It used to be called charm school, a place to help debutantes learn social graces like how to walk or hold a fork. But these days, etiquette classes are teaching New Yorkers how to succeed in business and in their personal lives. NY1's Michael Scotto filed the following report.
Achieving proper etiquette can be difficult. But good social graces are essential not just for British dinner parties.
"If you go on a date with someone, and they're spitting food across a table, it's one of those moments that can make or break a date or business meeting," says Myka Meier, who runs Beaumont Etiquette, a kind of modern-day charm school with classes at the famed Plaza Hotel.
Born in Florida, Meier became interested in etiquette while living and studying in Britain. On Wednesday night, she taught what could be called etiquette 2.0 to a group of twentysomething professionals.
There were pointers on proper dining and interacting with business professionals.
"You must make yourself look approachable when you're at a networking event," she says to her students.
Twenty-six-year-old Rebecca Mintz paid $75 for the two-hour course. She says millennials like her need the help because they are so accustomed to being casual.
"I think it definitely says something about you when you're at a business meeting or a dinner and you really can show your strength as a professional by your etiquette," says Mintz.
I learned just how exacting it can be to do the right thing, etiquette-wise. With Meier guiding me, I put on white gloves to set a table and got schooled on how to walk through a door. Even greeting people has a complicated set of rules.
The explosion of smartphones has generated a completely new set of protocols, such as what to do when sitting down for a meal. Hint; do not think about Instagraming it.
"As soon as you get into the restaurant, that phone goes on vibrate or silent," says Meier.
The most important lesson, if you spot someone with bad etiquette, is to keep it quiet. Pointing it out is considered bad form.