Over the summer the BBC came to film one of our etiquette classes at Bryngwyn Hall, ancestral home of Lady Linlithgow. The series aired a couple of weeks ago to much acclaim.
Monday, October 29th, 2012
Friday, April 13th, 2012
You might have seen the BBC Breakfast show piece yesterday morning on coffee shop manners, in which our own William Hanson participated in a lively discussion about coffee shop manners.
Nowadays, we are all in such a supposed rush, and people think little about talking on their mobiles in public, texting, tweeting and checking emails. It is easy to get carried away when queuing, and waiting to be served for a takeaway coffee is no different. But surely we should remember that the people serving behind the counter deserve our respect too? It rarely is a matter of life and death whether we take a call, but if a really urgent call comes in just as you reach the head of the queue or whilst you are being served, either say ‘excuse me’ to the barista – first – and then ask the caller to wait for just a moment whilst you move to a quiet spot – or call them back within two minutes. Put yourself in the shoes of the barista. If you were serving behind a counter and a customer ignored you in favour of pushing buttons on his phone, wouldn’t you feel just a little miffed? Basic courtesies should follow every step: your order, paying, and then delivery. A simple please and thank you will do – no need to have a long discussion about global warming. When you have purchased your drink, sit down in a quiet corner and make the call, or better still go out of the coffee bar. As William’s co-guest said yesterday morning on the BBC, in the old days one might have read a newspaper instead of sending a text or email. Try it!
Talking of queueing, manners are deteriorating here too. They seem to go off the scale now as we wait in line and crowds increase, and particularly if we have a self regulating order and no barriers. Remember your manners on the move; queue quietly, in line and in an orderly fashion. You might even start up a conversation with someone and make a friend.
Treat others as you wish to be treated yourself, and have just a few minutes without being glued to the phone.
Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
I have been watching the excellent Andrew Marr-fronted documentary on the BBC ‘The Diamond Queen’. I realised very quickly my knowledge of Elizabeth II is coloured by events in my own life and I was on a journey of discovery about a lady that has been a constant thread.
The Queen was my father’s boss for 25 years, as he served in the Royal Air Force. Her likeness was on the coins I used to purchase my Saturday sweets and comics. She was even in the cinema with me, as the national anthem was played at the beginning of all films, when we were stationed abroad. I have seen her children get married and sadly divorced, the funeral of her mother and then the marriages of some of her Grandchildren. I have celebrated her Birthday and she was always at our house for Christmas Lunch at 3pm, punctual as ever.
I really feel I know her!
I was happily mistaken there is even more to this extraordinary gem of a woman. Elizabeth Alexandra Windsor is a person with many facets, an individual in her own right; a mother \ grandmother, indeed a great grandmother and the CEO of possibly one of the most unusual companies in the world!
During the first episode HRH The Duke of Cambridge reflects on how difficult it must have been at 25 years old to be the Monarch.
He smiles and replies with admiration in his voice, “It must have been very daunting to have all that responsibility placed on her in a time which was so male dominated.” Prince William goes on to say that his Grandmother is a true professional at her trade and knows how to engage with everyone to make them feel comfortable.”
Authenticity is a real gift; to make others feel valued reaps huge rewards for everyone. When we all take the time to be ourselves and listen we learn so much more. Winston Churchill was highly regarded by the Queen as a great orator who she said, ‘spoke in a romantic and glittering way.’ In their later dealings she discovered he was not such a good listener.
As Epictetus the Greek philosopher said, “We have two ears and one month so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
I think of all the people the Queen has had the privilege of meeting and they her: it is an illustrious list filled with Kings, Queens, Presidents, Prime Ministers, movie stars, artist, musicians and even us.
Prince Harry commented, “The Queen carries herself so well and has a smile that brings a room to life.” She brings to these events colour, confidence, poise and always a touch of humour. I love the fact that as a child when the young Elizabeth was told to read more, she chose to read comedies by P. G. Woodhouse.
