Source: ASTD.COM

Eyring is an expert in protocol and etiquette services and was the first civilian chief of protocol at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, where she planned and directed military, government, international, and civic ceremonies; conferences; special events; and Presidential visits. She has presented seminars and briefings to a vast number of audiences, including corporate and government executives, Fortune 500 companies, and academia.

Eyring also has a monthly advice column in the Washington Business Journal called Biz Etiquette, and has been featured in national publications such as The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Eyring is an active member of Protocol and Diplomacy International—Protocol Officers Association, the International Public Management Association for Human Resources, Meeting Professionals International, and ASTD. She also serves on the board of directors of Business for Diplomatic Action.

Q| What was your first job, and what lesson did you take away from it?

My first job was working with my mother at a restaurant as a hostess. I worked on the weekends during the lunchtime rush, seating and greeting people. That was my first experience with customer service, and my mother taught me how to be polite to customers. She taught me how to give eye contact and smile, how to make small talk while I was seating customers, and how to say courtesies such as “Enjoy your lunch,” or “Good afternoon.”

I think I was 12. When my mother would get her tips, she would give me all her change. That was my comic book money, as I recall. I think the big lesson from that was I learned how hard my mother worked as a waitress. I had a very high respect for waitresses and waiters in the service industry.

Q| Could you briefly explain what constitutes protocol and etiquette services?

Protocol consists of the rules that dictate our behaviors in society. Many times, people think it only applies to military and diplomatic circles, but it really goes back to the caveman days when he who was the mightiest made the rules. We’ve thankfully become more of a civilized world, but now there are rules as to how we engage in business or our social lives. In other words, there are guidelines that help us prevent issues or chaos. Protocol is the science behind those rules.

The etiquette side of it is more the art, and it’s how you take the aforementioned rules and portray them in your behaviors. So if the business rule is to greet each person as you meet him with a handshake, it’s how you deliver that handshake, how you give eye contact, how you smile, and whether you shake his hand if he’s from another country. It’s having that highly skilled ability to portray those rules.

Q| How did you first become interested in protocol and etiquette services?

I was 18 years old when I began working at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, and I was going to night school at the same time. A friend suggested that I apply to her job as a protocol assistant, and I remember asking her, “What’s protocol?”

She emphasized all the glamour of planning special events and ceremonies for the four-star general, as well as the purchasing of gifts and mementos and meeting people from all over the world. I was excited, so I applied, and I got the job. But what she didn’t tell me was how hard we had to work. She forgot to tell me that when you’re planning all these special events and ceremonies, you’re not invited to the event—you’re working it. I worked mostly 60 to 70 hours a week, including nights and weekends, but I loved it.

I worked my way up the protocol ladder, and became the first civilian chief of protocol for a major command. Usually this position was held by a military personnel member.

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