Today, judgements are passed in a matter of seconds and first impressions are here to stay. Luckily, there is a multitude of institutes and programmes that offer training. Abha Pandit dissects the world of etiquette skills and image consultancy
Growing up, everyone is taught basic manners. But rarely does one go beyond these rudimentary teachings. Not many realise the importance of being perpetually well groomed. Personal grooming and etiquettes are vital in creating a pleasant first impression. Etiquettes are codes of socially acceptable behaviour that one is expected to follow in different social situations. Politeness forms an important aspect, and correct etiquettes are considered to be characteristic of sophistication and class. Personal grooming refers to looking after one’s appearance and also includes personal hygiene.
The need to learn the finer art of sophistication gave rise to official courses and programmes that specialised in this. Finishing Schools were set up, mainly in the Western world. Gradually, the concept came to India and quickly gained popularity. There are hordes of institutes all over the country that offer to train people in the art of self-grooming and personal etiquettes. Personality Development courses, as they are known in India, cover a wide range of soft skills.
Some of the more popular programmes covered by these institutes include business and corporate etiquette, team building and interpersonal skills. These courses, both long and short, guide one in the art of communication. They teach verbal as well as non-verbal skills, including postures, walking styles, handshakes and formal communication.
Brides and grooms-to-be form a large customer base for the personality development industry. Many think it of utmost importance to be trained for their special day and to lead a happy, harmonious life with their spouse. They are taught dining etiquettes, social etiquettes and party etiquettes, amongst others. Women, in particular, enrol in these courses, since many of them also teach cooking skills, home management, make up, dressing and hair styling.
Another major component of the programmes offered is the ability to merge in with what is often known as ‘high society’. So much so, that ‘enjoying the finer things in life’, forms a part of the course structure. Lifestyle and luxury culture is something one needs to adapt to, and these courses make it simpler.
But it’s not just the high society or elitists who expect a well-groomed behaviour. Today, getting into the professional world demands that you have etiquette skills that are par excellence. A new trend that has evolved is that of enrolling children in grooming and etiquette classes. Right from the tender age of four, children are exposed to polite manners, walking and talking styles and most importantly, behaviour at the dining table. Many feel that introduction to these skill sets early on in their lives will ensure it remains ingrained throughout.
‘IMAGE MATTERS, TO GET AHEAD IN LIFE’
Devanshi Gandhi, who trained at the Image Consulting Business Institute (ICBI) of India and an internationally qualified Life Coach from the Certified Coaches Alliance (CCA), Canada, founded DreamWeavers-IMS, an image management studio five years ago. Her other qualifications include a certificate in Fashion Styling and Personal Shopping, being a senior trainer at ICBI and an international facilitator in the U.S.A. for image consultants from India, and being featured on Zoom Channel on ‘Image Banani Hai’. With such a colourful portfolio, it’s no wonder that she fits perfectly into the role of an image consultant, coaching teenagers, homemakers, corporate professionals and entrepreneurs. She gives us some useful insights about the benefit of learning image upkeep and etiquette skills:
Is image consulting an upcoming trend in India?
Being among the first few image consultants in the country, I can definitely say that this is the right time and the right country for becoming an image consultant. Awareness to improve has increased by leaps and bounds, so image building has become a sought after trend and very well established now, and is only growing. This is because people are finding value in the profession as it is extremely fulfilling and can also get you the required moolah!
How does a person benefit from doing a course on image upkeep and etiquette training?
Etiquette and grooming are absolute basics to move on in life. The benefits are far-reaching and long lasting. Depending on your specific objectives, the benefits can range from landing a new love to landing a new job. Whether you are a student, a working professional or an entrepreneur, training in etiquette and grooming can give you that extra edge over others. You carry yourself with a lot more confidence; you look better, behave in an acceptable manner and have superior social and professional skills. Etiquette and grooming becomes a part of who you are. These are tools that work for you in every area of life. It is not a switch on-switch off learning; once you experience the joy of being trained in these programs it stays with you for life. When you get transformed people around you get amazed and are pleasantly surprised at the NEW you.
Result-oriented individuals and professionals know that in order to get ahead in life, image matters. It’s not just what you wear, but how you wear it and what it says about you. It’s not just how you act, but how you interact and how others react to you. There are only benefits you can derive by doing an image enhancement course. It can help you in ways you can’t imagine, be it professionally or personally.
What inspired you to start DreamWeavers-Image Management Studio?
I started DreamWeavers-Image Management Studio in 2010. At that time, I thought it to be a risk as the industry was still very new to the country. I wasn’t sure how people would react to a concept like image management. But, I had a dream, I trained with some of the best in the industry and I wanted to set a trend, and so I went ahead and started my company. Today, I’ve completed close to five years, and I’m only too happy to have started DreamWeavers as it has rewarded me in every possible way.
