Nevena Basarova-Dicheva, founder, manager and trainer, on the importance of being polite
Etiquette and good manners are not something from the quaint past, they are more crucial than ever for our and our children's wellbeing and social and business progress. However, as the globalised world is rapidly changing and getting bigger, the rules and things to know and consider when communicating with people in different social situations and from different cultures are on the rise. They cannot be taught by the family alone anymore.
This is where Kids Academy for Good Manners can help. Established 7 years ago by enthusiastic and visionary Nevena Basarova-Dicheva, it is the best place for children and adults to learn how to behave in the best way in modern society, and to reap the benefits throughout their lives.
Why did you decide to become a specialist in etiquette and good manners and to found a special academy?
As a law graduate and a practicing lawyer I realised that for a professional, the excellent diploma and the fluency in foreign languages were not enough to make a good first impression. The skills to communicate, convince, and realise and manage emotions were also crucial. I witnessed the negative impact the lack of proper table manners at work lunch can have, for example. Such things inevitably make a lasting impression. When they are according to the established rules of social etiquette, when they are stylish and elegant, reaching a consensus on different topics between different people is much easier.
For success, soft skills are just as important as good education. Of course, the earlier education in good manners starts, the better. It is easier to create a correct habit than to uproot a bad one and to teach a new one. This was why I decided to open a school for etiquette and good manners where children could learn the rules of communication. It would help them later to have friends and to be good partners in their private and professional lives. Such academies are well known in Western Europe; in Switzerland, France and the UK there are established schools in etiquette. It is hardly a coincidence that these nations symbolise class, style, sportsmanship and successful economy and business literature.
Why do modern people need to master good manners?
Good manners today are as important as they were for the previous generations. The difference is that today we are living faster and at a grander scale. It is crucial to know cultural differences. In an Arab country, for example, one should not offer a handshake to a woman or give something with their left hand. Both are offensive in the Arab world. By being aware of such intercultural differences, people can communicate more skilfully and can reach solutions that benefit both parties.
Social media and the Internet make us constantly exposed, with them it is easier to compromise your public image. This is why good manners are important for modern people. They provide confidence, flexibility and opportunity to make a good first impression, to inspire trust and to be a preferred colleague, employee, partner or boss.
What are the advantages of good manners in business?
In the past year and a half online communication and trainings has become the dominant form of doing business. Consequently, the importance of being fluent in online business etiquette grew exponentially. The way we sit in front of the computer at home, for example, is very important. Even when a business person is sitting in their own living room, they cannot afford to be shabby, in home clothes, with uncombed hair. Knowing proper etiquette and good manners allow the modern business person to stand out, to be exceptional.
For who are the trainings at Kids Academy for Good Manners?
Initially, the idea was to offer training to children aged 5-10 years. But in the 7 years since the Academy's foundation, a growing number of teenagers and parents became interested in it. This is why the training is for everyone who wants to improve themselves – children, teenagers, parents, ladies, gentlemen, business persons. It is for people who want to be refined, stylish and make a good impression in order to be remembered and to stand out. It is for people who want to order pasta at a work dinner and to be able to eat it properly, without getting messy and embarrassing themselves. In short, it is for everyone. Because it teaches knowledge and skills with wide application in everyday and business life, and these last for life.
What does the training process at Kids Academy for Good Manners look like?
The Academy offers different options suited to everyone. Currently, the online lessons that I teach are the most popular form of training. We also offer prerecorded videos on a number of different platforms. There is as well an option for weekend modules with summer academies for children and parents. I teach etiquette and good manners at kindergartens and children's educational centres. I organise seminars for parents, and trainings on restaurant etiquette for children and adults.
The topics in the trainings are covered in detail in my books Children's Academy for Good Manners and Exercises in Etiquette: making good first impression, communication skills, the skill to say "no" politely and social affiliation as an emotional intelligence skill for good manners at school and kindergarten. We work towards creating a personal style and adequate look for special events and occasions, behaviour at reception, cocktail parties, baptisms, weddings. We discuss intercultural differences and topics connected to joy and acceptance of different people, the skill to be good guests and hosts, and party etiquette. We cover each corner of the life of modern people. As I joke, the Academy for Good Manners teaches the things that children usually learn at breaks at school, not in classes. The Academy for Good Manners is actually an Academy of Life.