Notice how not one person in this photo is slumping or leaning? Wunderbar!

Did your Mom ever bug you sit up straight? Even with 6 kids, my Mom sure did. No schlumping at the table! So when I saw the Downton Abbey special “The Manners of Downton Abbey,” I was quite amused — and pleased — by the section about posture while seated at a table. So much so, that I’ve given all of my executive clients “Downton Abbey” homework to be used while they’re sitting in meetings.





No Leaning Backward

How old is the dowager in this pic? She doesn't look aged at all because....she has great posture.

How old is the dowager in this pic? She doesn’t look aged at all because….she has great posture.

In the Manners episode, we learned that no is allowed to lean onto the chair back. Ever. I’m not quite that strict.

My personal rules are: your spine should be stacked up, with your head, shoulders, ribcage and hips floating one atop the other. Your tailbone should just slightly jut outward, not under.

Oh, that was a game-changer for lots of people, wasn’t it? If your tailbone is tucked under, you’re slouching, aka schlumping. See my Mom’s rule above.

I’m ok with you using the back of your chair IF that does not cause you lean backward. Either sit up tall without the chair back or scoot your bum all the way back in the chair. Please throw away any chairs that lean backward as if you’re about to be launched into space.

No Leaning Forward

Back to the Manners episode. The characters are not allowed to leave their hands on the table. It’s considered gauche. (aka: tacky; poor manners; rude.) If their hands aren’t doing anything, they sit in the lap, not on the table.

How does this translate to modern life? Hmmmmm, if your hands aren’t on the table or desk in front of you, how likely would you be to lean forward? Not much, since you’d literally topple forward.

My ruling on this one: adopt the ‘no hands’ habit. You’ll find that your posture instantly improves.

Side Benefits

Did I mention that all of this good posture stuff is…work? Heck, yes! It requires effort. Try it at your next meeting or meal and notice what happens. You’ll find that you’re more attentive and alert to what is happening around you. You’ll breathe easier and, if you’re eating, you’ll digest your food more efficiently. 

Just for kicks, notice who at the table is schlumping backward or forward. Are they attentive? Are they moving things forward? If everyone was practicing Downton Posture, the meeting would move forward faster…….