Local consultant hosts etiquette classes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 19, 2006

After sending out invitations to her son&8217;s wedding, Linda Burell of Pelham was surprised when many would-be guests did not RSVP. But when Burell mentioned this to her coworkers, one woman told her, &8220;That&8217;s old-fashioned. You don&8217;t have to do that anymore.&8221;

Burell didn&8217;t agree, and the situation sparked a newfound interest in etiquette. Upon retiring from her telecommunications career, she attended The Protocol School of Washington and became an etiquette and protocol consultant. Her new undertaking, she said, would allow her to help people be respectful and considerate in today&8217;s hectic world.

Based in Shelby County, Burell conducts etiquette seminars for Birmingham-area children, teens, college students, and adults.

Through games and role-playing, five-to-seven-year-olds learn about proper introductions, sharing, and setting the table, and according to Burell, the results are impressive.

&8220;Five-year-olds can come into a class timid and mumbling, and by the time they leave they&8217;ll stand up straight, shake hands and speak clearly,&8221; she said. &8220;Some have even been known to tell their parents what they&8217;re doing wrong!&8221;

Eight to 12-year-olds brush up topics such as manners, dining skills and public speaking, while teens tackle skills relevant to their lifestyles, including cell phone etiquette and proper behavior at the movies.

For college students and adults, Burell holds courses on conversation skills, networking, making first impressions, international protocol and more.

Burell&8217;s innovative and fun approach to etiquette training has gained her many fans.

Karen Apel, mom of Katherine, 6, and Austin, 8, said Linda&8217;s training instilled confidence in her children. &8220;This helped them feel more comfortable in a social environment, and I saw my daughter grow out of her shyness,&8221; she said. &8220;They also had a lot of fun.&8221;

Dr. Nancy Bell, a professor of at the University of Montevallo, said students in her business professional development course benefit greatly from Linda Burell&8217;s business lunch. &8220;Fast food is a way of life today, and it&8217;s common to feel insecure at a formal meal,&8221; Bell said. &8220;Linda helps the students&8217; confidence levels immensely. She can answer any of their questions, whether it&8217;s who takes the first bite or how to handle the check.&8221;

Burell enjoys her career &045; especially when she sees the difference etiquette training can make in her clients&8217; lives. &8220;It&8217;s very satisfying to know you&8217;re helping someone with their future,&8221; she said.

As for the subject that inspired her career as an etiquette consultant, Burell offered this advice: &8220;You should always respond quickly to an invitation, even if it says &8216;regrets only,&8217; you should call the hostess and tell her that you look forward to attending.&8221;

Burell&8217;s next course, Modern Manners for Children (a five-class series for youngsters ages 5 to 7), will be held at the Helena Public Library beginning September 21. Visit www.lindaburell.com to check the class schedule, learn more about specific programs or contact Linda Burell