Written by Victoria Caruso-Davis Tuesday, 09 June 2009 17:27
In March, Westbury resident Linda J. Williams, a certified etiquette consultant, published her first book, Church Etiquette: A Handbook for Manners and Appropriate Behavior in Church. According to amazon.com, the 80-page handbook is geared at helping “leaders and members of houses of worship understand and implement appropriate rules of behavior during services and other activities.”
Williams told The Westbury Times that Church Etiquette provides members of places of worship a way to better understand the connection between the rules of etiquette and the scriptures of the Bible. The book, she said, is aimed at those who attend services regularly as well as those who visit for specific occasions and is geared at the important rules of etiquette people should demonstrate in houses of worship. Church Etiquette discusses the atmosphere and behavior that should be present in places of worship with chapters specifically dealing with how to enter a religious institution, what to wear, how to welcome and greet people and how to act during the sermon as well as what to teach children, among other topics.
For Williams, writing Church Etiquette was a “natural progression” in that it enabled her to combine her Christian faith – she is a member of Westbury’s Covenant Baptist Church – and knowledge as an etiquette expert.
“In attending my church and visiting other houses of worship I noticed behavior that was inappropriate. Although many people know what to do we sometimes do not take the time to do it,” Williams said.
A certified corporate etiquette consultant and trainer as well as a certified children’s etiquette consultant, Williams earned her certifications from the Protocol School of Washington. Additionally, she is a senior underwriter for a local insurance company and founder of Protocol, Etiquette and Civility Experts, Inc. (PEACE), a company created to promote the philosophy of appropriate behavior and etiquette savvy. Through PEACE, Williams puts her etiquette knowledge and training to good use, developing and conducting seminars for corporations, school districts, colleges and universities as well as nonprofit organizations to provide the skills and training in manners and etiquette necessary for success for children, teens, young adults and adults.
“Using these skills in school, at work and in everyday life are vital to the future of our society,” states Williams on her website. “…the goal is to provide the tools necessary for children and adults to master the qualities of good manners in school, and home as they prepare to begin their life careers. Adults will master the tools of business etiquette, which are necessary for their success and the success of the company they work for.”
Locally, Williams has held workshops in the Westbury School District, Hicksville School District and at Nassau Community College as well as for Girl Scouts of Nassau County and the Westbury Memorial Public Library. She has also worked in New Jersey’s Medina School District and Valhalla School District and at Ramapo and Mt. Saint Vincent colleges. Additionally, she has served as a panelist for the Metropolitan New York College Career Planning Officers Association (MNYCCOPOA), the Hi Hello Child Care Training Institute and she has been featured on News12 Long Island and Newsday. She writes a business etiquette column for a major insurance company and a weekly etiquette column in an Upstate New York newspaper.
When asked how she personally deals with people with bad manners, Williams said discretion is key. “If it is someone that I know I may take them aside and speak to them. If it is someone I don’t know I try to ignore inappropriate behavior and behave as tactful as possible. Embarrassing someone because they act inappropriately solves nothing,” she said. “My other solution is to teach as many etiquette workshops as possible to share with others the importance of appropriate behavior and treating others the way we would like to be treated.”
According to Williams, proper etiquette is not so much about oneself as it is about acting in a manner that does not offend others. “Many times we are so absorbed in what we are doing that we forget to be courteous to others. Simple things like: holding the door for others, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, ‘excuse me’ and other common courtesies have been lost,” she said.