Sometimes you find the best teachers in unexpected places.

There are so many ways to learn, and not least among them is observation.

It's perfect.

sewing

Every day a new, free course is on offer. All we have to do is park our judgement, stay open, and pay close attention.

The other day I came across a stand-out instructor.

His name is Ramy Khalaf. Just 28, he runs one of his family's two menswear stores in Ottawa (Stephano Menswear & Tailoring). I brought two jackets to him for alteration.

My experience, which I'll tell you about it in a moment, caused me to wonder: how is it we might be with co-workers (and others), not just to succeed, but to live well?

It’s not a topic I hear much about.

A lost art, perhaps.

Decades ago our public schools taught a subject called "deportment". Merriam-Webster defines the word as, "the manner in which one conducts" oneself. Students learned standards of behaviour, etiquette, posture and other elements of good social intercourse. The classes were intended, I suspect, less to enrich students' lifelong experience in the company of others than to encourage conformity and teach them the basic skills needed to win social approval.

These courses have long vanished from our school system ...

... but deportment in the truest sense is as relevant as ever: that of bringing our best selves to our interactions with others so that we may experience the best of them.

Back to my instructor ...

I had met Ramy once or twice before. I liked him right away. 

But this time it hit me.

He’s a study in how to be with people.

He was relaxed, yet attentive. He took time. When I tried a jacket on, he examined it carefully for fit and condition.

He really took it in.

He’d formed an opinion, no doubt, on what needed to be done, and whether it was worth the expense. But he was just as interested in my opinion.

And there was something in Ramy’s manner – calm, relaxed, soft-spoken, respectful – a quality not a lot of people possess, in my experience. I’m sure you’ve met others like him. There's a stillness about them, even in motion.

I felt intuitively that Ramy knew exactly what was doing. He could have been anxious or temperamental and known what he was doing, but the point is that I wouldn’t have known so surely that he did. He won my confidence.

But there’s more to this ...

He comes across as someone who is true to himself.

He serves but doesn’t pander.

He is simply, fully, completely doing his work.


Written by: Hugh McBride