There are many things in life that we do not plan or prepare for. In most cases, these things become part and parcel of daily lives as business executives, and we are required to ‘go with the flow’. One of such things in life is etiquette. You do not plan for it, you do not necessarily prepare for it but when the need arises to display a knowledge of a certain culture based on a certain context, one has no choice but to simply adapt.
Good manners always trounce education or strategy, in a nutshell, you can never go wrong with good manners (or good etiquette) and these popular quotes back up the narrative.
- Friends and good manners will carry you where money will not go – Margaret Walker
- Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot – Clarence Thomas
- Whoever one is and wherever one is, one is always in the wrong if one is rude – Maurice Baring
- Manner are a sensitive awareness of the feeling of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use – Emily Post
- Good manners are just a way of showing other people that we have respect for them – Bill Kelly.
These wise words were captured in detail on the 27th of January 2022 during the brush-up week class titled Social Skills with Ngozi Prince. She took us in-depth on what skills we need to adopt to become better at what we do. Skills that will be recognized globally be it in politics, business, sports. Etc. These skills will make you stand out to your host or guests because as the saying goes.
“CULTURE EASTS STRATEGY FOR BREAKFAST”
WHAT IS ETIQUETTE?
Dictionary.com provides an encompassing definition to what this is below.
- conventional requirements as to social behaviour; proprieties of conduct as established in any class or community or for any occasion.
- a prescribed or accepted code of usage in matters of ceremony, as at a court or in official or other formal observances.
- the code of ethical behaviour regarding professional practice or action among the members of a profession in their dealings with each other:
Mrs Prince further breaks down etiquette into the following categories relative to human expressions.
- 7% from verbal message e.g., words used
- 38% from vocal tone, pairing and inflection
- 55% is from the speaker’s appearance and body language.
After this, the class then proceeded to dining etiquette which was something I particularly looked forward to considering that my type of business was bound to take me places I would be required to dine with people of different cultures. In dining, it is important to know some things once seated as there are a few pointers to help one make some basic deductions.
One of such is plate setting. In plate setting, you work your way from the outside in based on the arrangement of the cutlery. The glassware presented on the table gives an indication of what liquids will be available during the course and which to use for what. I have been guilty of using the wrong cutlery and glassware many times in my life, but such is unlikely going forward. The placement of the napkin on your laps on your lap instead of placing it around your neck is also very important.
One of the most interesting things we learned during this session was how to deal with bread. I am almost tempted to put a laughing emoji as no one seemed to get it right in class. All the days of my life, no thanks to my regular consumption of the local bread known as ‘Agege’ bread, I have always sliced the bread right down the centre and put the butter. Little did I know that this was simply unacceptable. The appropriate way to deal with this is to take a small scoop of the butter, place it on a knife, place the knife with the butter down (preferably on a plate). Cut a small part of the bread and apply the butter gradually to small cuts. How stressful but so classy and necessary.
The class also helped me understand how to deal with certain situations such as
- Removing unwanted food or bone from the mouth while at a table
- Dealing with accidents while dining
- Use of toothpick at the table
- Who to chat with and when to chat while chewing food
- The use of the napkin to pass on a message while leaving the table
- Buffet etiquettes
The essence of knowing proper etiquette cannot be overstated as was observed in two of the videos we watched during the class of top leaders where they both missed the mark. They were seriously hounded by the media for not knowing what to do at the right time. Simply put, it is worth knowing your host or guests before proceeding to any formal occasion.