Valentine’s day is just around the corner, have you prepared something special to surprise your significant other for this special day? Dozen of fresh red roses, a decent box of fine chocolate and possibly a reservation for 2 in a secluded and romantic restaurant, with a candlelit table, a beautiful table top and crispy table linen ready plus a sensual touch of some soothing background music. Yes, I know you have all these checked on your list, but what about something that is much more important and intangible and has the most impact after it all? That’s right, it’s you! All the thoughtfulness and effort that comes from your hard work will certainly impress your date, yet, one little slip could ruin such a meaningful evening which I am sure you will want to avoid, especially with all the work have been done. If you are looking to do your due diligence, to make an effort to be your best self and make that evening an impeccable, enjoyable one, plus ultimately winning the heart of your date, here I have a perfect treat for you.
One of my adored and respected English gentleman, Mr. William Hanson, is the ideal person that I will turn to for such topic. As a renowned leading Etiquette and Royal Protocol Expert, this timelessly classic gentleman has offered some insightful and professional workshops and coaching on all kinds of etiquette from business to household, demonstrating his expertise with gentle and easily-understood manner appeared in countless national TV programs in the UK, showing people how to act and behave properly in different occasions, such professionalism, persistence of respecting conventional values and of course, his polished and charming appearance wins him a prestigious reputation to collaborate with some of the most renowned companies in the world as their professional trainer, enhances the intellectual quality, personal image and development skills with impeccable tastes, politeness and the benefits from traditional values.
I remember one of the most memorable sessions he did was the afternoon tea session with an NFL quarterback and a TV host, then later, a separate guide that he presented himself with a complete session on the proper way to enjoy an afternoon tea from the napkin placement to the pronunciation of a scone (honestly, I did learn that too after watching it, before that, I did not even realized that I have been making the same pronunciation mistake so many times!), but after all, the most valuable thing about the sophisticated William is, his passion and dedication to these traditional values with respect, making it thrive even in the modern day that lots of us might have left them behind but literally something special to express the civilization and breeding. Another thing that I respect William so much for is his sense of style as he never conforms to any fashion trend, but simply dresses impeccably in his own way to express who he is as a professional coach, and as a gentleman.
I am very honored to sit down with this incredible gentleman, having a conversation with him about his insight towards etiquette for the modern day gentleman, style, and of course, some valuable pointers for Valentine’s Day:
My Modern Darcy: Hi William, such a delight to have you here with us today. Can you share a bit about what motivated you to become an Etiquette Coach?
William Hanson: My grandmother gave me a book of etiquette when I was 12 for Christmas and it got me started with my study of the nuances of etiquette, manners and civility. 240 books later, and being asked to teach at my school (whilst I was still at it) I now work all over the world instructing people on my subject.
MMD: How did you find such traditional values so significant in present day?
WH: Times change but tradition remains at the heart of etiquette, British etiquette in particular. We apply basic rules of common courtesy to new innovations and work out what should and should not be done.
MMD: What are your aspirations in your profession? And what kind of influence that you would like to make?
WH: I would like to write more books, in particular for children. As Whitney Houston sang, children are the future! We should educate them so their children and so on are more polite.
MMD: Can you share with us about what makes a modern day gentleman? What does he look like, and what are the qualities that he should possess?
WH: The modern day gentleman doesn’t really have a set look that can be clearly defined, as fashions change so much these days. But I would say that a gentleman is not a slave to fashion, but looks contemporary. He wears the clothes, not the other way round, and he should not look as if he has given too much thought to his appearance. It must be effortless.
MMD: As you have been coaching people around the world with a diversity of culture and tradition, can you share with us one of your most memorable experiences and how did you make such practice be universal even for the cultures different from your own?
WH: When I work in China I always enjoy seeing the difference in table manners when it comes to West vs East. In the West it is all very much about making no noise, minimal awareness of eating, and small bites. In the East it is anything but. You must make the other diners very much aware you are eating so they know you are enjoying the food. That said, being served fruit salad covered in mayonnaise in China was somewhat unpleasant. That is, apparently, how they like to serve it!
MMD: As Valentine’s Day is getting closer, can you share with our readers some key pointers on etiquette that gentleman should do and be aware of? Or, your standard to prepare a memorable and romantic Valentine’s day?
WH: Forget about restaurants. They are always over-booked and over-priced! A home-cooked meal is much more intimate and enjoyable but get dressed for dinner, rather than just sitting at home in your pajamas!
Special thanks to Mr. William Hanson.
Image courtesy of SRM Management UK