by Debbie Alford
It’s the age old question, isn’t it?
You’ve probably heard someone say “In my day we would never have done that!” You might even have said it yourself.
The world changes and so do our lifestyles and the behaviours that go with it. We live a much more casual and relaxed lifestyle than our grandparents did. We live in a more multi-cultural society and are far better travelled than our grandparents. This sort of change is bound to bring with it some changes to our behaviour and in turn, to manners and etiquette.
Manners are the standards of behaviour which show that we are polite, and respectable people. They are the ‘norms’ of regular social interaction. Manners aren’t something we are born with. We have to learn them from our parents and through living in the world. We learn to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and to wait our turn. We are taught not to eat our food with our fingers and that belching in public is not socially acceptable.
Etiquette, on the other hand, is a whole different ball game. It’s a set of social standards that apply to specific situations. Etiquette tells us how to behave at a formal dinner or when meeting a person of importance. Etiquette tells us which set of manners we are required to use in specific social situations.
Are good manners and etiquette missing in today’s society? Or is it that in today’s society there is a more diverse set of norms and social situations?
The tendency is to say yes, based on what we see in the news, our use of manners and etiquette has slipped. We seem to be very casual about whether or not to bother with them.
But next time you stand at the coffee bar or deli counter waiting for your turn to order, pay attention to what goes on around you. I guarantee you will see good manners and social etiquette as the people waiting with you check to see that they aren’t queue jumping.
I don’t think manners and etiquette are missing. I think they have just changed their appearance to fit the modern world.
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