In High-Change in Bond Street,—ou—la Politesse du Grande Monde (1796), James Gillray caricatured the lack of etiquette in a group of men leering at women and crowding them off a pavement.

Etiquette (play /ˈɛtɨkɛt/ or /ˈɛtɨkɪt/, French: [e.ti.kɛt]) is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group. The French word étiquette, literally signifying a tag or label first appeared in English around 1750.[1]



Like culture, etiquette is a word that has gradually grown to become plural, especially in a multi-ethnic society with many clashing expectations. Thus, it is now possible to refer to "an etiquette" or "a culture", realizing that these may not be universal. In Britain, the word "etiquette" has been described as the one word that aptly describes life during the reign of Queen Victoria.[2]

Rules of etiquette

Rules of etiquette encompass most aspects of social interaction in any society, though the term itself is not commonly used. A rule of etiquette may reflect an underlying ethical code, or it may reflect a person's fashion or status. Rules of etiquette are usually unwritten, but aspects of etiquette have been codified from time to time.


Manners involve a wide range of social interactions within cultural norms as in the "comedy of manners", or a painter's characteristic "manner". Etiquette and manners, like mythology, have buried histories especially when they seem to have little obvious purpose, and their justifications as logical ("respect shown to others" etc.) may be equally revealing to the social historian.

Western office and business etiquette

The etiquette of business is the set of written and unwritten rules of conduct that make social interactions run more smoothly. Office etiquette in particular applies to coworker interaction, excluding interactions with external contacts such as customers and suppliers. When conducting group meetings in the United States, the assembly might follow Robert's Rules of Order, if there are no other company policies to control a meeting.

Both office and business etiquette overlap considerably with basic tenets of netiquette, the social conventions for using computer networks. It is the social Behaviour.. These rules are often echoed throughout an industry or economy. For instance, 49% of employers surveyed in 2005 by the American National Association of Colleges and Employers found that non-traditional attire would be a "strong influence" on their opinion of a potential job candidate.[3]

Adjusting to foreign etiquettes is a major complement of culture shock, providing a market for manuals.[4]



The Japanese are very formal. Moments of silence are far from awkward. Smiling doesn’t always mean that the individual is expressing pleasure. Business cards are to be handed out formally following this procedure: Hand card with writing facing upwards; bow when giving and receiving the card; grasp it with both hands; read it carefully; and put it in a prominent place. The Japanese feel a “Giri” an obligation to reciprocate a gesture of kindness. They also rely on an innate sense of right and wrong.

Conversation Business Dining Leisure

• Bow when greeting someone.

• Do not display emotion.

• Do not speak too loudly.

• The Japanese have difficulty in saying no.

• Do not blow your nose in public.

• Do not stand with your hands in your pocket.

• Displaying an open mouth is rude.

• Bow in greeting.

• Females should avoid heels.

• Exchange business cards.

• Moments of silence are normal.

• Do not slouch.

• Cross legs at the ankles.

• Do not interrupt, listen carefully.

• Do not chew gum.

• It is acceptable to make noise while eating.

• Food is judged by not only the taste but also the consistency.

• Try any food that is given to you.

• Rice left in your bowl indicates the desire for second helpings.

• If someone offers you sake, drink.

• Remove shoes before entering homes and restaurants.

• To beckon a person extend hand palm down and make a scratching motion.

• The Japanese wear surgical masks when they have a cold.

• Men sit cross-legged and women sit on their legs or with their legs to the side.

Some DO's and DONT’s: • DO NOT mix sake with any other alcohol. • DO NOT stash away a business card in a pocket or in a place where it is likely to be misplaced or damaged. • DO look at the business card when given, and try to say something genuinely nice about it (colors, font, raised lettering, etc.)


Kenyans believe that their tribal identity is very important. Kenyans are also very nationalistic. It is rare that you will find a Kenyan that prefers to be alone, most of the time they are very friendly and welcoming of guests. Kenyans are very family oriented.

Conversation Business Dining Leisure
• The handshake is the common greeting. • Use right hand to receive gifts. • Eating is taken very seriously. • You must ask permission in taking pictures of people.
• Engage in small talk. • Personal references are highly respected. • Eating is usually done in silence. • Kenyans operate on “Swahili Time”.
• Kenyans do not like to say “No” or “Yes”. • Be prepared: meetings are a lengthy affair. • Lunch is the most important meal of the day.
• Be humorous. • Hand out a business card. • The evening meal tends to be light.
• Laugh readily. • Most Kenyans prefer to make group decisions • Traditional foods are eaten without utensils using the left hand.
Make diligent follow up calls.

Cultural differences

Hunting Lice by Candlelight, Andries Both (Dutch, ca.1612/13–1641)

Etiquette is dependent on culture; what is excellent etiquette in one society may shock another. Etiquette evolves within culture. The Dutch painter Andries Both shows that the hunt for head lice (illustration, right), which had been a civilized grooming occupation in the early Middle Ages, a bonding experience that reinforced the comparative rank of two people, one groomed, one groomer, had become a peasant occupation by 1630. The painter portrays the familiar operation matter-of-factly, without the disdain this subject would have received in a 19th-century representation.

