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The Nobility of Service and Well Intentioned Etiquette

Seated at Book Expo America's Main Stage in New York City and  half-listening to The Joy Luck Club's Amy Tan discuss her latest book about courtesans, I was brought to life by a handsome book that caught my eye.

"What's that?" I inquired of the woman who plopped down to my left, her arms cradling an etiquette book.

"Over there," she pointed. "The author's giving signed copies away."

I dashed out of my seat to make a bee line for the hefty figure happily signing copies of The Butler Speaks - A Guide to Stylish Entertaining, Etiquette and the Art of Good Housekeeping.

Most women would prefer listening to Amy Tan discuss the quirky personalities of her colorful cast of characters. I found greater delight in the pages of a how-to book reviving the spirit and style of good service.

My mother was a stickler for manners and I grew up with etiquette books. For years, I looked in vain for a modern version to share with my daughter.

For those unfamiliar with the near passé term, etiquette comprises the conventional requirements of proper social behavior and conduct. It applies to codes in governmental and formal observances, but also encompasses manners of conduct between and among private individuals and groups.

Meeting author Charles MacPherson was a pleasantry. He wasn't stiff or stuffy. To the contrary, this etiquette author was relaxed and full of humor. Founder of The North American School of Butlering, he's a Canadian who enjoys people and converses like a familiar friend.

Of the many authors I'd meet attending BEA this year, only Charles MacPherson inspired me to conduct a video interview. This master butler embodies his trade: he's found his love, niche and calling in life.

"My mother told me to get a job that would give me a pension, but I fell in love with service," he told me.

I understood. Whether it involved watching kids, walking dogs, helping someone develop their resume or assisting with whatever else my talent resources could provide, I've always enjoyed being of service to others.

Even during my corporate career, I considered myself a chief of service. As a corporate manager, I alternately appreciated the wise administrators who served me. Their skill, discretion and ability to anticipate my needs enabled me to perform my own job with greater ease and confidence.

A man after my own heart, author Charles MacPherson likes making others feel comfortable, too. Unlike some who only choose to be served, this expert butler realizes that service offers benefits for the individuals who do the serving.

"Delivering good service makes us grow in confidence, and we bring that confidence to others who need it."

True. For many, a lack of confidence actually keeps them from serving. For those who question their worth, fear of placing themselves "beneath" another intensifies their insecurity. As an extreme example, I once recall a pastor who refused to serve communion to his congregants. Despite the fact that Jesus, the ultimate servant, founded his professed religion, this pastor's delicate ego couldn't handle playing second to anyone.

Another example is a young couple from years ago who shared a lack of confidence. They placed value on living in the right space and, once they "moved up" to a new neighborhood, wanted to share their new found social setting with an open house event.

Offering my ample supply of silver urns and serving pieces to add flair to their gathering, I arrived early to help with set-up. I also smiled quietly when a few guests confused me for hired help. I was happy to assist the hosts by allowing them to feel the specialness they believed had eluded them previously.

What about you? Do you see nobility in service? Do you enjoy making others feel comfortable, special and relaxed?

Chatting with the effusive and entertaining author of The Butler Speaks, the promoter in me suggested: "You'd make a great talking head for TV."

"I already am," he smiled. "I appear regularly on Canadian TV."

Butlering may have morphed into obsolescence and near obscurity over the past few decades, but the man who loves to serve is bringing his own renaissance to the profession and becoming a modern day expert in his field.

Service is a noble profession. If you like serving others, pick up his book and get inspired.

Service and etiquette is not about being stiff, stuffy or pretentious. It's about being a conduit to others' comfort.

When you truly serve from the inside out, you bring a sense of grace and style to any environment - and that's definitely something to be happy about!


Maura is an International Speaker on Self Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

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Bravo Bravo Says:
Tuesday, May 6, 2014 4:31 PM
Good post right here. One thing I would really like to say is the fact that most pfoiessronal fields consider the Bachelor Degree just as the entry level requirement for an online college degree. Even though Associate Diplomas are a great way to get started on, completing your Bachelors starts up many doors to various employment opportunities, there are numerous online Bachelor Diploma Programs available coming from institutions like The University of Phoenix, Intercontinental University Online and Kaplan. Another thing is that many brick and mortar institutions offer you Online versions of their diplomas but commonly for a extensively higher amount of money than the providers that specialize in online college diploma plans.

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