a child has done, but it’s your job to acknowledge the issue.
To hear more of what Meier has to say, be sure to attend this year’s Mentorship Luncheon. Tickets are available for $65 here. The event will be held Friday, January 22 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Southern Hills Country Club (2636 South 61st Street). The deadline to purchase tickets is 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, January 20.