ETIQUETTE: WHY IT IS IMPORTANT

Ever visited or lived in a city where workers, neighbors, or drivers were overly rude and callous? Ever gotten mad, annoyed, sad, or stressed out from experiencing this kind of behavior? Ever felt responsible or guilty for the failure of a friendship or a group due to something you said or did?

elegant woman on swing contemplating why etiquette is importantEtiquette is more than knowing which fork to use and how to properly sit in a chair. It’s more than knowing how to appear refined. Etiquette at its core is about providing people a way to create a better society and a happier community. How? By offering a guide – a list of rules on how people should behave with others, how people should behave with other people’s properties, and how people should behave with themselves

If you were to read an etiquette book and contemplate the reasons behind each rule, you will find that respect, kindness, and consideration guide the majority of the rules. Without these three characteristics practiced often by a sufficient number of people, society would slowly decay to one of chaos, anger, hate, violence, and disrespect. For this reason and many more, etiquette is important.

Here are some examples to further illustrate the reasons behind practicing etiquette.

Rule: Do not talk with your mouth full of food.

Reason: Talking with your mouth full of food leaves you open to many mishaps. For example, if you have food in your mouth, you are more likely to spit some of it into the face of another while talking. You are also more likely to choke on your food or have a coughing fit as it is ingested the wrong way. And you are more likely to give a view of masticated food in your mouth. Have you ever seen someone talking with a mouth full of chocolate candy? Some sights are better left unseen.

Rule: Do not bring your pet to any home you are visiting, unless the hostess invites your pet.

Reason: In this case, pets usually refer to dogs and cats. The behaviour of cats and dogs can be unpredictable as well as people’s reaction to them. You cannot control if a dog will have a barking fit or if a cat will jump onto a couch. And think how discomforting it would be for your hostess to have her rug urinated on, sofa scratched, or figurine knocked over. Also bringing pets on a visit can be distracting in that both the visitor and the hostess will constantly be focusing on the pet instead of each other. This sort of distraction should be avoided unless desired by both parties.

Rule: Do not sit with your legs wide open.

Reason: This rule is meant to prevent a lady from showing her panties. It also provides a lady a guide for arranging herself on a chair. By bringing the legs together, a lady’s lower half looks smaller. This will not only improve the aesthetics of her sitting-pose, but she will also appear less dominating, thus creating a more like-able appearance. This rule also helps others. By sitting with legs closed, those across from the lady will not be distracted with a glimpse of knickers or a private area. It also helps open up room for others to sit, thus showing consideration. The wider apart the legs are, the more space taken.

Rule: Do not use the dinner fork to eat dessert when a dessert fork or spoon is provided.

Reason: If multiple utensils are provided for you to eat with, it is best you use them. Using the proper fork or spoon for a course will not only please your hostess by showing consideration for the time and effort she spent setting the table, but it will also help you enjoy your food more. Have you ever looked at your fork after eating chicken with gravy or mashed potatoes? If yes, you will know there are always remnants of your dinner on your fork once you are finished eating. To use the same fork to eat your dessert will most definitely change the taste of your dessert, at least the first couple of bites. Food is not just meant to be eaten mindlessly like a robot. It is meant to be enjoyed… savoured. And food specifically curated and served by a hostess should be given even more proper attention as a sign of appreciation and consideration.