I am currently reading a book “Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret”, where it is pretty clear that manners really do matter more than being a Princess. The book is a waspy, acerbic biography of the Queen’s sister, and whilst it is a compelling read, it is an uncomfortable read at times, and leaves a strong message that whoever you are, behaving badly has no rewards.
Princess Margaret had the good fortune to be born into a tremendously rich and powerful family. She was royal by birth and had extraordinary good looks. Yet even when she was very young, she demonstrated a vicious tongue: saying hurtful things to others. As she got older, she showed little regard for other people’s needs: always being late; only thinking of herself and treating others with a lack of basic respect. Yet she expected others to treat her with utter respect, given her rank as a royal princess.
By all accounts, even her closest friends were treated badly, and at events would have a rota in place where they all had their turn to speak to her and be insulted. Apparently she particularly enjoyed socialising with well heeled thespians, who would be entertained by her put downs and behind her back, would mimic her. The biography is peppered with plenty of reminiscences from famous people at the time who repeated some of the dreadful behaviour she demonstrated. Within the ‘right’ circles, everyone had a story to share.
Every woman want to be a princess and to be treated with respect. And Margaret seemingly had everything anyone could wish for, but still showed no gratitude or regard for others. A real tragedy.
We all occasionally come across young people who, for whatever reason behave like ‘Princesses’ or ‘Princes’; with little respect for others. But we like to hope this arrogance will disappear as they get older. But this wasn’t the case with Margaret.
So why am I writing about this. The book made me consider how we behave with others and whether good manners and respecting others – at work, our teams, friends and family, are actually more important than having a particular rank. That having some manners will result in others treating you better AND doing their work better. I have certainly worked for some pretty unpleasant people in my time – and no doubt you have. And whilst one is almost terrified into working even harder, the experience is dreadful and you can’t do your absolute best, for fear of a tantrum or worse. But manners – even apologising when you have had a wobbly during a stressful situation, go a long way to building good relationships with others.
I am running a complimentary webinar on Monday 12th March at 8pm GMT. The topic is the Art of Asking; we need to ask for advice, opportunities, testimonials, recognition etc to raise our profile. In the webinar I will share some tips on how to ask so that it is a win win situation for you and the person you are asking. Register here.