Outline I Introduction A definition B people’s impression 1 formal impression 2 common impression C thesis II History of Etiquette A old British style B Post family 1 original 2 extended C how rules have changed from old style / new ones not used III Kinds of Etiquette A common sense aspect B formal aspects 1 social 2 business IV How and when it is used A when the right time is B what situations require a change 1 indicators 2 parallel good Personal view A what things are really important B why etiquette is relative 1 right to some / wrong to others 2 some expect more than others 3 situations can be perceived different ways VI Conclusion A re-discussion of why it is relative (from intro. & part V) B usefulness of defined rules 1 narrow situations 2 good common ones C re-statement / support from paper Websters Ninth collegiate dictionary defines etiquette as “The conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority to be observed in social or official life.” What this tells us is that those who are bred well, and feel that others are, have certain expectations of those people. If said people don’t meet those undefined standards of good breeding, then their etiquette is at fault. The other part of the definition describes etiquette as being prescribed by authority. There are times when a set of rules are laid out for a specific occasion. When this is not defined, one must decide what action or set of actions is appropriate.
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It reminds me of the saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Yet if I were to go to Rome, I’ll still be American, and would have to decide if being in Rome is worth acting like a Roman. Emily Post (whom I will discuss) said “Etiquette is common sense – a code of behavior based on thoughtfulness.” (Hatfield, 61) It’s all very confusing, but there is only one way to look at the whole picture. Etiquette can only be defined in terms of oneself; though rules are available, they are seldom known, and it is a personal decision and preference often depending on one’s situation. Back in old times of Kings and Queens ruling the serfs, Etiquette was the way of life. Each person had a role which they upheld, and it was well defined. Written laws, such as appropriate public attire, or proper worship practices governed what today would be considered a personal choice.
(Carlson, 49) Everyone knew his or her place. They were expected to act a certain way to one person, and another to someone else. With the development of the middle class, there was a need for rules of etiquette to define those of the upper class; it had become more difficult to differentiate between the socialite upper class and those of the developing middle class. As time has gone by, such strict rules have eroded. Etiquette is slowly being replaced with manners, which are optional in most people’s eyes. Emily Post wrote the first official book of etiquette in 1922 upon the suggestion of Frank Crowninshield of Vanity Fair (Hatfield, 61).
It was meant to be a guide for the upper class. The book went over well, and was commonly referred to (Hatfield, 61).
Post’s daughter, Elizabeth, carried on the tradition with re-publishing’s and rewriting her mother’s famous book. In recent years, Elizabeth Post’s daughter-in law, Peggy, has written books and published CD roms on the subject (Hatfield, 61).
Post claims that .”..
etiquette books are really about appropriate manners, not meaningless ritual. (Hatfield, 61) ” Having read from front to back the Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette, such a claim seems a far stretch. Etiquette, whether forced, implied or otherwise, always changes depending upon one’s situation. For social situations, there are rules which may be followed, but don’t always pertain.
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” Rules for behavior in these situations are not imposed by social leaders, but created by people whose circumstances made them confined and forced to extend the bounds of social behavior” (Dunnan).
When people are being “entertained” it is said that that implies food (Miller, 21).
And food, in turn, implies that there must be two forks, no matter what (Kennedy, 34).
None of this would pertain to a Superbowl party where the guests bring their own beer and cook on the grill.
Though physical formalities are not always expected to be followed, most guests would expect some degree of respect from their host. Because entertaining means something different to everyone, one single set of rules cannot govern all parties. Similar to a social occasion, business engagements have a set of laws to be governed by. These rules are more closely followed, though, because meetings involving business relationships are more formal. For instance, when meeting a potential or new business partner, a business card should be given (Kenedy, 34).
These should never be given otherwise, unless asked for.
“Your friends know where to find you, and the rest of the world doesn’t matter (Kenedy, 34).” When socializing in a business setting, the rules of conduct are shifted slightly. A more formal composure is expected to be taken on. Arguments are to be avoided at all times, and any inclination to one commonly results in unnecessary ill-feelings (Dunnan 27).
A civil manner on all topics is taken, regardless of personal feeling. Confrontations of that nature are reserved for official actions or hearings on a particular problem. It is often hard to tell how one is expected to act in a given situation; it all depends on the destination, who is there, and how one feels comfortable.
A good indicator of when people are required to change their behavior is when they are asked to change anything else. If a situation requires a change of clothing, it most likely means that their present state is not acceptable for the upcoming event. Also, if an individual needs to change their clothes to go somewhere, it may not be a place where that person will be comfortable. In general, knowing some of the basic rules of etiquette can make us more comfortable (Miller, 23).
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First impressions still are very important. Simple things like shaking hands and smiling in any situation can never be bad.
If a situation arises that is exceeds one’s social experience, a decision as to the necessity of attendance must be made. If it is important enough to change one’s disposition, then a new attitude can be taken on, but it may not seem necessary, and there are other options. It is said that “The effective use of language is central easing one’s way through life. 1 ” This is very accurate, but if effective language is not at one’s disposal, it is a poor option to attempt to imitate it. A change of attitude may be extreme, and one may decide not to be bothered with impressing others, or looking acceptable for one’s company.
Not conforming to a situation that is not understood or familiar may be better than trying to act what seems correct. Etiquette can only be defined in terms of oneself; though rules are available, they are seldom known, and it is a personal decision and preference often depending on one’s situation. While I have had no trouble finding rules to govern any conceivable aspect of life, many such rules seem useless in everyday life. Things such as “please” and “thank-you” are much more pertinent to social success than knowing how to address an unmarried host with two children. It’s rules like these that many etiquette experts harp on, when often, the simple courtesies are over-looked.
Another problematic loophole in the ways of personal conduct is that what may seem acceptable to one person would not to another. Everyone has different expectations of people, and it is difficult to know how to compose oneself in unfamiliar company. Bibliography Miller, Margo. “Living by the book” Time 18 August 1989; 23 Kennedy, Louise.” Difficulties of Etiquette in America’s Democracy” Time 30 July 1990: 34 Hatfield Julie.
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“A New Post Inherits Etiquette” Time 8 August 1994: 61 Dunnan, Nancy, and Nancy Tucker man The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette New York: Doubleday, 1995 Axtell, Roger Do’s and Taboo’s Elmsford: Parker Pen Company, 1995 Carlson, Dale and Dan Fitzgibbon Manners That Matter for People under 21 New York: E. P. Dutton, 1983.