As the programme continued I was totally unprepared at my reaction to a speech Elizabeth gave in South Africa when she was only 21. She read from the prepared script with such clarity of thought and dignity:
“I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great Imperial family to which we all belong, but I shall not have the strength to carry out this resolution alone unless you join in with me, as I now invite you to do. I know that your support will be unfailingly given. God help me to make good my vow and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it.”
As the words resonated in my head I could see how focussed and motivated she was in achieving her task, however still gracious enough to ask for support.
We all need help, support or a sounding board to enable us to be the best we can be. David Cameron, the present Prime Minister says of his weekly meetings with the Queen, “There is no-one else in the room just us, this makes me think more clearly and focuses my mind. She helps me to reveal my deepest thinking and worries about issues, that really helps you reach the answers. It is quiet simply always a frank, open and informative meeting.”
Most top CEO’s have a mentor that makes them accountable, keeps them focussed and motivated. As the programme draws to an end I realise with a smile, I have something in common with the Queen: I too do this for my clients.
Thursday, May 27th, 2010
Last night we had the third installment of The Junior Apprentice, the spin off of Lord Sugar’s The Apprentice. The programme is identical to the main show except that the candidates are ages 16 or 17 and are competing not for a job with the business tycoon but for a business bursary. A lot of the hopefuls have had experience running their own businesses or being involved in some way with the art of making money.
However, I have been continually taken aback at the poor standards of dress that most of the candidates have. The first person to get fired was a boy called Jordan. He wore possibly the shiniest suit imaginable. Such suits only look good on Saturday night television and if your name is Graham Norton – for some reason, Graham seems to be the only person able to get away with such an outfit. However, Jordan’s suit was a business/lounge suit and this made it look very cheap indeed.
But for this blog I shall focus on the third episode of the series.
There was one shot in the programme that showed Zoë, who clearly takes pride in her appearance (if a little too much), writing. As it was a close-up of her hand with a pen we could see her nails clearly. She was wearing nail polish but it had chipped and cracked and so it looked messy. If nail polish is going to be worn (whether in a business or social environment) then make sure it looks good and is perfect at all times. Regarding make-up, Zoë has a tendency to wear a bit too much (especially for a 16-year-old). She has pale skin and wears striking red lipstick, which set against her blonde hair does cause people to take note of her. In a throw-back to the 1980s, Zoë is clearly a big one for power-dressing, but more-often-than-not she just looks like she’s about to serve us drinks and tell us how to put on our life-vests.
Last night’s fired hopeful was Rhys. From episode one he was wearing shirts with collars that were far too big for him, and probably would have been too big for Pavarotti. Although many people complain that they feel restricted when wearing a collar and tie, if you are measured properly by any half-decent men’s outfitters for shirts then this will never be a problem. Rhys also committed the crime of colour-on-colour (in the case of episode 3, black-on-black). He wore a black shirt and a black tie. Never do this! Black shirts look awful full stop; black ties should be reserved for funerals – but really one should never wear the same coloured shirt as the tie (i.e. a plain pink tie would look silly when against a pink shirt).
There are so many things that annoy me about this candidate’s dress. He has clearly never heard of a razor. Beards are fine, however, Tim’s facial hair is not quite a beard. I would suggest that business people are clean-shaven (unless they are opting for a proper beard). Designer stubble (as he had yesterday – he had given his facial hair a minor trim) is not suitable for the boardroom. Tim also seems not to have heard of a top-button. He is an advocate of the loose-tie-open-top-button look, which, again, should not be found in business. It looks sloppy and lazy (although some may say this is a reflection of the boy’s attitude to business). Last night we saw a close up (for some reason) of Tim’s shoes and socks. He had chosen to wear a pair of green striped socks. You may expect me to slate this choice, but I actually condone it. I am a big fan of colourful socks and I feel that if done tastefully, a man can say a lot his personality through his socks: they give one a chance to show a bit of personality. That said, I have seen all too often people wearing white socks with business suits, which is something that just isn’t done. Socks (if plain and traditional) should match the colour of the shoe or of the trouser.
