Are Etiquette And Manners The Same Thing?

Are etiquette and manners the same thing? Etiquette and manners are basically the same thing: showing respect for others and treating yourself with respect at the same time. Many people are confused by the...

Many people are confused by the question of whether etiquette and manners are the same thing. Maura Graber, who has been teaching manners to children and adults for 15 years and is the director of The R.S.V.P. Institute of Etiquette, offers some background information on the two terms and their definitions: "The word 'etiquette' originally meant 'ticket' or 'label'. It still does (translate to that) in French and in Spanish... The basic etiquette or manners of today that we consider to be proper in the United States and in Europe were invented for capitalistic purposes by European men, hundreds of years ago. The nobility of the time did not want to offend others with whom they were doing business throughout the rest of the world... Our usage in the U.S. of the word 'etiquette' comes from the courtyards of Old Europe, when a ticket or label was posted for anyone who entered to read. It basically listed what we would today consider the 'house rules.' A comparison of this would be if you went to a hotel and saw the rules listed for the hotel pool outside. Those rules, the 'etiquette', are the 'manners' that are expected of people using that pool."


So, are etiquette and manners the same thing? According to Maura "Basically yes...'Manners' will vary from place to place. 'Etiquette' is simply defining what those manners are." Essentially, proper etiquette is what is expected of us in order to be seen as respectful during a specific situation or around certain people and having manners is the way in which those rules are defined. To explain further, a formal dinner party in Texas may be quite different from one in New York City. The way you should dress, how early you should arrive, how late you should stay and the topics of your conversations etc. The "proper etiquette" of different circles of society varies. You may be able to wear jeans and a t-shirt to a barbecue with your friends although that might be considered in very poor taste at a business luncheon with clients. Simply, proper etiquette is the rules you must follow, in a given situation, in order to be viewed as having good manners. Having good manners is simply doing your best to follow those rules of proper etiquette.




As you can see, the two words are quite interchangeable and without one you cannot have the other. If you think on it for awhile, it is not as confusing as it first appears. Most aspects of social grace are based on common sense. You wouldn't tell a risqué' joke during a church gathering or wear a pair of cut-off shorts to your faculty Christmas party. Maura Graber adds that you should, "Always open doors for other people, especially if someone is carrying a heavy bag or something. Another would be that it is only appropriate to bring children to an event when the children are invited."

If you move to a new area and are invited to a formal function or if you ever face a new circumstance where you are not sure of what is considered proper, Maura advises, "If you have any doubt in your mind, regarding the etiquette or manners expected of you in any given situation, you need to check. Then follow those rules to the letter."

As Maura says, "The bottom line of etiquette and manners is showing respect for others and treating yourself with respect at the same time."

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