While there are basic standards for maintaining personal grooming, you need to ensure you check the exact requirements for every situation. For example, while well-maintained long hair for men might be acceptable in an advertising agency, the same might not work in a customer-facing role. Similarly, heavy make-up might be necessary for a television anchor, but will be a strict no-no in many other professions. It is highly recommended that you attend personal grooming training sessions before you take up a profession.
– Ebrahim Mookhtiar, Director, Skilldom
IMAGE CONSULTANCY: A BUDDING SECTOR
Image and etiquette consultant Jasmine Pereira, the CEO and Founder of ImagEmpower, gives Neeti us the lowdown on why etiquette is important and what you can do in the image consultancy industry:
Why is etiquette and personal grooming important today?
Are you comfortable working at your workplace with people smelly socks and unkempt hair? Are you comfortable working with any unshaven men, or too oily haired women? Do you want to make friends with such people? There you have your answer – personal hygiene and grooming is extremely critical in all situations, be it social or professional. Correct etiquette enhances one’s personality.
Is it only for the corporate and professional aspect of a person’s life, or does it extend to his/her social and family life?
It’s important throughout one’s life, in all our roles and phases. In the professional world, you either get a job, promotion or lose it if you cannot present yourself right. In today’s world a corporate hires people whose attitude fits into the corporate team culture. In social or family life, everyone wants to make new friends with interesting and appropriately behaved people. In my consulting and training sessions, this is key, and also determines your differentiation factor from the rest of the masses.
Can you tell us about the trend of image consulting, and how people are increasingly getting into this as a profession?
Well, the trend of image consulting is extremely dynamic and promising. Though overseas it is a 40-year old industry, in India it is very much in its nascent stages. But we are definitely waking up to the need of image consultants. Today, India has global citizens and Indians are travelling overseas for studies and work more often than ever before. When you need to communicate with so many people you need to present yourself in the best light. Image consulting is a lifestyle science catering to a person’s goals and roles in life.
How and when did you get into image consulting?
I entered image consulting almost 1.5 years ago, after 15 years of corporate MNC experience, as I believed that I could assist others to understand communication patterns better. Thus ImagEmpower was founded. This venture provides training and consulting for individuals, corporates and educational Institutions. We specialise in personal branding in the online space.
Could you give us an insight into what exactly image consultants do? If someone wants to take it up as a profession, what kind of qualifications do they need?
You need to at least have your basic graduation which will help you at the base level. Any higher and additional qualification will always help to march ahead. Most importantly, one’s attitude needs to be dynamic and have an ever-learning mindset. An image consultant needs to be completely updated as per current trends and technology advances. As image consultants, we train, teach, counsel and speak at various forums, community gatherings about the work we do, which involves communication through clothing choices, colour psychology, body language, and non-verbal communication. We train on public speaking and presentation skills for professional and social enhancement too. All image consultants specialise in varied core fields, ranging topics from culture sensitization to social, business and dining etiquette. Many image consultants specialise in fashion styling, focusing on face and body shape analysis. Image consulting touches each and every part of one’s life and encompasses a varied range of areas which need to be appropriate in any situation given the individual’s roles and goals at the time.
• Interpersonal skills – being a team player, interview skills
• Team building and leadership
• Personal Hygiene, grooming and make-up
• Image positioning training
• Cross-culture sensitization
• Power of clothes, body and face shape, colour psychology
• Body language and gestures
• Social, dining, corporate and business etiquette
• Negotiation and effective communication
• Public speaking and presentation skills
• Perception management
THE LASTING IMPRESSION
Konkanaa Bakshe started Savoir Faire Academie in September 2013, a personality development and image enhancement platform that contours and customises topics of training based on individual requirements, our programmes help one maximise potential by helping overcome perceived shortcomings there by instilling confidence and increasing the rate of success. “I started by looking at the need of today’s business world,” she says, “India is fast emerging as a global power with international relationship. It’s always helpful to understand that relationship builds trust which transpire to collaboration and success.”
According to her, in today’s fast-paced society with multiple demands, it’s absolutely necessary to be intentional about using common courtesies in our everyday interactions. “Etiquette isn’t a set of prescriptions but merely the guidelines for doing things in ways that make people feel comfortable around you, it’s a way for your success how you win over the people around you with your graciousness and kindness.” She adds, “Your image reflects on the way you look and present yourself, the elegance lies in minimalism. Your first impression is the last call of your image. Be it an interview, or a presentation or your first date, the impression you cast will decide the result you will have.”
Volume 4 Issue 12