My father taught me “Good manners cost you nothing and can buy you a lot.” As a child I really didn’t understand these words but later learned to value them. Manners and etiquette, once common classes in school, are no longer even taught at home. People no longer have time to be polite and children are no longer taught respect. This trend has carried us to an abyss of rudeness. Luckily for society this trend may be correcting itself. Today we are seeing a renewed interest in manners and etiquette.
Etiquette Early 1900s
Emily Post in her 1922 book Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home (frequently referenced as Etiquette) stated ” Proper etiquette is the means by which civilized society remains civilized. ” In her time, ill manners were not tolerated. Ill breed was the epitaph of the rude. No one, regardless of their station in life, wanted to be thought ill mannered.
Emily’s book became a best seller, spawned several other additions and launched a carrier that led to her being immortalized. Etiquette was very important and much appreciated in the early 1900s.
1950s etiquette rules soften
During the 1950s, life was good. World War II was over. Industry and entrepreneurship was booming in America and the rules of etiquette softened. People no longer paid as much attention to how you held your saucer while drinking your tea. Still, proper manners where still expected.
“Yes, Sir” and “No, Mam” were still common phrases. A gentleman still held a door for a lady and tipped his hat on the street. “Please” and “thank you” were required if you wanted to be served anywhere and “excuse me” was all that was required to move through a crowed. It was still a time of respect.
Manners take a dive 1960s-1970s
Hippies , Yippies , Free Love , Watergate, and Vietnam ; the ’60s brought many changes to society. Some were good, some not so good. Most depended on which side of a line you were standing. The questioning of authority was much in vogue.
People rebelled against their elders and against the social rules they felt represented them. For much of society being rude became a symbol of freedom. For etiquette it was a very sad time.
1980s-1990s — Respect is lost
“Generation X,” “The me generation” two of the many names that have been applied to those coming of age in the ’80s and ’90s. It was a generation lost and without a cause. I can’t agree with this analysis but can understand where it came from. In this time period, image replaced respect. Children were passed in school rather than having their self-image damaged. No one cared about the self-respect earned by doing your best. Parents became their child’s friend rather than have the image of getting old or being abusive parents.
“Yes Sir” was replaced by “yea” and we went from “Boy if you don’t” to “I’m asking you nice, please.” Image doesn’t breed respect and all etiquette is based on respect.
Etiquette and manners make a comeback 2000-
Today good manners are making a comeback. Businesses are demanding proper office etiquette. Many restaurants will now ask you to leave if you show poor manners dealing with their staff. If you can’t test high for proper email etiquette, forget a clerical position. Netiquette is the new word and in today’s world you had better know it. If you don’t believe it, check the archives of almost any business magazine. I will bet you’ll find more than one article on manners and etiquette in the last year. Want further proof look at these numbers.
Searches on youtube.com:
- Good manners 161,000
- Etiquette 612,000
- Manners guide 475,000
- Etiquette guide 615,000
That’s a lot of video just for proper behavior. People want to know everything from proper wedding etiquette to lab dance manners. Yes, apparently there is proper etiquette for getting and giving a lap dance. Still not convinced then look at this list.
Search results from Google:
- Manners 31.7 million
- Netiquette 10.4 million
- Etiquette 102 million
Good manners and proper etiquette are once again at a premium. If you can’t conduct yourself properly at a business dinner you won’t be working for long. If you can’t compose proper communications your carrier will be even shorter. “Good manners cost you nothing and can buy you a lot.” Words of wisdom from a man born the year Emily Post published her first book on etiquette.
For more on manners and netiquette:
Emily post- http://www.emilypost.com/everyday-manners
Virginia Shea- http://www.albion.com/netiquette/index.html