From time to time I consult with young girls on etiquette and decorum. I usually get a frantic phone call from their mother’s asking me to turn myself into a finishing school for a weekend. Truthfully, I love doing it even though my schedule gets a bit manic because the young ladies are so receptive to learn. I teach them the correct social skills for the environment that they are in. I think this is so salient because many conservative ideals of etiquette are derived from traditions past and don’t relate to the zeitgeist of today. I infuse manners, social skills, style, make-up, work attire and basic dining decorum in a way that these young women comprehend and actually seem to enjoy, also keeping in form with traditional methods in my consulting. I do however understand the generation and the need for flexibility to cope with newly emerging branches of proper etiquette that the digital world poses challenges to. It’s beneficial to be affluent in the realm of social media and my background in the arts, style, and beauty industry prove to be of tremendous use when I am explaining proper etiquette. This definitely helps the girls find it easy to relate to me and that’s the first step in helping them help themselves in a world that is very quickly losing the ability to command and utilize a good set of manners.
I’ve seen the most abhorrent manners coming from people of great wealth and a good family background, so it’s not a question of how a person was raised and where they went to school. The importance of good decorum and basic skills of etiquette can easily be learned but the problem lies in the lack and desire to apply them. It is nothing short of befuddling when an individual is getting a chance to be the best version of him or herself and is failing to do so.
Here are some of the topics we’ve covered and discussed at length:
On Technology and Decorum.
Technology has changed and affected the way that so many people communicate. There is a whole emerging generation that has been raised with a screen in their hands and while I’m all for the progress of technology and learning to adapt to its instantaneous changes, something human gets lost in the process and that is predominately the art of communication. It’s not anybody’s fault really, we live in an age of instant gratification and don’t have the patience to impress the importance of proper decorum upon us. I don’t begrudge parents either, they’re part of this growing age of technology and it can be quite confusing. I think there has to be an understanding that some basic human traits will always be required when you’re communicating with others. The environment most definitely changes and decorum certainly has to be restructured to adapt to those modifications, for example, cell phone and social media etiquette. The old testament of good manners needs a little updating for sure, I mean, I don’t think anyone really wants to learn how to cut a banana with a fork and knife anymore albeit, it’s pretty interesting but there has to be a foundation of proper conduct when engaging socially. It’s also something one cannot fabricate. You’ve got to really incorporate it into all that you do and that’s a whole new level of humanness in a world of tech. Basically, a younger generation has to want to learn it and learn it in a way that they understand and like it.
Most courses in decorum are archaic, and don’t really relate to the students and that’s where the problem lies. The young girls I consult with have an entirely different social environment than the women twenty some years ago did and so I naturally have to adapt to that. Being constantly aware of what is current really helps with this process because the girls feel that I can connect to them and when I can’t, I learn how to. This helps immensely when I’m explaining the proper way to conduct themselves in certain situations. Trust me, good manners are rare and they will open many doors for the decorum infused. You can have people with specific skill sets and many degrees but if they don’t know how to interact and have the ability to possess charming manners, those doors won’t open at all. I have known of quite a few companies that will employ the person with the most propriety and ability to communicate than someone with a perfect GPA, insipid personality and a few degrees in their hands.
Communication is essential. Socializing and knowing how to converse and behave in a pleasing manner goes hand in hand with proper etiquette. While many people think it’s ok to get away with a certain air of casualness, whether in business, social or work settings, it’s simply not. Justifying that your peers harbor the same level of nonchalance is not benefitting to you or them in any way. If you don’t know how to sit across someone and speak well, eat well and earnestly want to improve how you interact and communicate, you will always be stuck in the same type of social circle and be unable to grow and achieve greater things. Ultimately, you are your tribe. Your casualness and nonchalance may charm people in the beginning but it will soon get tired and boring. Charisma is not just an inherent trait but it can also be one that is learned. People are constantly evolving and not just digitally, developing personally is just as important.
N.B: You cannot make someone want to better him or herself; they have to want to learn. People say a lot of unacceptable things and think it’s tolerable because no one is protesting. Maybe so, possibly because others are so busy looking at their phones to notice.
The thing with social media is that it inspires or evokes in others a right to give their criticism and opinion on something and someone. I don’t agree with that. I find social media beneficial for helping businesses grow, being able to be in touch with their customer directly and also to advertise. Customer service issues are known and addressed right away which I think is brilliant but on a personal level what gives anybody the right to criticize what they see on-line? Here’s my take when you read a blog, an article, watch a YouTube video or whatever it is that you’re looking at: If you don’t like it, don’t look at it. So long as the person providing the information isn’t breaking the law, not violating human rights and so forth, however annoying it is, your opinion isn’t required unless the person themselves asked for it. That’s a huge issue for me. Also, it takes someone with tremendous patience and decorum to walk away from hateful situations without tainting their own disposition. In other words, they have the ability to quietly treat you with grace when you have wronged them. This is the epitome of elegance. There is so much unwarranted criticism and hate that social networking has become such a negative outlet for so many people. Give reproof when it is asked for. People are mistaken into thinking that their unsolicited opinions may be valid, they are not. Information, for the most part is out there to be of use to someone, a customer, client, or on a personal motivational level. What you see is highly subjective because it becomes a question of personal taste. If you are standing in a museum and don’t quite understand the art you’re looking at, appreciate it and move on. No one cares if you think it was painted badly, no one asked you. This is the ultimate problem with me on-line. It could be art, literature or a personal blurb or preference in question. Just because someone is making it our business to know about it, doesn’t mean we should comment on it if there is nothing pleasant to say. Family, unfortunately, is always the exception.
