What is this etiquette? Just an old fashioned, stodgy, rich person’s ideology? Let’s examine etiquette as it pertains to us in today’s world.
First, let’s define etiquette:
eti•quette (et′i kit, -ket) noun
1. the forms, manners, and ceremonies established by convention as acceptable or required in social relations, in a profession, or in official life
2. the rules for such forms, manners, and ceremonies
Now that we know what etiquette means, you may wonder why is it important in your life? Perhaps these two public figures can clear the murky waters.
Letitia Baldrige, a contemporary and well respected etiquette professional, states in her newest etiquette book that “Etiquette is protocol, a set of behavior rules you can memorize like a map, which will guide you safely through life.” And, Graduate of Morehouse College, founder of his own ‘gentlemen’s movement,’ and former assistant to Sean “Diddy” Combs, Fonzworth Bentley implores men to treat women as ladies and for ladies to train them to do so. He mentions the basics like opening doors for the ladies and walking on the street side so he gets wet from a passing car instead of her.
But, why is this important to us? Consider this scenario. You are expected to give a speech at your best friends wedding reception.
A. Write a lengthy five minute speech about the groom’s antics during his college fraternity days where he met his bride…
B. Write a thoughtful, short one minute speech about your relationship with the couple, how they met, and how their love touches you.
We would, obviously choose B because we wouldn’t want to embarrass our friend, ourselves, or make anyone feel uncomfortable. This is courteous, considerate, respectful behavior and exactly what Baldrige and Bentley advocate. This is basically what etiquette is in our ‘real’ life and why it is important.
Knowing what is expected in any given situation makes us feel more comfortable and others perceive us as socially savvy and perhaps even more intelligent.
In fact, large corporations are paying millions each year to train their employees in the simple art of etiquette, knowing that it will benefit the bottom line. Simple courtesies such as, listening to each other without interrupting and saying thank you are vital issues and are often not practiced in the workplace.
Many young people are just beginning their careers and finding that they don’t have the social/business skills they need in order to get the job they want. They don’t know how to talk to a prospective employer, how to compose a grammatically correct sentence in a business email or even how to dress appropriately for the office.
But, what does this have to do with me? Why should I care how others perceive me?
Many times the troubles we experience in our relationships, personal and business, are caused from not understanding or considering other’s needs.
• Dating and relationship etiquette teaches us courtesy, consideration, and respect.
Distressed about the behavior of our little ones?
• Children’s behavior is often improved by teaching them proper manners and to be thankful.
Often bridal couples find that the guests they had invited decide to invite their own guests.
• Once people realize the proper etiquette behind the simple invitation, guests wouldn’t consider committing such a social faux pas.
Many times the bride may feel that because it is ‘her day’ she should have it ‘her way’ and damned with what others may think or feel.
• Simple manners, such as courtesy, kindness, and respect dictate that as a host of this event, we need to provide for our guest’s comfort as well as for those we asked to stand with us on our special day. After all, without these people the couple would have no wedding guests, hence no wedding.
If you still have doubts about the importance of etiquette and feel that it is only for those who like to judge others, consider this: aren’t you drawn to those who are well-mannered, pleasant, and polite?
Knowing proper etiquette helps everyone feel comfortable because we all know the ‘rules’.