Greatly humbled to be listed among the 100 SME WOMEN IN NIGERIA, a special report published in the Bank & Entrepreneur Africa magazine.
This is to express profound depth of gratitude to dedicated readers, who commend, query, criticise the column, which was borne out of deep conviction that the return to proper behaviour is a matter of urgent national importance. Persuaded that life rewards problem solvers, rather than complainers, I chose to follow this passion which elicited concerns from everyone around.
“Please show me the money, convince me that people are willing to pay to learn how to use fork and knife’ my boss demanded of me. I must confess that I have spent a greater part of the time explaining that Etiquette is not about fork and knife, even more than half a century after the death of Emily Post who averred that ”Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use” and most importantly, that ’to make pleasant and friendly impression is not only good manners but equally good business.’
Etiquette is good business! It is a powerful tool deployed by lobbyists and influencers who are handsomely rewarded for their social skills.
Man is wired to socialise. This interpersonal function is described as a relationship, how his actions affect the other people within his area of operation or existence. Religions are premised on interpersonal skill as a prerequisite for approved relationship with the Supreme Being, the Almighty God, who authored the order of existence.
It has become very glaring that people with strong interpersonal skills often get ahead of others. Successful salesmen recognise essential soft selling skills as a major success factor. In the home, school, work place, public, national and global sphere, the natural tendency is to gravitate to people who make you feel good, increase your self-worth. Typically, people tilt to places where they are celebrated rather than where they are tolerated. That is why charismatic leaders have uncommon hold over the people they superintend. Etiquette is simply cultivating and maximising human relationships for social advancement.
With social graces, success in any field of human endeavour is not too far. My late father, Ezinna Leonard Okereafor, a sage, who understood the importance of social skills used to say: “It is only a fool who does not know that his brother is an important guest.” The old man believed that everyone should be dignified and respected irrespective of who is involved. He valued everyone and never took anybody for granted, not even his children.
If any was visiting, Ezinna, as he was fondly called, was detailed in his preparation and left nothing to chance. Generators were in good working condition, with the back-up also serviced to ensure uninterrupted power supply to align with supposedly upscale urban life. The modest home would be cleaned, wearing a gay look. He went out of his way to ensure the best meal was made available. You arrived home feeling very special. If accompanied by a spouse, be sure that the culinary preferences have been taken care of; he would scout the entire village to procure your preferred drink. He accorded his relatives, neighbours, and any one the same treatment as august visitors. Hospitality was key to the patriarch. He was very mindful of sensibilities, rarely caught in any embarrassing or tactless act in any social situation. Going the extra mile to make you comfortable, he would always reiterate an Igbo proverb that says ‘you are not wise or matured if you cannot recognise the person who can influence your destiny.”
Truth is, where you see value and premium, you tend to behave properly; your manners reflect your values. To be socially smart, you must value everyone.
Respect, which is one of the cardinal principles of etiquette, weighs heavily on the impact of your actions on other people with reference to the future. Commitment to continuous improvement in your relationship with people around you is guaranteed to deliver the desired positive result in the quest for success.
Being mere mortals we are not privy to the pre-ordained architects of our destiny, which is why it is of vital importance to respect everyone and place people on high value. As the popular saying goes, you never know in whose ‘sokoto’ God has placed what you are pursuing to Sokoto.