Webinar demeanor

Published October 8, 2021, 6:55 AM

by Fil C. Sionil

By nature, we have this inherent naughtiness. One way or another, we’re mischievous. That is why in my growing up years, my mother and my grandmother almost always reminded me to behave. It’s not only because good manners convey respect to those you interact with but more so it’s a reflection of how one has been reared.

In business, having good manners and knowing how to conduct yourself will bring you a long way. For instance, sharing a calling card to a new Japanese acquaintance is best done using your two hands rather than handing it over as if you’re distributing cards in a card game. And for Korean-telenovela addicts like me, apologizing for an error is done by slightly bowing your head. This is to avoid eye contact which is considered rude in Korean culture.

The importance of conducting oneself in the right manner suddenly came to the fore when I attended two Mondays ago the first session of the 2021 BSP-RBWC International Research Conference.

Speaking during the webinar, former Central Bank Governor of Malaysia Zeti Akhtar delicately reminded us participants of having good manners. In the middle of her remarks, she expressed concern about the participants, asking on the sound level. It was despite the fact that the topic on hand was stimulating and interesting. It talks about the growing dependence of the public on technology-driven payment systems. Gov. Zeti said this way of doing business is a consequence of the pandemic.

In an understated tone, Gov. Zeti cannot help but inquire if the participants can clearly hear her as she noticed that some were leaving the webinar. “I suddenly see a lot going offline.” Reading between the lines, the seventh governor of Bank Negara Malaysia,  currently chairman of Sime Darby Property, subtly reminded us participants of the good manners during a webinar.

It just dawned on me that speakers and other attendees can see participants signing off in an ongoing zoom meeting or webinar. A message popped-up: “The broadcaster and other viewers can see that you’re watching.”

Now, I fully understand where she’s coming from. If you’re the speaker it hurts to notice/observe participants leaving the forum just when a source is reacting. It’s conduct unbecoming.

In the olden days, the baby boomers genre to which I belong, has been taught, first and foremost, good manners and right conduct (GMRC). It’s a subject in elementary and high school. In college, social graces and manners are one-unit subject. 

But, GMRC was abolished in 2013 as a regular subject when the education authorities implemented the K-12 curriculum. Seven years after while everyone is busy grappling through the effects of the lockdown due to the pandemic, President Duterte signed into law last June 25, 2020 requiring GMRC and Values Education subjects to be taught from kindergarten to senior high.

The law requires that GMRC shall be integrated in the daily learning activities at the kindergarten level. I’ve observed the none-use of “po and opo” among the young ones and the honoring gesture of “Mano po,” requesting for blessing from the elders. It is refreshing to see this distinctively Filipino culture back in fashion. 

Yes, our demeanor, whether personal or virtual, defines us. As we celebrate the teacher’s month, here’s a salute to our mentors, who painstakingly nurtured and inculcated in us the importance of GMRC.

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