Lessons from a Career Butler
Charles MacPherson knows how to properly run a household. He does it for luxury clients all the time. But, his common sense advice works for everyone.
Charles MacPherson has been running people’s lives for a long time. He is a career butler who has worked for large households around the world. He is also head of The Charles MacPherson Academy for Butlers and Household Managers, which he opened in 2008. He wrote the book on etiquette, literally. It’s called The Butler Speaks: A Return to Proper Etiquette, Stylish Entertaining, and the Art of Good Housekeeping. You may have seen him on The Marilyn Denis show where he is a regular guest or read his weekly column in Metro. He also consults with companies on how its staff should act, particularly when dealing with clients. This past summer he worked with Ford to train its dealership staff.
He is an expert on how to run your life efficiently and effectively. Most of his advice works across the board for butlers, business people and us regular folk just trying to book our dentist appointments and get our friends to listen to us.
Here are a few general tips from a butler that will improve your etiquette and make your life easier.
“The brain functions at 500 to 600 times faster than a computer,” says MacPherson. “We are always thinking ahead, but we can’t be in our own world. We have to pause and listen.”
It helps to paraphrase what is said back to the person to make sure you understood correctly.
Pay attention to your own body language
“Think about your tone of voice. Stand up straight. Face the person and look them in the eye when you speak to them,” says MacPherson. Those tips that sound like they could be coming from your grandmother are always worth repeating, and are some that MacPherson uses during corporate training.
Control the controllables
Sometimes things fall off the rails and there is nothing you can do about it. MacPherson says it’s important to keep everything looking calm on the outside and remember that what you can control is how you get everything back on track.
“A modern butler is not someone who does service,” says MacPherson. “A butler also runs the household.” That means a butler is managing paperwork and scheduling appointments, a few of things most of us aren’t great at. Life is repetitive, which makes planning ahead easy.
“Take a look at the 12-month calendar and plan it out,” says MacPherson. “For your family, think about when kids go back to school or when they are vacation, for example, a schedule appointments for then.”