In this day and age, when we are in a situation that requires the nearly lost art of "small talk," we tend to whip out our cell phones and bury our noses in them, as though some pressing matter has captured our attention. An exercise I suggest we all try the next time we're in an awkward social situation is to keep our cell phones in our pockets, look the human being(s) we are with in the eye, and force ourselves to make pleasant conversation. And remember: "pleasant conversation" is generally not defined as talking about ourselves; it's generally construed as talking about the weather or other innocuous topics or showing an interest in the other person. This exercise may sound scary, but we're Anglophiles, and I believe we can master this!
In a book I purchased at Twinning Tea, in London, entitled The Etiquette of Politeness, Good Sense and Good Manners, one section is dedicated to conversation. The book suggests these pointers when conversing with others:
- Moderate you voice (speaking neither too loudly or too softly).
- Do not introduce a topic suddenly; allow the previous subject to be completed, allowing others to express their opinions. (And men should remember to be attentive listeners to women, which is sometimes not the case.)
- Do not display narrow-mindedness, nor make general statements (e.g., all lawyers/doctors are bad), which may cause controversy.
- Do not deliver long monologues; doing so will label you a Bore.
- Engage in story-telling judiciously. And if you're on the receiving end of injudicious story-telling, try to use "Christian forbearance."
If you would like to learn more about British etiquette, the links below are for you!
- To read Ask Men's Etiquette of a Gentleman (The True Marks of a Gentleman), click HERE
- To read The Perfect Gentleman's A Gentlemanly Approach to Business and Networking, click HERE
- To read Culture Question's About the Manners of Gentlemen in Britain, click HERE
Courteous behavior, alone, is enough to make one rise to the top of the pack, but when we couple nice manners with nice dress, we achieve a true mark of distinction. To get ideas about sartorial choices, check out GQ's Photo Gallery of Britain's "Best Dressed Men" HERE
British etiquette expert William Hanson has special words of advice for women. To read his article in The Telegraph, entitled Five Ways to be a "Lady" in the 21st Century, click HERE
I recently saw Glamour UK's list of "Best Dressed Women" and was not amused with the photo of the winner, Kristen Stewart, in a dress that rendered her nearly nude. The dress looked expensive, but it made her look cheap. For a real style icon. . .for one that exudes fine taste. . .I believe we should study the sartorial choices of our beloved Kate Middleton, aka Duchess of Cambridge. To see StyleList's Photo Gallery of Kate Middleton's clothing, click HERE