Finally, a word about Adam, who also left Lord Sugar’s boardroom last night. His tie was dreadful. The knot was too big, but also too loose. He was trying to go for the big footballer knot, but even so, it should have been tighter. Being able to tie a good tie is a life skill that sadly many are lacking. He also needed to make sure the tie was pulled up to the very top of the shirt. As you can just about see from his publicity picture, you could drive a bus between the top of the tie and the top button of his shirt.
The English Manner offers training in business protocol, which includes dress & appearance. To find out more, please contact us.
Tutor, The English Manner
Friday, April 30th, 2010
The last of the three UK leaders’ debates was always going to be about policy rather than performance. Both the politicians and the audience had got used to the format of these new debates and so, thankfully, we could all look past the smoke and mirrors and focus on what the parties were offering.
That said, the chairman of IPOS Mori said yesterday that a large majority of people do make their mind up as to whom to vote for based on style rather than substance: a reflection perhaps on the shallow times in which we now live.
So on that basis, here is my take on the performance and protocol from the final UK leaders’ debate.
The first gentleman we see is the chairman, David Dimbleby, who handled the proceedings much better than Messers Boulton and Stewart. However, Dimbleby had his jacket fastened incorrectly and it may be appropriate to just recap the rules when it comes to suit jacket buttons. If it is a three-button suit, just the middle button; if it is a two-button suit, just the top.
If the ties were competing last night, David Cameron’s would have won. It was a block colour (a strong blue – probably a conscious metaphor on his part) and worked well when set against the lurid pink and orange backdrop. A bold and strong colour always works best – power dressing: slightly retro, but in this case it worked. Nick Clegg’s orange number wasn’t working for me (although he had the better knot of the three leaders). In my opinion, orange and green ties never work. Gordon Brown’s tie was a muted purple with fine dots, and this would have been okay for day-to-day business but for such an important event, I did think that he (and Clegg) could have found about a thousand better ties to wear.
When the debate started, Clegg called his opponents by their full name ‘David Cameron and Gordon Brown’, there was no faux-chumminess here, like there was in the first debate. Nick Clegg probably used this tactic to separate himself from the others.
David Cameron was the first person to use an audience member’s Christian name, and it became obvious that he was emulating the tactic used by his Liberal rival from the first debate of looking directly into camera to address the audience at home, rather than in the chamber. Clegg did the same thing too, but used his hands much more, moving them towards the camera, drawing us into his way of thinking.
Language-wise, Gordon Brown used much more ministerial language, rather than the other two who went for more down-to-earth speech. Brown often used imperatives, such as ‘let’s be clear’, before addressing a point. This is something similar to what Tony Blair did during his premiership: he was very fond of saying ‘look’ before he addressed a question – but in the latter’s case it was often seen as patronising the audience or questioner.
Linguistically, Clegg used a trick of providing a layman’s explanation of some of the more complicated economic jargon. He told us “capital gains – that’s income to you and me”, this puts him on the level of the audience, a very clever tactic.
Where I felt he did slip us was his determination to address the camera. He would switch a bit too quickly from replying to the questioner from the audience to looking down the camera to the home audience. He did this a lot and it began to look phoney. Clegg also fell down during the economic part of the debate – he started to get a bit hot under the collar and this showed on his face.
Cameron used a minor expletive (‘damn’) to express one particular point; this did add emphasis. What a lot of people were saying on Twitter last night was that there were too many anecdotes from the leaders (Cameron and Clegg in particular) that started, “I recently visited a… ”.
So far in these blogs we haven’t referred to each of the leaders’ makeup. Particularly in the first debate, lots of people commented that Cameron was wearing lovely make-up, and it must be said, he did look the best out of the three of them. I don’t think Brown had very much on; he probably prefers to go for the grittier, natural man sort of look. Cameron’s chin could have done with a touch more powder – it did shine more and more as the debate progressed.
Last night, Cameron clearly won: the polls agree. He also wins our prize for best improvement. Clegg clearly won the first debate – wooing everyone with his charm and naturalness (the heir to Blair is how one Twitterer described him). The second debate had no clear winner but in the final one, Cameron pulled out all of the stops both politically and performance-wise. It will be interesting to see how the three parties do on Thursday.
Tutor, The English Manner