On this episode of the Carlsbad People, Purpose, and Impact Podcast, etiquette expert Elaine Swann speaks with Bret Schanzenbach. Elaine has appeared on Dr. Oz, CNN, Access Hollywood, and Fox News, consults for pageants, and leads the Swann School of Protocol where she helps people enhance their self-esteem and self-confidence. Although people may be familiar with her on TV, many may not realize that she grew up in Oceanside and now resides in Carlsbad.
Not only is Elaine Swann the author of multiple books, she also teaches various etiquette courses and offers a certification program, so that others can start their own Swann Schools of Protocol to uplift and impact their communities. She’s here today to talk about the power of etiquette and offers tips for how people can gracefully navigate interactions in a post-COVID world.
From Shyness to Strength: How Elaine Swann Established the Swann School of Protocol
Oceanside native and etiquette expert, Elaine Swann, credits becoming involved in etiquette with her parents. She was very shy as a child, so they sent her to Sears Charm School in order to equip her with the tools she would need to succeed in the world. However, what really caused her to grow in her self-esteem and self-confidence was when she competed in pageants.
Later, as an adult, she became a flight attendant at Continental Airlines and went through their International Etiquette and Protocol Training. Due to her connections back home in Southern California, Elaine was eventually asked by a local sorority to provide etiquette training to the girls for their upcoming debutante ball. She volunteered with the sorority for five years. Then, an Oceanside middle school principal asked if she was interested in being paid to do an afterschool program. This opportunity led to multiple referrals, which allowed Elaine to teach etiquette in schools throughout the area.
Alongside her career as a flight attendant, Elaine also owned two other businesses. Her entrepreneurial spirit was ignited by the recognition that teaching etiquette could be a business. “At my core, I'm a business-woman. And so, I thought, ‘Well, you know, how am I going to make more money?’ So, I started to look at the various ways that I could serve individuals and help them with whatever pain point they were experiencing,” she explains.
As a result, she closed her businesses and opened the Swann School of Protocol in June of 2003. From there, she has developed various courses, consults for large corporations, helps prepare Miss California for the Miss America Pageant, and speaks all over the country.
However, Elaine has never forgotten how it all began: “If it wasn't for these years of me volunteering and… helping these young girls with their self-esteem and their self-confidence, it really would not have turned into a business for me. And it's been so rewarding.”
Charting a Course at the Swann School of Protocol
There are a variety of courses offered at the Swann School of Protocol, including Body Language and Posture, the Art of the Business Meal, Chivalry in the Workplace, Profitable Networking, and many more!
Particularly, as a natural introvert, Elaine empathizes with individuals who find it challenging to network at large events. “There’s a difference between feeling comfortable and appearing confident. You're not always going to feel comfortable, but I help people appear confident regardless of how they're feeling,” she says. “A lot of times, if we have the skills and we have the tools and we know exactly what to do in a given social situation, [we have] the appearance of confidence, and then… you can just let your own light shine.”
A powerful, applicable rule that Elaine suggests using at your next networking event is the “5/10 Rule.” The strategy is simple: if someone is 10 feet away, you meet their eyes and smile, and you do not have to speak to them, but if someone is 5 feet away, you should stop and engage in conversation with them.
If you’d like to learn more tips for interpersonal communication and self-improvement, you can pick up one of Elaine’s fantastic books: Girls Have Style, The Etiquette Advantage Institute: Technology Today, and Let Crazy Be Crazy.
Currently, at the school’s headquarters in Carlsbad, the Swann School of Protocol leads cotillion, an afterschool program that runs throughout the school year. This program helps kids learn manners, communicate effectively, increase their emotional intelligence, and navigate interpersonal relationships.
Elaine also provides a nationwide program for anyone who wants to become an Etiquette Consultant and Swann School Owner. Due to this program, there are over 20 independently-owned and operated Swann Schools across the United States. This program provides individuals with the opportunity to have the freedom to create their own schedule, work from home, impact their community, and make money—all at the same time.
“It’s really, really great, especially now with this whole exodus of folks leaving their jobs, and so we really want to be of service to individuals, especially teachers who are saying, ‘You know what, I want to do something else. Why not teach in this area?’” Elaine explains. “We're so excited about continuing to expand in this area to help individuals take that power back and have the freedom to work their own schedule and make money, but then still have a great impact in their community.”
If you’re interested in becoming an Etiquette Consultant and Swann School Owner, you can find out more here!
Navigating the Post-COVID World with Grace and Etiquette
With the ever-changing guidelines surrounding COVID, it can be extremely difficult to navigate social situations. Masks, vaccinations, and proximity are polarizing topics of conversation and can have a great impact on relationships.
Elaine’s goal is to help people navigate these difficult situations and ensure everyone maintains their relationships. For her, the way to do this is by honoring the three core values of etiquette: Respect, Honesty, and Consideration.
For example, when it comes to events where the vaccine is required (or not), Elaine advises that instead of asking someone’s vaccine status, people should rephrase the question by inquiring how they feel about the vaccine. Regardless of people’s stance on vaccines, masks, or physical contact, she believes that the way to continue the relationship is by respecting that person’s position and pivoting within the conversation.
“Keep the conversation going, don't sit and drill them and ask them why and tell them why you think it's okay or not,” she says. “The goal is to make sure that on the other end of all of this that our relationships are intact.”
Certainly, we can all learn a lot from Elaine’s insights.
Did you like what you heard? This show is produced by Imagine Podcasting dba Heard Not Seen Media, Inc. For more, visit Imagine Podcasting’s website.