According to ballet school owner Jean Wong, having good manners and observing proper etiquette are not affectations but consideration for others. 'It reflects your upbringing and background,' she says. In fact, Jean took it so seriously that she organised courses to teach children and teenagers the finer points of using the right cutlery and gift-giving. That was 12 years ago. 'It all started when a group of my friends felt their children ought to learn how to behave properly in public,' Jean says. 'When I looked into it, I realised that there was a real need for such a course.' Now, Jean holds three-hour seminars at Christmas and during summer that cover issues such as the correct use of toothpicks and how to dress for a wedding. Most of the dos and don'ts are based on Western-style etiquette but Jean adds some Chinese tips. 'Chinese table manners are very different from the Western ones,' she says. There are also other differences between Chinese and Western ways. One example is opening gifts - Western custom allows the recipient to open the gift in front of the giver, but in Chinese custom this is a no-no. Furthermore, the Chinese rule out gifts such as clocks, bells and knives. Jean says the Hong Kong rat-race is to blame for the lack of manners here. 'We are all in a rush here and good manners disappear because people are impatient.'