Etiquette expert and Ladette to Lady star Liz Brewer talks job interviews, presentation, and how technology is changing the way we communicate.
It’s all about presentation. You have to realise that when you walk in that room, in front of the interviewer or panel of people, they’re going to make an instant decision. They don’t know they’re doing it, but it happens automatically, and it’s all to do with your energy. And so when you walk into a room, you have to take a deep breath and turn your energy from whatever it is, whether you’re frightened, or worried, or having a bad hair day, into positive energy. If you ever been to the east, and you’ve studied Kirlian photography, you know that they can photograph your aura. You have to make that aura – that energy – positive. So you take a deep breath, think positive thoughts, and you go in and your energy will hit them, and they’ll sit up and they’ll say, ‘right, what have we here?’
The thing about communicating over Zoom is that you never manage to judge energy. The whole idea of meeting with people is eye contact, it’s energy contact, and it’s feeling. We are animals, and although a lot of people don’t understand that, we train ourselves to be able to judge people – to know whether this is someone that I can trust and rely on. A lot of people now judge people’s mannerisms and the way they behave to determine things like whether they’re telling the truth or not. It’s happening more and more, and people who have the ability to do that have either spent time realising that have that ability, or they’ve actually studied people. When I started the first discotheque club in Portugal, for over ten years I had a rule for myself that I never danced. I would watch people and I would watch their behaviour, and I must have automatically picked up the ability to be able to read people. And it’s something that you can train yourself to do. A lot of people are unaware of other people, they’re too busy thinking about themselves or looking at everything around them. But just studying people, how they speak, and how they make eye contact is something that we’re going to have to learn to do better and better as this world becomes even more competitive.
What’s happened in today’s world is, because of technology, everything is speeded up. We can do ten times more nowadays than we could, say, 15-20 years ago. Because of that, we’ve speeded ourselves up, and we overlook things like saying ‘please’, and ‘thank you’, and ‘hello’, and remembering that the person on the till who’s taking our money is a human being. When you’re with another person, that is now precious time, and if you then have your phone out, it’s an interruption. Time is a luxury, and it’s often very special and limited.
Wherever you work, you have to have your own self-esteem. So when people have said, ‘Oh, well I can’t be bothered to dress up, I’m in the back room packing boxes’, I tell them that how you feel about yourself is a reflection of the way you present yourself. If you catch sight of yourself in a window or mirror, and you’re looking dishevelled with your shoulders hunched down, it doesn’t do much for your self-esteem, in which case, it doesn’t do much for you yourself.
Life is for living. You never know what’s going to happen from one second to the next, so the way you dress, how you walk, and how you present yourself makes people immediately think, ‘right, this person has respect for us, and they have respect for themselves’. You have to take pride in what you’re doing. If you don’t bother to make yourself look good in the morning, that’s how you’re going to continue during the day. When they’re training people to be soldiers, it’s very important that your shoes shine, it’s very important how your belt is buckled, and how your suit is presented. It’s a question of not just discipline, but it’s a question of actually giving the best of yourself. That’s what it’s all about.