I, for one, would like to see nice manners find their way back into our lives on both sides of the Atlantic. (Well, actually, across the globe, right?) Rules of etiquette exist, after all, so that we can show respect and courtesy to our fellow human beings. And really, in this day and age, when one wonders if manners are taught in the home at all, having lovely manners sets one apart from the crowd in a most positive way—particularly when mannerly conduct comes naturally, rather than forced, as though being trotted out for a special occasion. How do manner come naturally? Though constant practice, of course! Especially in one’s home.
Regardless of where we live, I’m sure we've all witnessed bad manners that have made our faces curl in disgust. And our own behavior…ahem…is always exemplary, right? (Okay, okay, dear Anglophiles! I promise to start putting up my cell phone at the dinner table, and to never again practice origami with my dinner napkin, despite my obvious talent for doing so....) My pet peeves include seeing someone push food onto their fork with their fingers at the dinner table. People elbowing others as they pass on a busy street--or crowding elderly pedestrians who walk slowly. And, of course, people who stop in the middle of a busy sidewalk and text cell-phone messages. (Frankly, I've been guilty of this far too often, but I'm striving to improve.) On subway cars here in New York, I've even seen people pick their nose and cut their fingernails and toenails! Oy!
A young British gentleman involved in etiquette education, Mr. William Hanson, has recently come to my attention. He’s charming, with a gift for being authoritative, yet good-natured and amusing. Regarded as one of the world’s youngest etiquette experts, he’s cropping up on television, radio, magazine pages, and the public speaking circuit, dishing advice on general rules of etiquette, royal protocol, and conduct in our modern, technology-driven world, where rules of behavior with cell phones, emails, and other technologies are brand new. (His website even offers “etiquette apps” for iPhones and iPads, one of which is a free download.)
Mr. Hanson also teaches etiquette at The English Manner, a British-based company with locations in London, Toronto, and New York, which offers etiquette classes to individuals and corporate groups, as well as teaching “household arts” to aspiring nannies, au pairs, and valets at its Household Academy. (After training at the Academy, one may land a gig with the rich and famous, anywhere in the world, as the Academy’s confidential client list is, supposedly, VIP laden.)
Below are several videos featuring Mr. Hanson
William Hanson on TV: Let’s Do Lunch with Gino & Mel
William Hanson being quite witty on TV
William Hanson: British vs American Table Manners
- To visit William Hanson’s website, click HERE
- To visit William Hanson’s etiquette blog, click HERE
- To peruse William Hanson’s “etiquette apps,” click HERE
- To visit The English Manner website, click HERE
Rules of etiquette in Britain and America differ little. Most notable is the fact that we Americans hold our knife and fork differently and that the British recognize royal protocol when dealing with the Royals. I offer several videos below featuring American etiquette expert Nancy Mitchell, based in Washington D.C. Ms. Mitchell owns The Etiquette Advocate, a firm teaching etiquette and protocol to government agencies, embassies, universities, etc., as well as to individuals. In these videos, Ms. Mitchell addresses standard table etiquette, but you can find additional videos of her expounding on finer points, such as proper use of finger bowls and napkins.
Nancy Mitchell: Basic Dining Etiquette: Table Taboos
Nancy Mitchell: Basic Dining Etiquette - Using Utensils
Visit Nancy Mitchell's The Etiquette Advocate website, click HERE
If you're lucky enough to land a job in the UK, you may appreciate this video, Working with the British
Etiquette training needn't be didactic; indeed, learning the ropes can be quite humorous as the video below about "pavement etiquette" illustrates