Some feel etiquette is about formalities (‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’) – don’t do this, don’t do that. For many others, etiquette connotes European or Western’ values and they resent what they see as a new form of colonisation. The people that fall into this last category are probably not mindful of the fact that Africa is replete with etiquette and ours, in many instances, is more forceful and certainly guides most of our waking and sleeping moments.
Etiquette is not only about dos and don’ts; if it is, everyone will have to master an impossible list of what to do and not do on different occasions in different cultures for different situations. In reality, etiquette is about ‘consideration’, ‘sensitivity’, and ‘respect’.
In other words, show consideration to people in everything you do, avoid being selfish and do to people what you will take from people. Out goes deception, abuse, ‘smartness’, using people etc.
Secondly, be sensitive to people in whatever you do or say. Avoid thoughtless words; be sensitive to people’s culture, gender and situation. This will mean avoiding sexist, racist or any offensive gestures or jokes. It also means thinking before you do or say anything.
Thirdly, show respect to others irrespective of their age, gender, social or economic status. Showing respect means not looking down, not talking down or standing people up whoever they may be.
You will find that in all matters, whether of dressing, dating, driving, business relationships, marriage, visiting people, leading a team, travelling or eating in public, you will behave better and differentiate yourself when you show consideration, sensitivity and respect to people.
We all benefit when we do things right! EtiquetteBank