Etiquette can vary widely between different cultures and nations. For example, in Hausa culture, eating while standing may be seen as offensively casual and ill-omened behavior, insulting the host and showing a lack of respect for the scarcity of food -- the offense is known as "eating with the devil" or "committing santi." In China, a person who takes the last item of food from a common plate or bowl without first offering it to others at the table may be seen as a glutton who is insulting the host's generosity. Traditionally, if guests do not have leftover food in front of them at the end of a meal, it is to the dishonour of the host. In America a guest is expected to eat all of the food given to them, as a compliment to the quality of the cooking. However, it is still considered polite to offer food from a common plate or bowl to others at the table.

In such rigid hierarchal cultures as Korea and Japan, alcohol helps to break down the strict social barrier between classes. It allows for a hint of informality to creep in. It is traditional for host and guest to take turns filling each other's cups and encouraging each other to gulp it down. For someone who does not consume alcohol (except for religious reasons), it can be difficult escaping the ritual of the social drink.[5]

Etiquette is a topic that has occupied writers and thinkers in all sophisticated societies for millennia, beginning with a behavior code by Ptahhotep, a vizier in ancient Egypt's Old Kingdom during the reign of the Fifth Dynasty king Djedkare Isesi (ca. 2414–2375 BC). All known literate civilizations, including ancient Greece and Rome, developed rules for proper social conduct. Confucius included rules for eating and speaking along with his more philosophical sayings.

Early modern conceptions of what behavior identifies a "gentleman" were codified in the 16th century, in a book by Baldassare Castiglione, Il Cortegiano ("The Courtier"); its codification of expectations at the Este court remained in force in its essentials until World War I. Louis XIV established an elaborate and rigid court ceremony, but distinguished himself from the high bourgeoisie by continuing to eat, stylishly and fastidiously, with his fingers. An important book about etiquette is Galateo, overo de' costumi by Monsignor Giovanni della Casa; in fact, in Italian, etiquette is generally called galateo (or etichetta or protocollo).

As noted above, across the world, Debrett's is considered by many to be the arbiter of etiquette; its guides to manners and form have long been and continue to be the last word among polite society[citation needed]

In the American colonies Benjamin Franklin and George Washington wrote codes of conduct for young gentlemen. The immense popularity of advice columns and books by Letitia Baldrige and Miss Manners shows the currency of this topic. Even more recently, the rise of the Internet has necessitated the adaptation of existing rules of conduct to create Netiquette, which governs the drafting of e-mail, rules for participating in an online forum, and so on.

In Germany, many books dealing with etiquette, especially dining, dressing etc., are called the Knigge, named after Adolph Freiherr Knigge who wrote the book Über den Umgang mit Menschen (On Human Relations) in the late 18th century. However, this book is about good manner and also about the social states of its time, but not about etiquette.

Etiquette may be wielded as a social weapon. The outward adoption of the superficial mannerisms of an in-group, in the interests of social advancement rather than a concern for others, is considered by many a form of snobbery, lacking in virtue.

See also

Etiquette and language

Etiquette and society

Worldwide etiquette


  1. ^ OED, "Etiquette".
  2. ^ "Tudor Rose" (1999–2010). "Victorian Society". Retrieved August 9, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Blue hair, body piercings--do employers care?". Grab Bag. Occupational Outlook Quarterly. Fall 2006. Retrieved August 9, 2010. 
  4. ^ De Mente, Boyd (1994). Chinese Etiquette & Ethics in Business. Lincolnwood: NTC Business Books. ISBN 0844285242. 
  5. ^ Mitchell, Charles (1999). Short Course in International Business Culture. San Rafael: World Trade Press. ISBN 1885073542. 

