Etiquette - Is Really About Respecting Yourself And Others

What is etiquette? Is it about how we dress? Is it about how we eat our food? Is it how we treat other people? Is it about weddings and how to invite people? Is it about where people sit and who should sit where? And who should speak to whom and how and with what courtesy?

Well is that all there is to it?

Yes it is and there is much material about both in books and on the Internet describing these very details. Yet, is there not more to this. Perhaps the underlying reason why etiquette exists?

Why then?

It seems to me that etiquette really stems from how we treat ourselves. That exudes over into how we treat others. And from that the subject, the phenomena of etiquette arose.

This phenomena now describes how we should act and be in company, how we dress, how we look, how we eat, how we interact. Yet with all rules and regulations, however sensible and just and right, people have to buy into them. They have to participate for it - the phenomena - to work.

Do we buy in? Do we accept etiquette and what it means?

Well do we? Do I?

In part I do. I think we should treat one another

  • with courtesy
  • with decency
  • with respect
  • with politeness
  • good behavior

and conduct ourselves responsibly. And, to me, this is not done by humoring somebody. That is not respect. None of us like to be humored. We want to be respected. To be treated as an equal. We then respond - and things can then start happening...

But do I agree with protocol? That I don't know. Providing we treat one another with courtesy, and the rest, then that is a protocol in itself, in my eyes. Unwritten but strong nonetheless. For in so doing we would prefer, nay like, our decency to be reciprocated. And that is what makes a protocol real - a two way street.

But perhaps I misunderstand etiquette and public protocol. If I do, and you can be the judge of that, then I apologize. After all these protocols have been around longer than I have and they have lasted. (But then so have a lot of other things - and longevity does not necessarily mean fairness and goodness, justice and equanimity.)

Our own protocol? Our very own etiquette?

But at the end of the day, we either buy in or we don't to a way of living. And if we do agree then we will tend to portray this in our own way, as will each of the other people involved.

We ourselves need to decide how we wish to live. And no amount of other people telling us it should be a certain way will shake our 'method' - until or if we really experience it is better another way.It is about conduct, is it not?

Our conduct in live is very important. To conduct ourselves implies that we have a manner of being conducted or a conductor who directs our actions or guides our direction or tells us what to do and we do it or we don't . . .

Our conduct can

  • assist our behavior
  • provide guidance
  • give us control
  • convey our stance and feelings
  • help channel our enthusiasm
  • help show us the way to act and behave
  • lead and manage the way we handle situations
  • direct our deportment
  • suggest our bearing
  • regulate our actions
  • give us rules by which to interact
  • give us a strategy and direction

and help us in our day to day life.

Do we need a conductor?

That really depends on the situation. A conductor could play the role of

  • a leader showing us the way
  • a director who demonstrates as well as instructs
  • a guide revealing that which we need to know
  • a guard and escort casting light on our path
  • a propagator who imparts an important message that we need to hear

We can follow our own way or search for a leader or guide to help and assist us. We should just remember that our way may take us where we wish to go and in the manner we would like to travel and the way we would like to interact, but . . .

Advice and assistance and demonstration are very strong arguments for seeking out help when we need it.

Some general areas where we think about our actions and interactions

  • acknowledgment - of other people's actions, deeds and words
  • thanks, thank you - simple words but used less than often than they should - and we like to hear them, too
  • appreciating each other - is a sign of respect and friendship, of good manners and common decency, but appreciating another is one of the highest and noblest things you can do - but don't forget to let them know
  • supporting each other - assisting one another in life aids all
  • not taking things for granted - is easily done, but irks the provider and shows disrespect in the receiver
  • doing the right thing - be led by your heart as well as your mind
  • respect and decency - should be common to all actions and deeds
  • we rebel and do our thing - when we think that the above are not working, but we need to remember that we may have to lead the way ourselves - and let others follow

And what about us?

We have really looked, on this page so far, at etiquette, interactions, call it what you will, from the outside in. It would be revealing to look at it from the opposing direction.

To look at this subject from the inside out reveals much as well as giving meaning and purpose to not only this discussion, but also to this subject as a whole.

In order to interact well, to act well, to cooperate well, to communicate well, to do most things well, we need to be in synch and harmony with ourselves. Without a healthy dose of self respect how can participate on either a level playing field or offer or share or contribute meaningfully to life's proceedings.

And our part?

Our esteem and confidence, our self image and self worth, our motivation and achievements are all based upon how we feel about ourselves. And how we feel about ourselves impacts hugely on how we interact with others.

Life rewards those who help others and try to help others, as well as those who respect others - but these all come from respecting yourself - first.

Whether and how we do interact and its success and productivity depend on life's good graces - but this does not, nor should it, exclude our best attempts and noblest contributions to others and life. Getting the little things right, the etiquette right, can make all the difference.