MANNERS: AN OVERVIEW
Manners and etiquette refer to the rules of social conduct, the unspoken rules followed by people in a group so as to avoid misunderstandings and show respect.
Manners, therefore, have been important for thousands and thousands of years. In ancient Egypt, a man called Ptahhotep Tshefi wrote a collection of instructions and suggestions which he said came from his grandfather, In ancient Greece and Rome, there were also rules for acceptable behaviour. In ancient China, Confucius gave instructions on how to eat and speak properly. All through history, people have known that being considerate of others was very important and that manners helped people get along with each other and avoid unnecessary conflict.
One man, Edumund Burke, said that manners were more important even than laws, because to a great extent laws are based on the behaviours considered important by a society.
Good manners have long been considered the mark of an educated person, the sign of a good-hearted person, and evidence that someone might be trustworthy.
Etiquette is slightly different than manners: it refers to specific rules particular to a specific time and place. For example, in 11th century France, using forks was considered poor etiquette and using your hands to eat was considered good etiquette. In the Middle Ages, it was considered proper etiquette to keep your hands visible on the dining table to show you didn’t have a hand on your sword.
The word ‘etiquette’ comes from an old French word for ‘ticket’, which shows that using the correct social habits can be the ticket to your acceptance in a group.
Current rules of etiquette in our society:
1. Use the little phrases of politeness: please, thank you, excuse me.
2. Look at the person who is talking to you.
3. Don’t interrupt. Don’t speak more than about four sentences in a conversation before giving someone else a chance to speak.
4. Hold doors for adults and let them go through doors before you.
5. Don’t put your elbows on tables.
6. Avoid yawning when someone is speaking, and always cover your mouth if you have to yawn.
7. Do not comb or play with your hair in public places such as stores, restaurants and classrooms.
Current rules of etiquette in schools:
1. Always move out of the way of adults.
2. Remove headphones when someone is speaking to you.
3. Do not read while someone is speaking to you.
4. Never whisper to somone when you are in a social group or when a teacher is speaking to the class.
5. Hold doors open for adults. Even if you are not going through the door yourself, hold a door open for a teacher who is carrying things.
6. Always reply when an adult speaks to you, either verbally or with a respectful nod.
Good manners require you to remember this: Do not behave too casually around adults in a school; they are neither your social friends nor your parents.