The Difference Between Etiquette and Manners

So this topic may not have much to do with Steampunk art and creation but it may just be one of the most important ones can think of in general.
My siblings and I were raised to have proper etiquette. It was just the way it was in our house; we set the table a specific way, sat down to dinner together, were lectured on how to eat, taught how to walk, always said our please and thank yous. All the basics. But, as I said, it was always just how things were. I knew the how but was never really taught the why.
A few years ago I was working with a mentor. A very wonderful and brilliant woman. We had a conversation about etiquette and manners. I told her that I wanted to teach my (future) children manners and etiquette as I know it is so important but was still having trouble in the why. She told me something I will never forget- Etiquette is the learning of what to do in specific situations, such as: how to hold your fork and when to open a door. Etiquette helps us navigate our world, it creates societal rules and common codes of conduct. However, the far greater of these is manners. Manners, my mentor said, are how we show other people that we care about them. This was such an epiphany for me. And the more I rolled it over in my head the more I loved it! I do care about people on a large scale. I try to be a person that loves the world and shows it. I've always been quick with a smile and polite with hellos, and pleases and thank yous. But thinking of it as a way of showing others that I genuinely care about them as another human being was very powerful for me.
Etiquette and manners can go hand in hand but they don't always. One of my best friends hasn't the slightest clue the difference between a dinner fork, salad fork or shrimp fork but I have always felt comfortable and respected in her presence. She truly shows her care and appreciation for those around her. Meanwhile I have friends who were raised like little debutantes and they make every event look perfect and know what to wear and how to walk and can recite you etiquette straight from the book still being around them is nearly nauseating.
You don't have to study Emily Post to learn how to treat people with dignity and respect. We learn in kindergarten to follow the golden rule: Treat others how you would like to be treated by them. It's really not so difficult. Be kind, be aware, be a little more patient. Having caring manners improves your life but also the lives of those around you. Never forget how far our actions reach, how powerful a simple smile can be or the value of a trusted friend.
Yes, etiquette is important but far far greater than this is your manner.


  1. So true, and fantastic... And perhaps something some people in your life should recognize...