Etiquette to Please

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

Culture and Kindness Through the Ages

Learning rules for etiquette and how to be kind usually come from our parents. The word ‘etiquette’ and rules for etiquette were first established within the French royal court between 1600-1700. Etiquette has since manifested to the unwritten rules for etiquette which we have today. Some of these still are in place, while overall etiquette, in many ways, has become much less formal.

How far does society go before it is realized that offensive words and actions really are inappropriate? Tolerability becomes acceptance and then acceptance becomes the standard. Eventually, the standard becomes engrained in culture, far removed from the initial level of what was acceptable. “Is acceptable now” and “was acceptable before”, if compared side by side would make the differences between the two more obvious—so much so that we might even instantly correct ourselves. It is not often this is reflected on. Perhaps looking at the masters of politeness, today’s experts on manners and respect, can serve as new-found consciences to help hone in on etiquette practices which have fallen away and are relevant to today’s culture. Today’s speech and actions may seem preferred because they are casual and candid, but the truth is, they are often times more damaging and unkind. There is a digression of culture in respectfulness toward one another that has been caused as a result of this.

The understanding of common etiquette has been contributed to by many world cultures over the course of human existence. As far back as 2400 BC, the Egyptians had rules written in a book including how to interact with superiors. Small polite phrases such as “Bless you” originated as early as 590 AD when Pope Gregory ordered that each person who sneezes be blessed, because of the Plague. In 1290 AD, a Milanese monk, named Bonvicino da Riv, wrote a book called, Fifty Courtesies of the Table, which covered manners at the table while eating. Many of these same manners we follow even today such as eating with a closed mouth, not picking your teeth, and turn your head when coughing and sneezing.

Establishing practices for good manners and politeness was even more in place in France at the time of King Louis XIV. In the 1600s, at Versailles, King Louis XIV’s gardener was working in the garden. The garden has signs in place to indicate where not to walk as he was working. These signs were called ‘etiquette’ in French, or ‘place cards’. Despite having these signs in place, the aristocrats walked where they pleased. King Louis XIV ordered that the etiquette boundaries must be observed. Following this, the word ‘etiquette’ became the phrase for boundaries within the court.

Within our own country, George Washington, wrote a book on Rules of Civility. In 1922, Emily Post published Etiquette—In Society, In Business, In Politics and At Home. Judith Martin, or “Ms. Manners” is well-known today for her column and books as a guide to good manners. Peggy Post, Emily’s great-granddaughter wrote a book, The Etiquette Advantage in Business: Personal Skills for Professional Success, and also has several books on Internet etiquette.

Wisdom can be found from lessons of etiquette and manners formed over the course of history. Practicing good etiquette is always the best policy for kindness, politeness, and respectfulness, which improves the culture of society. When speaking, here are a few easy suggestions to remember for practicing good etiquette:

• Speak softly
• Always answer when someone speaks to you
• Remember to use “Excuse me”, “Please”, and “Thank you”
• Be sincere in giving and receiving compliments  
• Respect the personal space and beliefs of the other person
• Realize the human dignity of all people and be respectful

[written for @cultureofkind]


Search for these on Amazon! Shop online…

Books
George Washington’s Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation
(Little Books of Wisdom)

by George Washington

Etiquette—In Society, In Business, In Politics and At Home
by Emily Post

The Etiquette Advantage in Business: Personal Skills for Professional Success
by Emily Post

Movies
Miss Congeniality
Starring: Sandra BullockMichael CaineBenjamin Bratt

Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous
Starring: Sandra BullockRegina KingEnrique Murciano

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