During the 19th century finishing schools was predominantly linked to the female folks. This school was saddled with the responsibility of teaching young women social graces and upper class cultural rites as a preparation for entry into the society. However, there was a major detour from the 1960s with commercial pressures driven by the shifting conceptions of women’s role in the society. However, in the 21st century the term took a totally different meaning with the business model of finishing school. Today finishing school is popular for grooming corporate executives, entrepreneurs, politicians etc.
When the term finishing school is mentioned, it is quickly attributed to manners and how to behave. Women are judged based on their manners – how they speak, greet, eat, sit and even sleep. Contrary to general opinion that placed women on social lens, the male folks in this century are also under intense social scrutiny – how they speak, how they conduct their business even their core personal life. Quite an impressive number of men have relinquished their prime position based on allegation of manners or behaviour dimmed socially unfit. One of such men is Richard Nixon the 37th President of United States of America, who resigned due to the Watergate scandal rocking his second term administration. Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina is another example that readily comes to mind and there are many more.
In recent years, the world has been influenced by the importance of corporate etiquette, with a shift in focus from the social or household setting to an emphasis on business etiquette, protocol and social groom.
The workplace comes with some written and unwritten rules guiding – hand-shakes, dress code, business cards, interview etiquette, telephone etiquette, dining Etiquette, email etiquette, international business etiquette and appearance. The behavioural expectations in these areas are not limited to women. Every professional needs to have good business etiquette because in the business world, good business etiquette means that you act professionally and exercise proper manners when engaging with others in your profession. The lack of etiquette can cost you a job, a promotion or even a contract. I’m sure you can agree with me that finishing schools in modern times are not for women alone.
Although, you might have been taught in communication classes the importance of 45cm, 1.2m and 3.6m in personal space management. Finishing schools will teach you all you need to know about maintaining your own space and how not to invade others space on the dining table. If, you are to be considered a top-notch professional your dining etiquette must be primed up. Only a few executives in our climes have been to finishing school, this edge is obvious as it stands them out among their peers.
Finishing schools are therefore, a crucial phase in preparing one’s self for the professional world. The demands placed upon today’s professionals surpass any experience in the past. The sophisticated professional must know how to distinguish himself or herself from the competition, project a positive and respectful image, project confidence and authority, and build teamwork in a multicultural environment irrespective of gender.