Protocol to Manage Relationships Today: Modern Relationship Management Based Upon Traditional Values

Many organisations are currently making the transition to a more flexible network organisation where effective internal and external cooperation must be redesigned. An engaged stakeholder network is a prerequisite for (business) success, but the development of professional relationship management is a relatively new discipline and can be complex.

Amsterdam University Press recently published the book ‘Protocol to Manage Relationships Today: Modern Relationship Management Based Upon Traditional Values’, a book written by leading protocol experts.

The book is written by the best European protocol experts; Jean Paul Wijers and Bengt-Arne Hulleman from The Netherlands, Isabel Amaral from Portugal and the British William Hanson and Diana Mather.

The book gives examples of those who have been successful in balancing modern protocol. The book describes the application of protocol to build strong relationships by the Dutch King and the Portuguese President, at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle and at the World Press Photo awards show. In the book top fashion and lifestyle expert Maik de Boer explains the value of protocol in the world of fashion and in the book the protocol of the famous Berlin techno club Berghain is described.

As paradoxical as it may sound, the framework of protocol actually doesn’t limit space, it creates it.

Photo: At the end of 2020 the authors of the book ‘Protocol to Manage Relationships Today’ were granted the honour to hand out a copy to the President of the Portuguese Republic. One of the authors, Portugal’s number one protocol expert Isabel Amaral, left on the photo, handed him a copy signed by all 5 authors.

By ensuring a smooth organisation, participants in an event and especially those acting as host, can focus on the content of the event without having to worry about the unexpected, Alexandra Messervy, formerly of the Royal Household of Her Majesty The Queen, said in an interview with the authors of this book. The rules of protocol offer predictability, so everyone knows what to do and how to do it.

Protocol also has a symbolic value. Symbols add meaning to the community’s values but also credibility, strength and often also beauty. The symbolic side of the protocol is the story, so all of us participating in the event are able to understand the broader context of why we are here.

Only if these two are applied in the right way, protocol is a facilitator of trust, connection and confirmation of the good relationship.

‘Protocol to Manage Relationships Today’ describes the success of Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the recently re-elected President of the Portuguese Republic, to balance the protocol between tradition and modernity.

‘This is a great example of how relations are built,’ the Founder and Director of The standard Companion, the Australian-based etiquette school, Ana Retallack, formerly of the Royal Household of Her Majesty The Queen, explains in an interview in the book. ‘Building diplomatic relations relies heavily on face-to-face interactions where true connections are made. I admire the approach of the Portuguese President.’ The approach of the Portuguese President towards protocol is not about abolishing it but introducing small changes. It allowed him to achieve a lot and it is part of the reasons why he is so popular.

In protocol I prefer a little distance. I like the formalities like “Mr President”.

The book ‘Protocol to Manage Relationships Today: Modern Relationship Management Based Upon Traditional Values’ is available on Amazon, at the website or Amsterdam University Press or on

Henry Borzi

%d bloggers like this: