Patricia Persson isn’t just early. She’s 13 minutes early.
This queen of etiquette could hardly be mistaken for anyone else as she stands — perfect posture, polished fingernails and pressed clothing — in the doorway of Café Americano, waiting to share her expertise on dining savvy, social etiquette and communication.
A certified executive etiquette consultant from the International School of Protocol, Persson’s method, “Persson to person,” is hands-on and Socratic: She teaches the concept, hoping to make it interesting, and follows up with a fun activity and discussion.
“Since I started teaching, I find that students are hungry for rules,” Persson said. “Once they know the rules, they are more active, give more smiles, are more confident and take control.”
Persson, who has been developing curriculum and teaching for 14 years, instructs four-week and 12-week etiquette classes targeted at children ages 6 to 13 and ages 13 to 17, in addition to White Gloves Table Manners for Teens, a social etiquette class, similar to Cotillion, that includes a student workbook.
Persson had originally scheduled the White Gloves Table Manners for Teens class for Nov. 21, just before Thanksgiving. She hoped to prep teenagers for the holiday arrival of their grandparents or other relatives by teaching them vital information, such as how to pass the salt and pepper. (Hint: The shakers are married and always travel together.) But this particular class has been postponed; spring and summer 2010 class information will be available in December.
All classes interrelate, and students learn not only proper manners, but also how to dress appropriately for dinner, cleanliness, conversation skills and how to seat themselves.
Persson says she’s gotten used to the funny questions that constantly arise — from both children and adults.
“Second-graders will say, ‘I’m left-handed, so I’m going to shake hands with my left hand.’ At a seminar on dining, one attorney refused to take the straw out of his beverage,” Persson said. “It’s all about getting people to become comfortable and enjoy life and going from there. You have to capture them and joke around, because if it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing.”
IF YOU GO
Programs are designed for separate age groups (ages 6 to 13 and ages 13 to 17) in four- or 12-week courses that start at $80. White Gloves Table Manners for Teens is a separate course that costs $86. Consulting seminars for executives are also available. For more information, call 350-6238 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Table manners. You will learn dining techniques such as setting the table; holding utensils American-style or Continental-style; different glassware and dishes; the art of serving and receiving food; and how to be the perfect host and guest.
Social etiquette. This program builds confidence and self-esteem through greetings and handshakes; common courtesies; etiquette in public places; acts of kindness and respect; behaviors as a good host and guest; and personal image and interviewing.
Communication skills. A program designed to develop character that includes proper greetings and introductions; conversation and listening skills; and public-speaking skills.