Britain is notoriously exacting when it comes to good manners. Polite society is governed by a code that remains largely uncracked by the uninitiated. Step in, Minding Manners International. This school teaches comprehensive courses in 21st century etiquette, taking into account the expanding horizons of an increasingly globalised world. A stone’s throw from London’s royal museums and just across the street from Kensington Palace, The Milestone Hotel & Residences is the perfect heart-of-town headquarters for the school’s five-day Finishing School programme: The Finishing Touch. Here, its founder, Tamiko Zablith, shares how we can master the art of good manners.
How has the digital age impacted politeness?
“Stating that technology is the reason people are impolite is like stating that spoons make us fat. It is how we use our technology (or our spoon) that matters. We seem to have lost our preference for communicating with the person in front of us, replacing face-to-face interaction with the virtual sphere. Manners are a form of communication and personal connection. When this is disrupted, as is the case so often when one is immersed in a device—for example, at the dining table during a family meal—this human connection is weakened.”
Do the same rules of etiquette apply in the 21st century as before?
“My favourite quote is from Maya Angelou: ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ I believe this epitomises the importance of etiquette. Being mindful of how our actions impact others’ feelings will always be relevant.
It is in our best interests to transcend the Golden Rule, which states that we should treat others as we would like to be treated. This assumes that everyone values the same interactions, which simply is not so. Rather, we need to embrace the Platinum Rule, which states that we should treat others the way they would like to be treated. Like all matters of communication, manners evolve and will continue to do so but people will always remember how you make them feel. Take time to make them feel heard, valued and special.”
What do your courses in 21st century etiquette offer?
“We offer international social and business etiquette programmes. Both provide delegates with enhanced self-confidence to know what to do, how to do it and why it is done in a certain way. I am passionate about cross-cultural relations and aim to bridge the gaps we often overlook. My role is to facilitate that understanding while delivering a highly enjoyable experience. For instance, when we cover dining etiquette, we do so over a six-course meal during which we address the differences in dining across Europe and North America.”
What would those differences be?
“One of my favourite examples is why, when dining in the UK and USA, we keep our hands on our lap when they are not in use. Doing so in France would garner suspicious glares, because in most of Continental Europe, one is expected to keep their hands on the table, in clear sight, at all times. One may feel that such a nuance is irrelevant today. However, if someone is distracted wondering why your hands are hidden or not, their attention is divided and suddenly your actions come under scrutiny. By understanding the various codes of international etiquette, we can ensure that we are being remembered for the right reasons.”
Check into Minding Manners International’s unrivalled 21st century etiquette classes the next time you stay at Red Carnation Hotels’ The Milestone Hotel & Residences.