Rotarians learn how to listen to each other

Published 8:49 pm Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Allyson Whittaker, a certified etiquette consultant, came to Rotary Tuesday and addressed many of the “soft skills” needed in order to be successful in today’s world.

Whittaker, a teacher at Grace Christian Academy, also offers individual classes through her Southwest Georgia Protocol School that meets on alternate Sundays at the Firehouse Gallery from August through March.

One of the topics she explored was the excessive use of electronics by all, but especially by today’s youth. After finding cell phones to be a big distraction in the classroom, she began collecting them at the door before class and returning them at the end.

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“You would have thought I was removing a vital organ,” she quipped. But, after a few weeks she noticed the students became more focused in class and admitted it wasn’t so bad being without them for a class period.

She cited studies that speak of the constant use of electronic devices as being hazardous to the health of children. It can increase attention deficit, obesity and even addiction, among others.

“When we are focused down instead of up, we miss a lot,” she advised, and proffered her belief that it is ruining our ability to communicate with others.

Some of the things she teaches are: the proper way to make an introduction, how to shake hands, how to respond in a receiving line, writing thank you notes, the right way to make a phone call, and above all else teaching that life is, “Not all about Us. It’s about others.”

She then invited the Rotarians to pair off and participate in a listening exercise, where one person spoke for 30 seconds, then the partner had to play back what they heard.

She uses games such as these, plus dancing, in her classes and finds that the children enjoy it when they are having fun.

The classes are open to those from age eight to adult, and she invites all to view her Facebook page about the classes.