Further reading

  • Serres, Jean (2010). Practical Handbook of Protocol. 3 avenue Pasteur – 92400 Courbevoie, France: Editions de la Bièvre. pp. 474. ISBN 2905955043.  Originally published in 1947
  • Serres, Jean (2010). "Manuel Pratique de Protocole", XIe Edition. 3 avenue Pasteur – 92400 Courbevoie, France: Editions de la Bièvre. pp. 478. ISBN 2905955031.  Originally published in 1947
  • Tuckerman, Nancy (1995). The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette. Garden City: Doubleday. ISBN 0385413424.  Originally published in 1952, this and Emily Post's book were the U.S. etiquette bibles of the '50s–'70s era.
  • Debrett's Correct Form. Debrett's Ltd. 2006. ISBN 1870520882. 
  • Bryant, Jo (2008). Debrett's A–Z of Modern Manners. Debrett's Ltd. ISBN 1870520750. 
  • Marsh, Peter (1988). Eye to Eye. Tospfield: Salem House Publishers. ISBN 0881623717. 
  • From Clueless to Class Act, series of books on etiquette, by Jodi Smith deals with proper etiquette for men and women.
  • Johnson, Dorothea (1997). The Little Book of Etiquette. Protocol School of Washington. Philadelphia: Running Press. pp. 127. ISBN 978-0-7624-0009-6. [A pocket-sized, take-along reference book for the user's convenience. Lay summary]. 
  • Martin, Judith (2005). Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, Freshly Updated. W.W. Norton & Co.. pp. 858. ISBN 0-393-05874-3. 
  • Baldrige, Letitia (2003). New Manners for New Times: A Complete Guide to Etiquette. New York: Scribner. pp. 709. ISBN 0-7432-1062-X. 
  • Brown, Robert E.; Dorothea Johnson (2004). The Power of Handshaking for Peak Performance Worldwide. Herndon, Virginia: Capital Books, Inc.. pp. 98. ISBN 1-931868-88-3. 
  • Secrets of Seasoned Professionals: They learned the hard way so you don't have to, by Kelly A. Tyler, Fired Up Publishing (2008), ISBN 978-0-9818298-0-7, 146 pages.
  • Town & Country Modern Manners: The Thinking Person's Guide to Social Graces, by Thomas P. Farley, Hearst Books (September 2005), ISBN 1-58816-454-3, 256 pages.
  • Manners That Sell: Adding the Polish that Builds Profits, by Lydia Ramsey, Longfellow Press (2007), 978-0967001203, 188 pages.
  • Socially Smart in 60 Seconds: Etiquette Do's and Don'ts for Personal and Professional Success", by Deborah Smith Pegues, Harvest House Publishers (2009), ISBN 978-0-7369-2050-6.
  • The Britiquette Series: The Must-Have Guide to Posh Nosh Table Manners (66 pages) and The Slightly Rude But Much Needed Guide to Social Grace & Good Manners (101 pages), by Elaine Grace, (2007), (EBooks).
  • Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work by Jacqueline Whitmore, St. Martin's Press (2005), ISBN 0312338090, 198 pages.

External links

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(of behavior, as that set down on a card or ticket on the occasion of ceremonies at court), , , ,

Look at other dictionaries:

  • étiquette — [ etikɛt ] n. f. • estiquette « poteau de but » 1387, mot picard; de l a. v. estiquer « attacher, ficher », néerl. stikken, frq. °stikkan; cf. astiquer, ticket I ♦ 1 ♦ (1549) Dr. Vx Écriteau sur le dossier d un procès, portant les noms du… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Etiquette — Étiquette Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom …   Wikipédia en Français

  • etiquette — ETIQUETTE. s. f. Petit escriteau qu on met, qu on attache sur un sac de procés, contenant les noms du demandeur, & du deffendeur, du Procureur &c. Il faut mettre une etiquette à ce sac. On dit fig. & prov. Juger, condamner sur l etiquette du sac …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • etiquette — et‧i‧quette [ˈetɪket ǁ kət] noun [uncountable] the formal rules for behaviour: • the professional rules of etiquette imposed by the Law Society • Business etiquette (= rules for behaviour by businesspeople ) is still very important in corporate… …   Financial and business terms

  • Etiquette — Et i*quette , n. [F. prop., a little piece of paper, or a mark or title, affixed to a bag or bundle, expressing its contents, a label, ticket, OF.estiquete, of German origin; cf. LG. stikke peg, pin, tack, stikken to stick, G. stecken. See… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • etiquette — 1750, from Fr. étiquette prescribed behavior, from O.Fr. estiquette label, ticket (see TICKET (Cf. ticket)). The sense development in French perhaps is from small cards written or printed with instructions for how to behave properly at court (Cf …   Etymology dictionary

  • etiquette — ► NOUN ▪ the code of polite behaviour in a society. ORIGIN French, list of ceremonial observances of a court , also label, etiquette , from Old French estiquette (see TICKET(Cf. ↑ticket)) …   English terms dictionary

  • etiquette — [et′i kit, et′iket] n. [Fr étiquette, lit., TICKET] 1. the forms, manners, and ceremonies established by convention as acceptable or required in social relations, in a profession, or in official life 2. the rules for such forms, manners, and… …   English World dictionary

  • ETIQUETTE — (Heb. דֶּרֶךְ־אֶרֶץ, derekh ereẓ), the proper conduct of man at home and in society. The sages demanded of the Jew, particularly the scholar, good manners in all his activities. The rules of derekh ereẓ are assembled in the tractates Avot, Derekh …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Etiquette — (fr., spr. Etikett), 1) die Aufschrift, Anschrift an etwas; 2) das Zettelchen, das man an die Waaren heftet, enthält außer der Angabe der Qualität auch wohl Ein u. Verkaufspreis. Auch Pflanzen u. junge Bäume pflegt man mit E n zu versehen, worauf …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Etiquette — Etiquette, s. Etikette …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

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