“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.” Emily Post
Etiquette [ˈɛtɪˌkɛt ˌɛtɪˈkɛt] n
1. (Sociology) the customs or rules governing behaviour regarded as correct or acceptable in social or official life
2. (Sociology) a conventional but unwritten code of practice followed by members of any of certain professions or groups
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003
Etiquette is a code of behaviour that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group. The French word étiquette first appeared in English around 1750.
Oxford English Dictionary
Formal etiquette as we know it originated in the French royal court during the 1600-1700’s. According to a popular story, it all started with the main court gardener of Versailles getting angry at the guests of Louis XIV, because they were constantly destroying his newly seeded grass. To keep trespassers off the lawn he decided to put up warning signs or labels (in French – étiquettes) on which he stated the path that visitors should take. Unfortunately, the courtiers paid no attention to these directions. The gardener then realised he must complain to the King and did so in such convincing manner that His Majesty issued a special manifesto commanding everyone at Court to “keep within the etiquettes.”
Little by little the term Etiquette came to cover all the rules for correct behaviour and appearance in court circles. Through the centuries Etiquette term has grown into describing conventions that are meant to smoothen personal contacts and develop good manners in communication. Later on, with the decline of feudal courts much of the ceremony of life started to be less formal and the court ceased to be the arbiter of manners. Nevertheless, the aristocracy of the land remained the high exemplar of good breeding.
Why Etiquette Rules are Worth Knowing
Besides teaching which fork to use for the salad course and what dress to choose for cocktail receptions, etiquette covers much broader issues. Basic etiquette rules can help at casual picnics, on the phone, at company holiday parties, online and at wedding receptions. Politeness works everywhere, all the time. At home, your good manners help everyone in your family develop self-esteem. In the office, good manners stimulate others to work well with you. As Thomas Sowell said, “Politeness and consideration for others is like investing pennies and getting dollars back.”
Etiquette is all about building better relationships with your family, friends, co-workers, and other people in your life.
Etiquette guidelines advise on how to behave with courtesy and consideration in your day-to-day life — whether you’re addressing an in-law, answering your cell phone, opening a gift, or attending a special function.
Essential Etiquette Guidelines
The most essential etiquette rule is: When in doubt, treat other people as you would want to be treated yourself.
Generally, you should always observe etiquette rules that both value human beings and show courtesy. Here are a few common courtesies to start with:
- Speak softly
- Always answer when someone speaks to you
- Always say “Excuse me”, “Please,” and “Thank you.”
- Give and receive compliments sincerely
- Respect personal space of other person — don’t crowd!
Phillips Brooks said, “Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.” The little acts of kindness are what counts, such as being a good listener; going out of your way to help a friend; smiling often; and responding to other’s rudeness with restraint.
Your behavior is the best indicator of your character. To build better character:
- Develop thoughtfulness. Look for ways you can help others.
- Watch what you say — and how you say it. Choice of words has a huge impact on the way we interact. One should always be aware of the tone his voice when he speaks with others.
- Celebrate diversity. Accept and tolerate differences. Get to know people who are different than you.
- Business Etiquette
- Dress Code
- Table & Dining Etiquette
- Wedding Etiquette
- International Etiquette
- Events and Celebrations
- Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics and at Home by Emily Post
- Etiquette Survival
- Etiquette Page at Wikipedia