Monday, September 28, 2009

A question of decorum?

"Manners are too little, morals are too much." So says, Lord Chesterfield on the nature of decorum. We in the US of A tend to have lost sight of decorum in our interactions not only in public, but in private. There is a certain kind of genteel grace in apropriate topics discussed in appropriate ways. Forms and rules followed. People are prepared to listen.

I have found that in various public meetings, there is a form in which communications are well received. Deviate from that form, your message may be well crafted, but is effectively not heard. You might win short term popularity by shouting (aka - "You LIE!" by Congressman Wilson), but it doesn't win you points in the long run. At the same time, we live in a society which values deeply the idea of free speech. We should be able to state what we feel (even if it is repugnant to some or even most) without fear of retribution. I observed an interesting dance around this topic between a City Councilman and a set of policies generated by City Staff for City Council meetings. Though there have been issues which are contentous, there was a restrained but clear smouldering anger as a result of this set of policies, on both sides. Attempts to change the format of meetings is a surprisingly volitile issue. Be careful of breaking those unspoken, but fairly clear rules!
When communicating with clients or in public, make sure your message is in the right form to be well received. Treat people with respect during delivery. Be sure to know confidently the material you are communicating. Be passionate. Have decorum. Also, thanks for the photo Jimmy! It is "Fading Glory" - apropos for the topic, no?

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