Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW
Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW

Expert on social skills shares her knowledge with students


The art of etiquette and maximising social skills is a life-long challenge but it pays big dividends to those who are willing to put in the effort, according to professional training expert Carolyn Curro.

Mrs Curro, who is Chief Executive Officer at Confidence and Image Solutions, shared her knowledge and advice with residents of Warrane on 14 August 2013 in the lead-up to the College’s annual Ball.

Speaking to a packed main common room, Mrs Curro emphasised that the benefits of good manners and a refined approach to dealing with others extend well beyond social events.

She emphasised that as employees, all the students present would be invited out by their future bosses and that their conduct would be carefully observed.

“Rest assured that you will be watched,” she said. “You need to impress with your friendly, positive demeanour. Make eye contact, present a straight posture with your shoulders back and introduced yourself with a confident, friendly smile.”

Mrs Curro said in social situations it was important to be ready and willing to “actively listen to others before talking”.

“It doesn’t matter if your are a little nervous,” she said. “That is okay – it is all about how you present yourself.”

Mrs Curro gave Warrane residents advice on introducing themselves and others and the order in which people should be introduced. She spoke about the correct way to shake hands – firmly, but not too aggressively – about dress, grooming and dining etiquette.

She emphasised the importance of using the correct cutlery, working from the outside inwards, and not speaking with food in your mouth.

“Do your best,” she said. “It is not always possible to avoid speaking with food in your mouth, but the main thing is to be aware of it and do your best.”

Some inside tips included:

  • Don’t use a bread knife to cut a bread roll, but break it with your hands and then use the knife to add butter;
  • Butter should be transferred from the central place with the communal knife to your own bread plate and then spread with your own knife;
  • When eating soup always move the spoon away from you, rather than towards you, to avoid splashing on your clothes;
  • When meeting a woman it is acceptable to shake hands and to be the one to initiate a handshake. Kissing a woman on the cheek is reserved only for more established relationships.

Mrs Curro encouraged students to be sure to listen attentively to the young women they escorted and to be careful not to spoil the night by consuming too much alcohol.

She said as a rule it was important at social occasions to be ready to stop waiters from refilling your glass with alcohol by placing your hand over the glass.

“Know your own limits with alcohol,” she advised. “It is very important to have self-mastery in this area. It is a very attractive thing for a woman. Know you much to drink and how much to eat. If you drink too much, the alcohol is controlling you.

“You want the young lady to have the best experience of you, so don’t over drink or over eat.” Mrs Curro emphasised the importance of being extra careful with alcohol for those intending to drive afterwards.

[Warrane College offers more than just accommodation to students at UNSW: Details of other guest speakers are available here]