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ELS Welcomes Joy Weaver

By Brett Wilson | May 14, 2014

Joy Weaver.
Photo courtesy of Alex Perry.

When Joy Weaver, speaker, author and etiquette expert, addressed her first group of clients—employees of the world's largest construction firm—she overheard one particularly burly worker grumble, "I don't need no etiquette class." And after a mere three days of presentations and tips for developing "soft skills," she found the construction employees engaging in her lessons and being transformed.

Thirteen years have passed since her inaugural etiquette lesson. But on Wednesday, May 14, Weaver delivered "soft skill" tips with the same dedication to excellence to nearly 350 attendees of Regent University's final Executive Leadership Series (ELS) luncheon for the 2013-2014 season at the Founders Inn and Spa.

Weaver took her audience through the basics of social etiquette: wearing nametags with large, discernible lettering on the right side of clothing; conducting handshakes with a grasp that clasps from "web-to-web" of the hand; and even practicing how to applaud properly.

"We're working on polishing from the inside out," said Weaver. "Because, if you can't get the basics right, you can't do the big things right."

In the business world, knowing and performing these soft skills well can set workers apart from the competition and give them an "edge" among business peers. It can even help maintain a healthy working relationship with office-mates.

Weaver referred to a Harvard Business School study that reported 70 percent of job-related stress is caused by poor people skills and fellow workers. Forty percent of employees working under the duress of their socially-inept peers wind up changing jobs.

"It's not about the jobs we have most of the time," said Weaver. "We can have a job that we love, but it's the people we work with that make them difficult."

Weaver explained that employees who wind up switching jobs or occupations because of difficulties with their coworkers struggle with the same people in their new jobs. They just have different names. This is an attitude that Weaver hopes to correct.

"Life is like a fine dance," said Weaver. "Can we try to learn this dance without stepping on one another's toes?"

This dance, according to Weaver, also relates to customer service excellence. She explained that 68 percent of consumers who experience poor customer relations find alternative business to satisfy their needs. Her advice for the easiest ways to keep customers around is simple.

"Just make the other person feel like they are important and they will love you," said Weaver. "Relationships are important, and we build them by being the best that we can be."

This is the message that Weaver has carried with her throughout her entire career, having experienced first-hand what a difference these "tips" can make.

One year after her first day on the training circuit as an etiquette expert, she received a call from a woman who was pursuing Weaver's training for her company. Weaver inquired how the woman had heard of her services.

"Her family had just returned from a cruise, and they sat down at this intricate dinner and didn't know what knives or forks to use," said Weaver. "Until her son-in-law stood up and exclaimed, 'I know! I can give you all 'dining 101.'"

The woman's son-in-law was the same "burly construction employee" who resisted learning etiquette skills on her very first day on the training circuit. Weaver has been sharing that story throughout her tenure as the nation's leading expert on business etiquette and customer service, and it still "gives her chills" every time she tells it.

"This is what it was supposed to do, it was supposed to make a difference," said Weaver. "We are all like diamonds; we have basic values but it isn't until we are polished that our true worth is recognized."

Regent's Executive Leadership Series will resume in September 2014 and will feature former Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, on Friday, Sept. 19. Visit the ELS website for more information about the series.

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Mindy Hughes, Public Relations

Phone: 757.352.4095 Fax: 757.352.4888

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