Good afternoon boys; it is good to see you back and I hope
the exams went well.

We have three weeks left of term now; three weeks when we
can achieve a lot, leave a great impression for the year gone by and throw
ourselves into activity which we can be proud of before we all go off to have a
holiday.  Generally, these are three
great weeks because you have a bit more freedom to do what you enjoy – exams do
not always provide that – but through Duke of Edinburgh, various sporting
occasions and the Creative Arts Festival, with huge opportunity in the theatre,
concert halls and art studios, you can take part in, or go to support, some
marvellous events.  Please do make the
most of it and end the year well.

We will start with hymn number 21.

It is generally taken that between 80% and 90% of
communication is non-verbal.  Just
reflect on that for a moment.  Sight is
by a very long way the primary sense in communication; how you look
communicates far more to the receiver and much more quickly than what you say.  When you meet someone, how you look makes a
more immediate difference, whether we like it or not, than anything else.  This is true in general life and it is also
true in interviews.  I recently went on
the most ridiculous course in how to interview people.  The course leader was aiming, rightly, to
question these primary urges to judge people by their appearance; always be
wary of judging a book by its cover, was the main theme, and fair enough
too.  But she gave an example of a man
who had come in for a receptionist job at her own very smart, very traditional
work place; he went to his interview in an old T-Shirt and ripped jeans, with
messy uncut hair, and sat challengingly back in his chair; but on the day he
gave comfortably the best set of answers to a standardised set of
questions.  She concluded, rather
triumphantly, by saying that she overcame her initial prejudices and employed
him.  On further questioning from us, it
turned out that the man did not last long at all.  The stand the interviewer took was in many
ways an admirable one; but it was not realistic.  Whether we like it or not, the man’s
appearance became what the customers’ first and most lasting impression of the
business was – and they were turning away from it.  And in fact, in her attempt to be politically
correct, the interviewer had not asked the most obvious question of all “why
are you dressing like that to an interview for a job which requires

I interview a lot of people – both boys and adults – and it
is so hard to overcome first impressions. 
Getting your appearance right and your body language right, whether you
like it or not, and whether it is politically correct or not, will always work
in your favour.  In your position,
attendees of a smart, traditional school, there is an expectation that you
dress yourself smartly.  In the next few
weeks, I would like you to think about the impression you are making on this
front; make sure you adhere properly to the basics of having the right uniform,
clean and worn properly with pride, shirt tucked in.  I’d also like you to consider the impression
you make with your demeanour in formal situations like the classroom.  If you are late for class, that tells the
teacher something unfavourable about you before you even open your mouth; if
you are slouching in your chair, or making faces with someone else in the
class, you do not have to open your mouth to give a bad impression.  If you are swinging on a chair, staring around
the room, that is immediately disrespectful to the teacher without saying
anything at all.  Finally, just remember
this: it is interesting how many times boys have said to me in a difficult
disciplinary interview “that’s not what I said, Sir” – well, you didn’t have to
speak – you were saying it perfectly clearly simply by the WAY you were acting.


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