Etiquette: The prime guideline for manners | Daily News


Etiquette: The prime guideline for manners

What is the difference between etiquette and manners? The two words are closely related but have faintly different meanings. While both these concepts go hand in hand and involve rules of behaviour, they are slightly different and involve different types of skills. Etiquette is a code of behaviour, while manners refer to the behaviour itself. In terms of usage, one who understands etiquette and puts it into practice has good manners.

To be more precise, etiquette is a set of rules dealing with exterior form. Manners are an expression of inner character. Manners are specific actions such as saying please and thank you, holding the door open for someone, chewing with your mouth closed among other behaviour. Having good manners basically means being polite.

Etiquette is more like the rules or guidelines for when and where you use those manners. It answers questions such as: When is it appropriate to write a thank you note? Is it okay to ask for cash as a gift? Do I need to invite my ex-mother-in-law to my bachelorette party? Using proper etiquette basically means doing what is expected or acceptable in a certain situation.

Etiquette and manners are both critical to functioning in society. They also vary from culture to culture, as standards of conduct are heavily based on cultural tradition and heritage. The primary distinction between etiquette and manners is that the first includes specific rules of conduct, while the other is more generalized. Manners involve general behavioural guidelines, such as treating the elderly with respect and courtesy. Etiquette is a specific code of behaviour, with an example of etiquette being knowledge of the proper mode of address for a queen, which is, incidentally: "Your Majesty." In some societies, people regard etiquette as elitist and unnecessarily refined, but this is actually not the case.

Many of the rules of etiquette are already practiced by people with good manners, and a demonstration of familiarity with etiquette and manners will mark someone as cultured, polite company. People are typically taught manners from a very young age so that they grow up accustomed to the basic rules of conduct about appropriate behaviour in social situations.

Children learn, for example, that it is not polite to stare, to point their fingers at people, to make personal comments, or to cast aspersions upon the selection of food at a dinner. In childhood, people usually absorb lessons about how to treat others and how to behave in a variety of situations. Manners often become second nature when they are taught at a young age. The lessons children learn early will stay with them and become life skills just like reading, writing, and arithmetic. We are not born with these skills. In order for these skills to become part of us, they need to be put into practice regularly.

In order to learn etiquette people must take specific lessons, as opposed to learning by example or through gentle correction. Rather than learning general rules about how to behave at a dinner, someone would learn specifically about which cutlery to use when how the table of precedence works, and how to politely dispose of undesirable food items. Etiquette training also involves how to deal with introductions, and how to behave in numerous environments from funerals to all types of functions.

The field has also expanded beyond society manners. Today, many big businesses employ etiquette trainers whose job it is to teach good manners to executives. Etiquette trainers not only show business people how to dress and act – how to eat and converse in proper company, but they also train them how to become more successful in their companies and in the business world by providing lessons on such peripheral items as writing good business letters. With global society becoming much closer, executives having a background in societal and cultural differences have a much better chance not to offend as well as a greater success rate if they can demonstrate good etiquette skills. Hundreds of etiquette coaches exist in business today.

Both etiquette and manners rely on basic underlying principles which include treating people with respect, being sensitive to social situations, and making other people feel comfortable. People cannot learn etiquette without being schooled in manners, which lays the underlying groundwork for the rules of etiquette. Formal training in etiquette can be obtained through finishing schools, in which an instructor takes people through the rules of etiquette, or by reading texts which deal with etiquette and manners in particular societies.

Knowledge of etiquette and manners is never wasted. Someone with an awareness of manners and formal etiquette will be remembered, and this may come to his or her advantage in the future. Manners are empowering and are an integral part of success.Having good manners helps an individual build confidence, increase self esteem, and improve communication skills. Good manners and etiquette help people make friends more easily and create positive impressions on others. We only have one chance to make a first impression! Manners provide an extra edge that will make the difference between you and the other person.

Far too often we are preoccupied with how life affects us. Putting the needs of others before self is not only liberating, it has far-reaching benefits for the individual and the betterment of society as a whole. Giving a helping hand with a heavy package will lighten a burden. Holding the door for a stranger can be contagious. Looking a person in the eye and extending a handshake with a smile can brighten the day.

If we stop to think how our behaviour affects others, we can make better choices. In turn, a well-mannered individual will be considered gracious and stand out in the crowd, not to mention serve as a model example to others. Research shows people cannot be truly successful in relationships without civility.

When we don’t have successful relationships, it is unlikely that we will find happiness in life. Did you know that giving a compliment is like giving a gift to someone that doesn’t cost you anything? Good manners are not about doing everything perfectly right, they are about being thoughtful and using common sense, about choosing civility over rudeness.Additionally, etiquette and protocol provide the guidelines for individuals to manage social and business environments effectively. Equally important, manners create civility which helps people resolve conflict and confrontation without aggression. Practicing good manners earns respect. When we feel confident in social situations, we are able to relax, put our best foot forward and enjoy ourselves.

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