Splendid isolation

By Klaus Döring

Splendid isolation is a term used to describe the 19th-century British diplomatic practice of avoiding permanent alliances, particularly under the governments of Lord Salisbury between 1885 and 1902. The concept developed as early as 1822, when Britain left the post-1815 Concert of Europe, and continued until the 1902 Anglo-Japanese Alliance and the 1904 Entente Cordiale with France. As Europe was divided into two power blocs, Britain became aligned with the French Third Republic and the Russian Empire (known as the Triple Entente) against the German Empire, Austria-Hungary and the Kingdom of Italy (The Triple Alliance).

The term itself was coined in January 1896 by a Canadian politician, George Eulas Foster. He indicated his approval for Britain’s minimal involvement in European affairs by saying, “In these somewhat troublesome days when the great Mother Empire stands splendidly isolated in Europe.”

There is considerable historical debate over the extent to which this approach was intentional or accidental, its impact, or even if it ever existed, other than as a useful phrase.

Social anxiety is the single most common psychological problem according to innumerable survey results worldwide. The magnificent, gorgeous and excellent isolation, resulting from being nervous when meeting people is really the opposite. The state of being isolated reminds me of being in a hospital with an infectious disease.

Does the project of giving a speech or going to a social gathering give you the willies?

Relax, there are always ways and solutions to help you by teaching you “never to be nervous again”.

During the last weeks, I experienced several situations meeting new people, asking questions, replying to questions and delivering speeches.

I have always been the most silent pupil in elementary and high school. I was ashamed even to talk to or with my teachers. Several terrible school records have been the result. But, I wanted to become a journalist. I am still one.

During college times and while writing my first articles, I learned from my first boss, a daily news publisher, to avoid being nervous while meeting people. I was always prepared. Preparation for any communicating situation is a must. I have been invited to many parties and gatherings. I always asked for the guest list. I scanned all the newspapers and browsed the net.

“In your opinion, who…” or “What do you think of….?” kept the momentum going. That was sometime during the 1960’s. Since that time I was just very lucky to always meet the right people at the right time and place, which kept on teaching me how to avoid splendid isolation. Whether you’re delivering a speech, approaching your boss, or joining an important social occasion, do your homework first.

The most polished, smoothly delivered and spontaneous sounding talks are the result of many hours of work and years long experiences. The memorable one-liners and moving phrases that went down in history didn’t come from the last minute bursts of inspiration.

I also learned from Harvard University historian Richard Marius, “that good writing is a kind of wrestling with thought”. Or, as New York Times columnist William Safire expressed before: “To communicate, put your thoughts in order, give them a purpose, use them to persuade, to instruct, to discover, to seduce!”

Let’s don’t forget that everyone has something to be proud of, and that everyone enjoys talking about it. But, you have to make it happen!


Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com.