Officers’ Discipline and Inter-Personal Relations Being with seniors

Hands in Pocket:
Please keep your hands out of your pockets, especially when talking to a senior or a lady. It is also preferable to keep your hands dry and clean, with clean/manicured nails before proffering them for a handshake.

Differing with seniors:
The message is that it is as important to differ and disagree as it is to do so with elegance and courtesy. An aggressive broadside will no doubt win you instant hero-status with juniors and back-benchers, but that is all. The senior will not accept this kind of attitude. So you better decide and be prepared to take your chances before adopting this option.

In a senior’s Office:
If someone else enters, no matter how senior or closely connected to you, don’t jump up unless the occupant of the office himself gets up. Just an acknowledging smile and respectful nod will do. You actually offend the person whose office you are visiting with your jack-in-the box act if the person entering is junior to him.

Visit by your Boss:
You should be appreciative, when your Boss takes time out to visit your office. Assume that he has come for a specific purpose and that his time is limited. Ask if you can help him. Do not immediately pour your problems to him. If his time permits, when he has finished with his business, he may ask if you have anything to bring up. Also, observe it while on the phone.

Telephone Calls:
Brevity is the secret of good communication. Observe it while on the phone. With a visitor in the office, do him the courtesy of giving him precedence over the telephone or even a file.

There is no known substitute for consideration and courtesy. The biblical quotation which is as valid today as it was when first written: - `Do Unto Others as You Would Have Them Do unto You’ Or as the famous essayist Francis Bacon said: - `Manners Maketh the Man’

Behaviour with Seniors:
It is a compliment to you that your senior can relax in your presence during off-duty hours. The extent of informality and relaxation should be governed by your senior and not you. Do not extend off-duty informality to the next official day, if you desire to continue enjoying an informal relationship when you are off duty.

Meeting a Senior Officer:
If you are headed towards a senior, who is in the middle of a crowd, to greet him, do not pause en-route to greet others whom you happen to know in the crowd. If you do, it makes that senior look like he is waiting at the end of a line-up or queue only to meet a junior. While that is not the best way to make and/or keep friends in high places, it is surely the best way to lose them.

Escorting Ladies:
At parties in the Mess and functions etc., the lady no matter how young, MUST be escorted when being taken somewhere. This is a SOP and we all know that it has to be followed.

Handing out Plates/Serving Drinks:
Your desire to be a good, polite, sweet, kind, courteous etc. host is beyond comment. But, at an official lunch/dinner in the Mess, please do not upstage a butler in the process of fawning over the guests (be it your boss, the GOC or even the Chief) by beginning to hand-out the plates when the meal is announced. The charter of duties of the Mess Secretary, PMC, OIC party does not list this function, even in passing.

Conduct with Civilians

How to Address Civilians:
Addressing most politicians and all Civil Servants, no matter what the latter’s seniority and position, has one thing in common: we do not ‘Sir’ them. There are many reasons for this sound practice and excellent tradition. Generally speaking, the correct form of address is `Mantri Mahodaya/Mantriji/Minister’ or Mr Bedi/Mr Secretary’ or Mr Rao/Mr Commissioner’. This would safely see you through in a majority of interactions, no matter what your seniority as a commissioned officer and no matter with the gentleman’s equation with your service bosses. Police officials are to be similarly addressed as ‘Mr Bose/Superintendent/Inspector General’.

This golden rule must always be kept in mind regardless of what you personally stand to gain by ‘Sir’ ing a civilian. If it is not, you may unwittingly do a lot of damage to the standing of the Officer Corps.

Personal Code

Walking in Step:
Officers when in uniform should always walk in step, the junior on the left. Adjust your stride to your senior’s and he will meet you half-way.

Make it a rule to be always punctual in keeping an appointment, and, when it is convenient, be a little beforehand. A habit ensures that composure and eases which is the very essence of gentlemanly deportment; want of it keeps you always in a fever and bustle and no man who is hurried and feverish appears so well as he whose punctuality keeps him cool and composed.

JCO’s Prestige:
Do not call a JCO only by his last name. If you are personally close enough to him, call him by his first name, otherwise use his rank and last name. `He is proud of the fact that he is a JCO’.

Lounging in Uniform:
Walk, stand, or sit. Don’t lounge around when in uniform. Also, wearing of the cap when outdoors is mandatory and not optional. Our reluctance to wear the cap is matched only by our inability to keep the left arm stiff by the side when saluting. Also, do try to avoid going to the market for shopping in uniform; it certainly does not enhance the aura of the uniform.

It is bad enough to roll up your sleeves; an open cuff is a solecism.

Dress Code:
It is tolerable to take off your jacket or tunic in the privacy of your own office. If your senior enters, or when you leave your office, you should dress and button up. In fact in very hot climate, even a vest and shorts are the norm for ‘working dress’, but these need to be specified in the orders of the day. Your personal urge does not dictate the need to wear them.

Leaning on Desks:
Do not lean on your senior’s desk. If your knees are all jelly, request permission to sit down. If already seated, lean back against the back-rest.

Do not enter any office (your senior’s in particular) either smoking, carrying in your fingers your pipe, cigar or cigarette. In his presence, it may be best to refrain from smoking. If you must, wait till you are seated and you have asked his permission. Blow the smoke side wards or below, but never in front.

When Conducting Dignitaries:
When leading your senior or a lady to a room/office, be the first to enter holding the door open, if the door opens inwards. If it opens outwards, hold it open and allow them to enter first. Be careful not to get caught pushing ‘pull’ doors and vice versa-it shows your unfamiliarity.

When Conducting Ladies:
Always avoid any rude or boisterous action, especially when in the presence of ladies. It is not necessary to be stiff; indolent, or sullenly silent, neither is perfect gravity always required, but if you jest, let it be with quiet, gentlemanly wit, never depending upon clownish gestures for the effect of a story. Nothing marks a gentleman so soon and so decidedly as quiet, refined ease of manners.