Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bits of wisdom

my hero
All one ever needs are the good manners. The rest is just silliness and snobbery valued only by bores.
Hercule Poirot

I believe there is a difference between etiquette and manners.
The first is a set of rules though established with the purpose to minimize and prevent socially awkward situations but can also serve as an elitist way to exclude certain people or groups and ostracize them for their ignorance regarding the proper use of a fish knife.
Manners on the other hand are an outward expression of internal personal values. They can never be rehearsed. At the core of good manners is the desire to be kind and inclusive and respectful.

Good manners are universal, etiquette is strictly limited to a certain social circle.


  1. aptly told!!!..totally agree

  2. What an interesting topic.
    I would not separate these two things. Good manners accept etiquettes, and etiquettes can´t be performed without good manners.
    I feel that both skills need to be practiced, as they are not exactly inherited in genes.
    Limiting etiquettes for only a small circle of people to dangle around, is imo impossible.
    I will be interested to read other comments :)

  3. I agree with metscan.

    All social constructs, etiquette included, contain within them the seeds of their own destruction which I envision as being a big sucking vortex of rivalry and desire.

    If used well, etiquette enhances social interactions. If used poorly everyone suffers.

  4. My little grey cells are liking this post, as Hercule would say!

  5. Mette: I agree there is a bit of gray area here. I'll give you an example. Brace yourself it's a long one. A few years ago I had the sad duty of attending a funeral in another country for someone who was near and dear. Different country : different funeral dress code (in essence etiquette). In Slovenia the dress code for women is black / dark business ensemble and no jewellery permitted other than wedding ring and if one wishes pearls. For men a dark suit and a white shirt with a suitable tie. And that's what Mr. C and me wore to the funeral. We definitely stuck out yet everyone knew instantly this was our way of being respectful in honouring the deceased and the family. There is also the added bit of confusion: I had the darnedest time in learning to pronounce the customary condolence phrase so I struggled through it at first in the end I just said something in Slovene, the languages being similar everyone understood. I feel this is a good example of how we displayed good manners despite the fact how we disregarded proper protocol (out of ignorance not deliberately, that would be bad manners) and nobody ostracized us either.

  6. Susan: That's another interesting angle to this dilemma. I've become increasingly intolerant to these kinds of games. As I slowly learn to find confidence within me as oppose to gaining it by others' approval I no longer care for such nonsense.

    Vanessa: oh, that's a classic, his notorious grey cells and moustache!

  7. In the UK the "upper classes" use etiquette in public in their private lives some can be excessively rude,snobbish and bad mannered.
    They also have their own private expressions that can be misunderstood by those not of the circle.

    Good manners are showing consideration for other people in all areas of social interaction.

    It is a complicated system here....HP expressed it well via Agatha Christie.

    Am with coffeaddict on this one. Ida

  8. ida: Thanks for another great example :-)