I marked my twelfth protocol, with a small group of students and a fellow mom, by experiencing Gioachino Rossini’s opera, The Barber of Seville. We, a happy bunch dressed in regalia, ventured out on a weekday to enjoy fine dining and to feast our senses on delectable artistry. However, many preparations were needed before we could even sit in the restaurant.
I love protocol, “The customs and regulations dealing with diplomatic formality, precedence, and etiquette” (dictionary.com), but how can I ensure that the event will be a success? Through experience and experiment, I believe I have found the ingredients that can make any type of protocol worthwhile. These ingredients are interdependent and, just like a chef, I can serve an evening just as I like it. I make memories with management. I create connections with context. And, finally, I reinvent relationships with relish.
Making memories happens spontaneously. I especially like pleasant memories, and detailed planning necessitates management which helps deflect bad memories from even starting to happen. For example, with tickets and seating, budget limits rule the day. Although I opt for the balcony seats that are less expensive than the main floor, I do not purchase the least expensive seats. After all, this occasion warrants a memory better than a bird’s eye view of the stage. I desire the delightful whole-spectrum view. Likewise for dining, I prefer an open menu (a fixed price with some choices). Many managers at fine restaurants happily create elegant dining within these constraints.
Creating connections becomes critical for the sensibilities of the evening. I preview and know the content and context of the evening’s material. This material should always be available to the attendees before they partake. An emailed link to the event’s program or another source of the program’s material conveys context. In addition, I like to discuss the evening’s content at dinner or at least inquire about perceptions before the event. Connections with context create such an important ingredient in the evening that the other ingredients become dramatically affected if sensibilities are infringed upon or surprised by accident.
Protocol creates polite, friendly atmosphere. Dressed in finery, our manners display our best; we are the same, but different. I like to think we reinvent our relationships from our day to day seminar experiences. I do. I relish my conversations; I esteem my dinner companions. The fellowship of a long, shared dinner is more than just eating. It is a banquet of hearts and minds.
I love opera: the musical drama of colorful costumes, of beautiful scenery, and of amazing singing. I reflect on emotions moved by brilliant orchestration combined with excellent libretto. Do people put a feather in their cap for seeing opera performances? Maybe, or maybe like me, they place their programs on a bookshelf to denote a special evening of dazzled senses. Either way, by making memories with management, by creating connections with context, and by reinventing relationships with relish, this marks more than an evening of artistry. This marks a slice of life that is worthwhile.