Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW
Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW

Etiquette for young men, with Zarife Hardy

Do males need etiquette skills?
On Wednesday 21 March 2018, the young men of Warrane got a schooling in all things etiquette from the Founder and Director of the Australian School of Etiquette herself, Zarife Hardy. A nationally acclaimed etiquette coach, Hardy has specialised in this topic for over 25 years. In that time she has earned the loyalty of many high-profile clients and has facilitated hundreds of workshops Australia-wide.
So why etiquette? Isn’t this something more suited to ladies than men? Hardy cleared this up as she began her talk: “A lot of people don’t value the power, I guess, of having great etiquette skills. Because really, what etiquette means is how you make somebody feel in your presence. So it’s about making them feel comfortable, feel welcomed, feel happy to be with you… That’s what etiquette is all about.”
She told the boys how etiquette covered so many platforms – from the etiquette of how to open a door, to how to grocery shop, and how to go to the gym. Everything can be done in a more refined and polished manner; and she hoped to spend the evening going through a few things that might benefit the boys as they embark on their careers.

A bit of Hardy’s background
Hardy did the June Dally-Watkins program when she was 16 years old. This was an etiquette program by the woman who started Australia’s first etiquette school, and Hardy just loved it. After school, she spent some time teaching this program in three different Australian states. 
Next up for Hardy was a career detour, where she went to Hong Kong as the fit model for Esprit. She climbed the ladder and learnt about fabric, style, design and more; before heading to London where studied an incredibly powerful tool: voice, and articulation. Following this she ended up in Manhattan working for Etiquette Outreach, after which she returned to Australia and took some time off to have kids. But when a friend mentioned to her the need for professional image and etiquette education, she took her skills to market and within two years found herself with clients such as KPMG and Hyundai.
What was clear was the fact that etiquette skills were needed – people were getting stuck in middle management and struggling to get that little bit further. And Hardy wanted to make it clear that etiquette wasn’t about turning everyone into clones, but rather about being your sincere self, but the best version who stood a little taller. “Little things with huge impact make people believe in you more. Because I’m sure we’ve all met that one person where we walk away and think wow, I really liked talking to him, or gee I really enjoyed talking to her. And it’s generally because they have good etiquette skills – they make you feel good in their presence,” she said. 

How to make a good first impression
“So unfortunately, every day of our life, when we meet someone new, or we go somewhere new, we are judged,” said Hardy. “You’ve actually all done it tonight with me – you’ve made a decision… whatever you’ve thought, you’ve thought of something about me. We do it instinctually to feel safe when we go somewhere. So research shows that 55% of our first impression of somebody is visual…38% is the tone and the quality of your voice – not the words that you are saying. And the last 7% is actually what you are talking about. So 93% of our communication is considered to be non-verbal. So it’s great to have all this wonderful knowledge in your brain, but if you can’t present it in a polished manner, then you’re missing out on three quarters of your opportunities.” 
The first tip she had for the boys: posture and sitting up straight. “Because there is nothing worse than speaking to someone who’s all slouch, or who shuffles into the room like they don’t want to be there,” she said. “Posture also changes how we feel in our brain. By immediately standing taller we feel more confident, we look more confident…it instantly changes the way your brain feels which changes the way your body feels. So please don’t underestimate it… it doesn’t just look good, it has huge purpose and meaning and strength. It also helps us breathe better so we’re more alert… our brain absorbs more. So posture has a great overall effect on everything.”
Next up was eye contact. “We do not trust someone when they do not look us in the eye,” Hardy told the boys. “When someone doesn’t look you in the eye, there are a thousand things that start racing through the brain. Eye contact builds trust…We should be maintaining eye contact about 75% of the time.” She explained to the boys about the subliminal messages that eye contact can send to the other person’s brain – for example looking down repeatedly shows fear, while looking to the side too much could make one appear disinterested. 
The third tip was to smile! “What does a smile show?” asked Hardy. “Happy! I’m friendly! I’ll talk to you! I’m safe! … Enter a room or a new occasion with a smile on your face.” 
After that, Hardy spoke about the importance of a handshake. “Our handshake releases so much information about ourselves. I’m sure you’ve all shaken someone’s hand and thought ‘ooh – wet, weak, sloppy’.  And we have a very different opinion of somebody,” she said. “So let me tell you something else very interesting about a handshake. A handshake equates to three hours of face-to-face communication. Simply because when we shake somebody’s hand, or we touch somebody that’s wanted, it releases a lovely chemical called oxytocin. It makes us feel good. So it generally takes three hours of communication to get that feel-good chemical… So please shake hands… and get into the habit of introducing yourself and use your full name – it sets a lovely formal polished tone.”
Fifth on the list of first impression tips was micro-expressions. “Micro-expressions are small expressions that we need to receive from people to feel that they are listening to us,” explained Hardy. “So maybe it’s a little nod of the head. Maybe it’s raising the eyebrows. It might even be a micro-sound like ‘aah’ or ‘mm-hmm’… Use your micro-expressions, even if you’re not interested. It at least shows that you are a genuine, good, kind person.”
And last of all, Hardy talked about being frame to frame with another person. “If you are speaking to someone and you want to be very connected to them – this may help if you are meeting someone to go for an interview or something – make sure you are frame to frame. So my shoulders are equal to your shoulders, my toes are pointing at you. We are connected,” she said. 
“You have seven seconds to create a great first impression… So don’t miss an opportunity simply because you’ve just had a bad day!”

The art of conversation
In the Q&A session following her talk, Hardy had more gems for the boys. She spoke on the art of conversation, and encouraged the boys to practice with each other at dinnertimes – reminding them that we don’t just come to the table to eat but to engage as well. Life skills are learnt at the table and relationships are built at the table!
“Make sure that you ask open-ended questions, so something they can give you a good response to. The second thing that I recommend is that you ask questions that make people think… One of the best questions I like is: ‘So what’s been the highlight of your day today?’” she suggested. “Probably the next most important thing in conversation is we don’t listen to the reply. We’re often so busy thinking about the next question that we don’t actually listen to what they’re saying… Listen to what the reply is, and ask a question from the reply, not from another question that you’ve got in your back pocket.”
Hardy continued: “Please don’t be a conversationalist that gives yes / no / maybe answers, because those are people that others don’t want to talk to. Try to give at least a sentence. The art of conversation is to get to a level where we’re both talking, not asking questions.” She also suggested avoiding going into detail on certain topics, such as politics, religion and your pet hobby (because it might be so specific that others might not be keen want to hear about it). 
She finished off: “Presentation and polish is power… so don’t underestimate details in everything that you do.”

(Photographs from the evening are available here)