As prehistoric people began to interact with one another, they learned to behave in ways that made life easier and more pleasant. Manners had a practical purpose. Then early civilizations developed rules for proper social conduct.
Much of today's formal etiquette originated in the French royal court during the 1600-1700's. The nobles who lived at court did not work, and so they developed elaborate social customs mostly to avoid becoming bored. The nobles drew up a list of proper social behavior and called it an etiquette. This word came from an old French word meaning ticket. This code of behavior soon spread to other European courts and eventually was adopted by the upper classes throughout the Western world.
From the 1500's through the early
1900's, children learned etiquette at school. Children were advised on such points as
Over the years, people were expected to follow an increasingly complicated set of rules. Many of the rules seem silly today. In Western countries in the 1800's, a young man could not speak to a young woman he knew until she had first acknowledged him. Little girls curtsied and little boys bowed when introduced to someone. Not many years ago, when a young man and a young woman went out on a date, she was expected to sit quietly in the car while he walked around it to open her door and help her out.
Since the 1960's, manners have become much more relaxed. Etiquette today is based on treating everyone with the same degree of kindness and consideration, and it consists mostly of common sense. It is helpful to know some rules about how to behave in certain situations-if only because this makes life more comfortable for you and makes you more self-confident in social situations.
History of Etiquette
Etiquette for the Phone