Manners and Etiquette: What’s the Difference?

Posted by Kristin Arnold on June 6, 2023

Manners and Etiquette

I was reading a passage from Tana French in her book, The Searcher, that got me thinking about the difference between manners, and etiquette.

The protagonist, a feisty 12-year-old girl named Trey (short for Theresa) was telling Cal, her neighbor and an ex-cop about her day.  She says,

“Teacher was giving me hassle today.  For not paying attention. I told her I don’t give a shite.”

“Well, that’s not bad,” Cal says.  “It’s unmannerly, and you shouldn’ta done it.”

The kid is giving him that look again.  “That’s not manners.  Manners is like chew with your mouth closed.”

“Nah. That’s just etiquette.”

“What’s the difference?”

“Etiquette is the stuff you gotta do just ’cause that’s how everyone else does it.  Like holding your fork in your left hand, or saying ‘Bless you’ if someone sneezes.  Manners is treating people with respect.”

High-performing teams have good manners.  They treat others with respect, beyond what is expected or what everyone else does.


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KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CSP, CPF|Master has been facilitating meaningful conversations between executives and managers to make better decisions and achieve extraordinary results for 25+ years. She's a leading authority on moderating panel discussions and passionate about finding the perfect olive to complement a vodka martini.

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