how to win friends and influence people
September 20, 2005 11:33 PM   Subscribe

Charm school -- is there such a thing?

In many a movie our hero is coached by a wise old lady or gentleman toward having impeccable social graces. He or she develops a keen wit, an even temperament, and dazzling charisma.

Is this sort of service offered anywhere or by anyone in real life? I have recently come into a subtantial chunk of money and am fantasizing on ways in which I can spend it usefully. This may be one of them if it isn't too far fetched. I'm not talking about Dale Carnegie or other very basic sort of seminars -- been there and done that.
posted by randomstriker to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Image consultant is the current lingo.

I start next month.

Some would say, not soon enough. ;-P
posted by mischief at 11:43 PM on September 20, 2005

I did a search and found an image consultant in Vancouver, Randomstriker. And I've heard that Gordon Campbell, Preston Manning and Stockwell Day all went to image consultants. Bill Vanderzalm's image consultant's work was famous enough to make it into my university communications textbook, although they didn't specifically note the consultant. (FWIW, I imagine politicians of all stripes use image consultants, not just the right-wingers.) Some image consultants probably run charm schools, but under a more current title.
posted by acoutu at 11:57 PM on September 20, 2005

Yes, any reputable image consultant can help you spend that money with lifestyle analysis as well as etiquette lessons, etc.

Or you could just buy a bunch of Cary Grant films and watch them over and over and over.
posted by FlamingBore at 12:21 AM on September 21, 2005

There's an etiquette school here in Maine: The Protocol School of Washington. I've been told it's very good. Thank you.
posted by SteveInMaine at 2:49 AM on September 21, 2005

First off, I'm not going to anyone that calls themselves and image consultant. Please!

Next, taste, temperament, wit and charm are not actually things you can learn in a school. Manners you could. Charm school may teach you how to sit or how to sip tea, but it will not make you Cary Grant.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:25 AM on September 21, 2005

It'd be a bit of a commute for you, but here in Athens, GA, there is a bona fide charm school named Perfectly Polished.
posted by ewagoner at 6:36 AM on September 21, 2005

Perhaps in addition to going to a charm school or image consultant you might want to do some work on your own to acquire that social polish you want. Read Miss Manner's books, which are both a delight and an education in themselves. Study argument and rhetoric and the art of conversation. Read widely so that you will have something to talk about. Educate your tastes in whatever directions interest you. Then entertain and go out socially and put what you have learned in practice.
posted by orange swan at 7:01 AM on September 21, 2005

Oh, and if you can find anyone to use as a model, study them. Don't try to be them, but feel free to borrow whatever suits you and adapt it to your own purposes.
posted by orange swan at 7:05 AM on September 21, 2005

I think the Googleable phrase you are looking for is finishing school. There are a few international schools listed on that Wikipedia page. In the US a lot of times you will see these sorts of programs rolled into modelling schools. In India they can be called "personality development centres". Or you can just go to MIT.
posted by jessamyn at 7:25 AM on September 21, 2005

"taste, temperament, wit and charm are not actually things you can learn in a school"

I disagree, taste is absolutely learnable. It is just a matter of knowing the rules of what goes with what and how much. It may, depending on your point of view, also involve knowing what is high quality/high class and what isn't but this is also easy to pick up. It's not rocket science.

Temperament and charm are a bit harder to learn, but (it seems to me that) this is mostly because we find it unusual to actively try to mold our own personality. However, a person can certainly learn how to maintain their composure in polite society (temperament) and how to be agreeable (charm).

Wit, is perhaps the hardest to learn. Just remember that being witty does not require you to rise to the heights of Samuel Clemens or Dorothy Parker. A timely observation or memorized joke will often do if one is not quick-witted by nature.
posted by oddman at 9:59 PM on September 21, 2005

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