I totally understand the temptation to post your opinion, I really do, I mean the platform is practically asking for it, but so what? Ask yourself if it’s necessary and is that really where you want to fuel your energy? There’s always a right place and time to offer your opinion. Why reprimand someone you don’t know for opposing views? It’s cowardly because you are essentially hiding behind a screen and know that you probably wouldn’t single someone out that you don’t know and have a go at them in public.
Yes, we’re inundated with images, certain celebrities that we’re sick of seeing, but they wouldn’t be on any of our screens if someone else were not interested. So respect the right others have to their own opinions even if you don’t like them. That is proper decorum. Pigs swim in the mud, you don’t have to.
There certainly is a lot of jealously because of social networking. I read somewhere that haters will not hate you from afar; they’re usually the ones to buy the front seat to your show. It’s sad that we cannot be happy for others. One example is the sharing of personal wealth online via social media. If you’re protesting right now, get over it. It’s inevitable and it’s been happening for ages and ages, although, before it was through certain magazine circulations for the wealthy that were usually bought by the commiserating wealthy. There’s just a grander voice of protestation now because the public has the means to scream out loud on line. If you don’t like what you see, don’t look, simple as that. I don’t believe in judging anyone and jealousy stems from deep, deep insecurity. If someone is proud of their success and it inspires others or simply peaks ones curiosity then what’s the issue? Who is anyone to say it’s wrong? Are you upset because someone is screaming look what I have and you don’t? Grow up. We’ve lived and are still participating in a society that has built itself on a hierarchy of consumerism for decades, so why blame Instagram? When we pass by mansions or people driving cars that cost more than our homes do we leave post-it’s telling them they’re showing off? If we all just stopped and appreciated what we have, because there is always something to be grateful for, this kind of negativity wouldn’t be so prevalent. Also, I’m a firm believer that anyone can have anything they set their mind to, so focus less on being jealous and motivate yourself to work harder to attain those ideals if that’s what you want.
N.B: If you are a sensitive sharer, then keep your settings on private and your feelings will remain intact. When you post things on public settings you’re asking for it from those who lack tact. Truthfully, no one really cares if you’re flying with pets on your lap, sipping champagne on a private jet with your four Birkin’s, or even worse what you’re eating. Like Banksy said, invisibility is a superpower.
* Bragging is never ok. Sharing your lifestyle is. Yes, there is a difference.
These are magical words. I cannot stress the importance of saying thank you, I’ll touch more of that in the next blog, but for now I’ll say that those two words are possibly the most important ones in the world. (Aside from shoe sale) You cannot escape how utterly global the world is and there is absolutely no excuse for not replying to a message, a follow-up after a meal, outing, favour, gift, email or phone call, especially when you’re active on social media. Take the time to thank someone and mean it.
Look at people…
Sometimes our politeness is mistaken as a form of flirtation, it should not be. Please look into someone’s eyes when you speak to them, it’s rude not to acknowledge the person standing in front of you. When you look into peoples eyes you are appreciating who they are. Someone had once told me when you thank someone, look into his or her eyes; it makes a massive difference in effective communication. Some cultures pose exceptions, such as to look into a woman’s eyes is a faux pas, but lucky for us we are in the land of the free and it is the singular most effective way of communicating. Look at people and acknowledge their being.
Lastly and most importantly…
Upgrade your internal hardware.
Not having a good social skill set will irritate others, I know it annoys me because I’m constantly evolving and wanting to better myself, adapting to newer ways and adjusting decorum to fit snugly around that. In fact, you’ll find that it bothers many people because it shows them that you’re not willing to improve and people will take notice. Imagine your iPhone, it has constant updates and your apps receive them to fix bugs too don’t they? Why do you hit update? You want the best version of what you have and want the app to work smoothly. With humans there is always room for improvement. Why wouldn’t you want to upgrade your social hardware? It’s interesting; we seem to modernize everything to suit our current environment, so why not our manners?
If we get complacent we will never evolve. Don’t get stuck on I am what I am. If cavemen had said that we would still be wearing loincloths, not brushing our teeth, having body odour and eating with food dribbling down our chins whilst squatting on a rock. Even animals evolve with their environments and something as manmade as technology evolves, so are we that ignorant to think that we shouldn’t either? Everyone can benefit from being a better version of him or herself. Kindly do take some inspiration from your phone.
To be continued…