image courtesy of WallyHood.org
Emily Post wrote in 1922 that “One who possesses truly fine manners has more than mere beauty; she has infinite charm. She is so well born that she is charming to everyone. Her manner to a Duke who happens to be staying in the house is not a bit more courteous than her manner to the kitchen maid who she chances to meet in the gardens”
Manners are merely tools to help us live a code (of kindness and consideration). Beneath its myriad rules, the fundamental purpose of etiquette is to make the world a pleasanter place and you a more pleasant person. First, they smooth the paths between us and other people, to establish a pleasant relationship from the first – that’s why introductions, “pleases” and “Thank yous” are so important. Second, knowing the guidelines of good manners gives us self- confidence. We are more comfortable if we know what to do. And Third, manners make us more attractive people. A dinner guest who engages in animated conversation with asparagus spears protruding from his mouth isn’t very attractive. And who doesn’t want to look better in the eyes of others?
“The purpose of manners is to make the other person comfortable with you, to establish rapport so the person is happy about being with you. ”As Professor Henry Higgins put it in Pygmalion, “The great secret is not having bad manners or good manners, but having the same manners for all human souls”