Back in the eighteenth-century France, King Louis XIV used to invite people to his palace for parties and festivals. However, he became really upset when people walked all over the lawns and gardens, squishing the grass and stomping on flowers. So before the following party, he called his gardener to talk about the problem. They decided to put up little signs everywhere saying: “Please don’t walk on the flowers,” “Stay on the path” and “Be careful of the roses.” The signs guided the guests so they would know where it was okay to walk and where it wasn’t.
The word in French for the little signs was “etiquette.” Over time, the word etiquette came to mean all the little signs that help us know what to do in new and different situations. And in even more time, etiquette came to mean all the things we do to help us get along better with those we meet in our daily lives.
Etiquette intelligence is the pillar of civilised culture, and respect for the other person is the foundation for the establishment of civil society. In today’s global society, it is appalling that people no longer respect the rules of civil society and the pre-requisite social interaction that made civil society possible.
You won’t need to look for long before you see an aggressive and discourteous vehicle driver, or a commercial motorcyclist trying to swerve and manipulate his way out of traffic gridlock, thereby creating problems for the pedestrians. Indeed, social grace has never been in short supply.
There may be many reasons why we are less civil, but the results are clearly affecting the quality of our daily lives in a subtle but disturbing way. Even if you don’t invade the privacy of others, there are some people that will want to put your etiquette quotient to a test. What we all need now is a little more charm and sophistication.
Etiquette is not just about having good manners, but it should be such that you are not found wanting in any situation. It involves going the extra mile to prepare yourself to face any social interaction. For instance, if you don’t know how the difference between a black tie and a white tie event, please learn.
Etiquette which literally is a little sign or ticket, is like a tool to help you get along. And just as with all tools, you need to learn how to use them. It takes practice, practice and practice. Many things will impact your attitude every day, the key is to become aware of these obstacles and know how you can start improving your attitude.
If you are not sure of how to behave in a particular situation, just remember the golden rule of etiquette, “DO UNTO OTHERS WHAT YOU WANT THEM TO DO UNTO YOU.”
Please remember that being polite and having good manners has never and will never hurt anyone. Together, we can bring social graces back into existence which will change the social dynamics of our country.