‘Etiquette’ is a French term that describes society’s expectations as to how people should behave.

Expected behavior is influenced by social and cultural norms that tell us what kind of personal conduct is appropriate when interacting with a particular individual or group of people.

In other words, etiquette is all about following certain behavioural rules and standards so that we can project an image of a person who is properly educated, cultured and well mannered.

These rules are unwritten and are, in the main, underlying principles influencing everything from how we communicate through to all the complex and highly regulated interactions between people of different classes, cultures and genders.

Broadly speaking, the pursuit of etiquette requires knowledge of specific verbal and non-verbal communication tools (manners) that impact the way we are perceived by others. These can be divided into the following areas

Courtesy – demonstrating an ability to show care and concern for others by understanding how your possible actions might affect others in the future.

Appearance – demonstrating a knowledge of grooming including personal hygiene, clothes sense (fashion), and body language including spoken skills.

Culture – demonstrating an ability to acquire and apply the cultural norms identified with a specific socio-cultural group, that is, to appear to ‘belong’.

A modern Twist on Tradition

A finishing school aims to extend a young lady’s education after completing her high schooling, providing additional schooling in social and cultural protocols to prepare her for her entry into adult society.

Traditionally, finishing schools in Switzerland served young women from aristocratic European families with their focus on teaching etiquette, art appreciation, and home management.

Once a young girl became a woman of a marriageable age, she began to receive training in the social graces such as posture and deportment, polite speech and appropriate table manners.

She was also taught how to be an effective host of social gatherings, a skill that was considered important to a ‘society wife’. Managing the social life of an intending husband’s friends, clients or business partners was considered to be part of assisting his career and, therefore, the couple’s future prosperity.

Though these skills may seem menial or superficial in the context of the modern woman, they were nonetheless considered to be important practical skills designed to prepare the young woman for her adult life and a successful marriage.

Over the years, as women have progressed from the dining room to the boardroom, most of these traditional European institutions have closed.

But the importance of etiquette and refinement in social interaction is enjoying a revival as success in today’s complex global environment demands people who are more socially and culturally competent.

Arden Institute delivers the traditions of the finishing school but with a fresh, modern twist to meet the needs of the ambitious modern woman.


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