Remember Scarlett O’Hara before her official outing getting advice on behaviour of a proper lady? Not to eat (only married women were allowed to, because they already caught their fish), how to speak, to whom, order of dances etc? You know, whatever a girl from a good home should do to attract the right husband? Well, Gone with the Wind sprang to mind following my attending two meetings of BNI.
I was invited as a guest to consider joining the local branch of the organisation, actually it’s ‘under construction’ until enough people would desire to register. I attended 2 meetings and decided to put it ‘on hold’. Am not sure am good fit for them or they for me. But that’s not the point. What struck me really, was the preparation and the rules of the network: I was taken zillion years back to the ‘good girl’ advice I got from my grandmother and which seems now to become the bread and butter of any networking circuit. From being punctual, to shutting the phones, over to speaking while standing, not cutting into others’ speech, not eating during the session – only in the end, and so on so forth. Guidance to intonations, presentations etc.
The “Ambassador” in this group looked like dominatrix, the atmosphere was one of a cult. One inch over the line – they open fire. You are warned only once.
But it really made me think, how come that the basic manners and inter-personal conduct became extinct in some 40 years in the middle class families….What obliterated them? The free back-to-nature spirit of the 60-70s? The lets fuse-with-Earth and ditch the prim-and-proper. The break up and atomisation of the modern “family” with grandmas and grandpas safely stacked away in the old people’s care homes?
The soft skills of the past that were drilled into every generation until recently, all of a sudden became thoroughly missed in the business world, where ape-mannered geeks are spewing their ideas gaping widely with the open mouths?
This void has become a thriving business of the networking circles, hammering debutante ball manners into the modern crowd. And they charge nice fees for the membership.
Maybe it’s the only skill humans will be able to retain and charge for, after robots takes over the world? Or am I wrong and they will have better people skills as well, eating with the closed mouth and using the knife and fork properly?