What is Etiquette and Why?

Before I begin to answer this question, let me introduce myself.  For the past 5 years I have been the “go to etiquette gal” for American Stationery and The American Wedding.  I decided that it might be helpful to share with you the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.  Having spent the last 25 years in the stationery and wedding business – from stationery and invitation shop owner to etiquette consultant – I have found it a real challenge to take years of traditionally accepted etiquette principles  and make it work in today’s world.  I LOVE a challenge!!!!
So what is etiquette and why is it so important????  Let me share some of my views on this question. The one thing for sure is that etiquette is NOT a list of rigid, stogy, out of date rules.

Etiquette is a collection of guidelines for proper social behavior.

If we have no guidelines, our society would not know how to interact in a civil way.  In a nutshell etiquette equals good manners.  Yes, life today is much more casual seasoned with a touch of “anything goes”, but manners serve as a guide for successfully maneuvering through daily life with its many social and interpersonal interactions.  The principles of etiquette should always meet the following criteria:

Respect for others, Sincerity and Thoughtfulness.

Often I will refer to this as RST.  These criteria dove tail well with the Golden Rule .  As children you were taught such things as how to say “Thank You”, good table manners and what to call adults, etc.  Now that you are older you may need a “road map” to navigate life with all its social and business demands.  Here are a few examples of events when knowledge of etiquette comes in really handy –  weddings, parties (business and social), graduations, births (announcements/showers), anniversaries, deaths/funerals and so on.  How do you plan a wedding with all the multitude of details so you include everyone and not hurt feelings?    How do you acknowledge memorials when a loved one has passed away?  How do you write a proper thank you note for a graduation gift?  What is the proper way to monogram your stationery?  How do you address a letter to a married couple with different last names?  The list is endless.  There is one common denominator in all these situations . . . you want to do the proper and gracious thing.  No one wants to take the time to do something special and tarnish the good deed by missing a subtle detail.  

More later . . .
Ms. Carey

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