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Mind your manners! Windsor Profile: Etiquette Consultant Joanna Parris

“The great secret, Eliza, is not having bad manners or good manners or any other particular sort of manners, but having the same manner for all human souls: in short, behaving as if you were in Heaven, where there are no third-class carriages, and one soul is as good as another.” – George Bernard Shaw

Joanna Parris, an etiquette expert and owner of the Etiquette Nanny and parent company BOSS (Best Opportunity to Support Self) Inc., is passionate about infusing common courtesy and respect into everyday life.

A former teacher, model and beauty queen coach, the certified etiquette trainer spoke with OurWindsor about the art of etiquette, conducting oneself in the workplace and the consequences of bad etiquette that people may not even realize.

What is etiquette? Is it a lost art these days?

Etiquette is the rules for respect and good manners. Etiquette is not a lost art, it is alive and well. Etiquette or good manners never go out of style.

Tell me about the Etiquette Nanny and the inspiration behind it?

Before I started BOSS Inc. 13 years ago, I was already working in the schools with young people. A teacher heard me speaking at an event, and asked if I could speak to her class about respect and manners. That is really how I started, conducting presentations and workshops and eventually formed BOSS. The Etiquette Nanny came later.

What are some of the consequences of bad etiquette that people may not realize?

The consequences are many. Coming back to our youth, adults set the example. At work or with your boss it’s about building relationships. If you don’t have the proper etiquette, it doesn’t sit well with people. It’s about respect. Respect yourself first and respect others.

What is your biggest etiquette pet peeve that people make?

Cell phone use. When people get on their cell phone, they don’t remember where they are. If you are on the phone in public or during a business meeting – a call you must take – don’t talk about personal business. When I am on the phone with someone, I don’t want to hear the toilet flush. If you are in the supermarket, use your inside voice when you are on the phone. Very few people will be able to hear you.

What is the benefit to knowing proper etiquette?

When you learn, and act properly, people look up to you. You never know who is watching and for what reason. If you are well groomed, behaved and well spoken, people pay attention.

What does etiquette training help in the business world?

Etiquette training teaches people how to conduct themselves in the workplace: meeting, greeting, proper attire and even how to make presentations. There are nuances that can be learned that may be taken for granted.

What have been the three most important things to keeping the Etiquette Nanny successful?

First, living and acting what I am preaching. Secondly, over-delivering. I always give people more than they expect. Finally, I am genuine. People see through if you are fake.

What are the worst and best parts of your daily business?

The worst, I don’t like mornings. I have to pump myself up if I have an early morning meeting. The best is seeing someone develop before my eyes. I get great satisfaction in that.

Who is your role model and why?

One of my first role models was a teacher in elementary school, Ms. Woodley. I was 5’10” and she was six feet tall. She would always tell me to sit up straight, don’t slouch, and she spoke beautifully.

Today, my role model is Donna Messer. She is a networking guru and one of the first people I met when I came to Canada. She is warm and caring, and showed me the ropes coming from Trinidad. I really appreciate her advice.

How do you balance work/career and family life?

I make sure I take time for myself. If I don’t rope myself in, I would be going 24/7.

What is most rewarding about your job?

Just being with people and seeing them improve. When I get a note saying ‘I feel good or I aced the interview or I met my in-laws being too nervous,’ I feel good.

How can people learn more about your speaking, coaching and etiquette training?

People can look on the website for more information or to contact me.

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