Monday, March 15, 2010

The Department of Deportment

Say something funny to make yourself laugh. No questions - just do it! Did you laugh? Did your laughter sound like an ungodly cross between a bicycle horn, a wailing baby, a paper noise-maker and a garbage disposal?

Say hello to the very next person you see. How did you sound? Did your voice waver? Did it come out high-pitched and squeaky? Did you sound rushed? Uncertain? Irritated? Robotic?

Place a non-personal phone call. Call a telemarketer if necessary to show them just how annoying they can be. Does your voice have a natural and pleasing rhythm? Are there cadences to your speech or are you merely barking out words in a (sometimes) logical sequence?

Are you sitting right now? You can admit it. You are at a computer, after all. How is your posture? Is your back straight? Are your feet planted? Do you appear healthy, in charge, confident and poised?

Let's consider your wardrobe. How do your clothes fit? Do you know how your body is shaped? Do you know which styles flatter you and which do not? Do your sartorial expressions match your ethical, political, theoretical, personal, and professional expressions?

If only there could be a Deportment Department at high schools, colleges and universities. In this space, one could tell someone that her posture is dreadful, that she's failed to modulate her voice and, by the way, that pair of shoes? All wrong. Moreover, it would be a welcome - though difficult! - learning experience.

The ethics of presentation, style and discipline - in all areas - would be emphasized. If your laugh frightens people into thinking they may catch the whooping cough if they remain in your company, then perhaps, once this is pointed out to you, you could learn to change the sound of your laughter into something more appealing. Or, in public at least, less loud. If you could learn to notice the nervousness that characterizes your voice in certain situations, then perhaps you could learn to speak over and around the nervousness so that you can present yourself with confidence to make more powerful impressions.

2 comments:

omphaloskeptic said...

Oh no! My self-obsessed self is worried about the fact that you posted this shortly after running into me! Do I need to check my deportment? You would tell me if I had bad shoes, right? Or an annoying cackle? A nervous voice?

philosophotarian said...

oh! I would certainly tell you!
I passed a couple of undergraduate women on my way into the office yesterday morning. They were laughing - obnoxiously! I hadn't even been properly caffeinated! And it seemed clear that they were laughing so loudly (at least in part) for effect: look at me! I'm having fun! I'm so cool and laughy! But it was such a hideous laugh. I would have felt bad for her except that it was pretty obvious she thought she was soooooooo cool. whatever. I like the post. ;-)