Three highlights from my career in etiquette
Written by Diana MatherThe English Manner, The UK’s Leading Etiquette and Protocol Training Institute 310 310
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I’ve been lucky enough to teach social etiquette courses, elocution lessons and business protocol classes in London and around the world for over twenty-five years. Here are some of my career highlights – which hopefully gives an outline as to what an etiquette expert does.
I was among the first to help politicians improve their overall performance when the UK Parliament was first televised in 1989. Most MPs were very apprehensive about cameras in the Chamber – no more snoozing, picking their noses or reading the paper during debates. Most MPs were men in those days, so we did train more men than women. Although some were ‘old hands’ at the political game, they took on board the importance of making a positive impression through body language, hair and dress, especially colour, to stand out and be visible to their constituents. The late David Amess was a new MP then and needed a little help in sartorial elegance. Clare Short was resistant, to begin with, but when I saw her on TV, she had taken on board most of what I had said.
China was a very different place at the end of the twentieth century than today, with more Hutongs and few of the shiny new skyscrapers we see today, and there were more bicycles than cars on the road. The handover of Hong Kong to China had only taken place a year before, and the British way of life hadn’t changed. I taught the Western way of greeting using eye contact and the correct handshake as well as British dining skills. Very few people spoke English in China and finding good interpreters was difficult. Quite the opposite in Hong Kong, where English was widely used.
I worked in Iran in 2017 teaching Western Business Etiquette. It was Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, and as most hotels and businesses were closed for a few days, I worked in our new partner’s apartment, which meant I got to know his wife and her sisters and learned about domestic as business life. The Iranians are charming people. Although the regime is strict, I only had to wear a headscarf, and we ate in several restaurants where the food was delicious!