Imagine my delight yesterday when I was contacted by a reporter from FoxNews.com wanting to interview me about proper behavior at graduation ceremonies? The genesis of the article came from two separate incidents where parents, families and friends were accused of cheering too loudly when their family members were awarded their diplomas.
One mother was arrested for her behavior. In the other incident the graduate was denied his diploma. The full article “Pomp and consequence: Officials crack down on outbursts at graduations” describes in detail the events and the reactions.
Graduation is a time for celebration and excitement. The question raised here is just how much of a display of emotion is appropriate and at what point during the event. The ceremony itself is one of dignity, formality and solemnity. While clapping as each graduate receives that hard-earned diploma is traditional, excessive cheering yelling and whistling are not. These displays of emotion should be reserved for the conclusion of the service and are generally initiated by members of the graduating class.
Managing the balance between enthusiasm and dignity is difficult. The problem in both cases was that the cheering interfered with the orderly flow of the ceremony, kept the next recipient’s name from being heard and prevented that student from receiving the recognition he deserved.
When it comes to etiquette and protocol, it is a never a matter of being stuffy or aloof. As I stress repeatedly in my book, Manners That Sell, it is always about kindness, courtesy and showing respect for others. I think that is what was missing on these occasions.