Sunday, June 2, 2013

Respect is a Verb

In response to a request, I am putting together a presentation on etiquette in the business world. I usually dread such sessions as I find it amazing that grown up people who have had an education and have been successful in getting employment, don't know how to behave. I feel a bit silly being paid to address the topic and wonder if it is a genuine need or the desire of someone else (a manager) to impose their rules of behaviour. Etiquette is a term that refers to behaviour in polite society and it seems that people have forgotten how to be polite. Perhaps because I am reflecting on and exploring this topic, I have been more aware of manners or rather the lack of them in the last couple of weeks. "Manners maketh man" seems to belong to an era long ago when the motto was chosen by William of Wykeham for the school he founded – Winchester. Thank Heavens that we are not governed any more by the strict code of conduct enforced by the Victorians but this phrase is as true today as it ever was. You can tell a lot about a man or a woman by the way they behave and communicate and even more by observing them when they are angry or upset. Here are some of the things that I have witnessed lately that have convinced me that it is necessary to have this discussion with working 'adults' :-

  • People arriving after late at the movies today who just trampled past me while making their way along the row to their seats - no "excuse me" or "thank you" and talking as they went despite the movie having started.
  • Knives and forks just abandoned on plates or sometimes next to them - instead of being placed neatly together at the end of a meal.
  • Courtesy in shops is declining at an alarming rate - no greetings and a lack of please and thank you.
  • It was so nice to have the door held open this week while entering a company. While etiquette is almost dead, chivalry is on life support!
  • The Telegraphs writes about it here.
  • Mobile phones are really not to be answered when enjoying a meal with  guests and the side plate is not meant to hold yours! 
  • In fact if you are in a restricted place with another person, like a lift or car you really should ask their permission to answer your phone.
  • When do you stop reminding people to switch off their phones? It should be common sense to switch them off in class, church or the theatre!
  • A "high five" may be acceptable when with your bro' but it doesn't belong in the boardroom or the office.
  • I was taught at school to keep strong opinions about what I dislike - particularly about food to myself - Its just not polite to say you 'hate' something or that it is "gross". One mans meat is another mans poison was the term used at school.
  • Lets not go into snorting, grunting, coughing all over people and not covering your mouth when yawning - I am shaking my head!
These are just a few of the things that I have noticed in the past week that have convinced me that it is necessary to remind people about courtesy. I don't come from a wealthy family, nor did I go to a Public School but I was raised to be kind, considerate and respectful. Etiquette is a combination of all these ....and respect is a verb!

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