Established, since 1997, leading UK based training provider.

Communication Skills: Etiquette and Politeness

Communication Skills: Etiquette and Politeness

I would like to recommend a book to you. It is called, "The Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness", by Cecil B. Hartley. It was written way back in 1860 and it is a great read.

Etiquette is a set of rules for polite and considered speech and behaviour.

Some people do have a wonderful appreciation of politeness and a refined sense of etiquette and sadly, some people don't.

Question: Do you know anyone with a complete lack of etiquette and what effect does this person have on the others?

The Book of Etiquette and Politeness makes a distinction between etiquette and politeness. Here is an extended quote from the book which I have modified to update the language slightly.

"There is a difference between etiquette and politeness.

  • Politeness is an attitude of mind, and as such, it may exist in anyone.
  • Etiquette is the outward expression of politeness reduced to a set of formal rules, which are current in a society.

It is interesting to note that a person may be polite, in the heart, yet may show in every movement an ignorance of the rules of etiquette, and offend against the laws of society. You may find him with his elbows on the table, or laughing too loudly, or tilting back his chair, in a parlour.

Although you may see him commit gross breaches of etiquette; you will never hear him intentionally utter one word to wound another, and you will see that he habitually endeavours to make others more comfortable.

Such a man will learn by his daily contact with others, that his ignorance of the rules of etiquette makes him, at times, slightly disagreeable company. But from his good and unselfish inner motive, he will watch and learn quickly and almost by instinct he will drop, one by one, his errors in etiquette and become more cultured.

On the other hand, you may meet a man whose polish of manner is exquisite. He will perform the minutest point of the niceties of good manners, and obey the strictest rules of etiquette, yet underneath this mask of gallantry he carries a cold heart.

The cold hearted man carries a willingness to wound deeply the feelings of others, while acting all the time with elegance of manner; he is in feeling as cruel and barbarous as a dog.

Real politeness is the outward expression of the most generous impulse of the heart. It enforces benevolence and kindness and the enactment of the Golden Rule: 'Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you'.

Thus the first principle in politeness and good etiquette is to show respect for your neighbour".

If you are interested in reading more, then there are two versions of this book available:

The Ladies' Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness by Florence Hartley and

The Gentlemen's Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness by Cecil B Hartley

Communication Skills Training

Communication Skills Training

Do you ever think to yourself, "I know what I mean, but I can't explain it"? You need to be able communicate facts, feelings, information and ideas, in a clear, professional and confident manner. If you want to learn more about our communication skills training, please click here.

Your Comments

Further Reading in Communication - Persuasive Communication

  • Impression Management
    First impressions do count. With a little thought, you can leave a positive impression in the minds of people you meet.
    Read Article >
  • Communication skills - How to give Constructive criticism
    How to give Constructive criticism Constructive criticism is important for everyone. Constructive criticism (i.e. critical feed-back) can be used to continually improve the performance of the team. But giving constructive criticism is a skilled art: Some people cannot give constructive criticism: they make it sound like an insult. Some people can...
    Read Article >
  • Communication skills training - First impressions do count
    First impressions count People say, "You should not judge a book by its cover." Maybe that's true. Maybe people should not judge a book by its cover. But the point is, they do. People do judge books by covers. They have to. It is the only information they have available. In...
    Read Article >
  • How to change someone's mind
    If you want to change someone's mind about their belief in something, don't challenge the idea itself, but the validity of the source of the belief.
    Read Article >
  • Communication skills - Common tactics of negotiators
    Communication skills: Common tactics of negotiators What is negotiation? Negotiation is a specialised form of communication that involves two or more groups, each acting in their own self-interest, and each recognising that, to achieve their own self-interest, they need to trade with others, and therefore, must be able to create and...
    Read Article >