Why behave, indeed. Etiquette is the customary code of polite behavior in society. Polite behavior isn’t about following rules–it’s about control. Knowing how to behave in social situations, like how to enter a room, what to do if you forget someone’s name, etc., gives you control. There’s so much you can’t control but you can control how you behave.
Here’s what etiquette does for you:
Etiquette gives you confidence in any setting. Whether you are at a crawfish boil or at a formal tea with the Governor, knowing the rules can help you focus on being charming instead of having to worry about what to do with your napkin or your sweet-n-low packet.
Etiquette sets you apart from others and makes you “sparkle and shine.” Knowing to smile and lift your chin when you enter a doorway sets you apart from the person who enters and looks grumpy. Waiting to be seated (not just plopping down) may make the difference in a promotion. You want to stand out from the crowd–for good reasons.
Etiquette sets a higher standard to live and work by. Behaving, no matter how others treat you, no matter what the traffic is like, or no matter the balance in your bank account raises the level of standard you live by. Behaving, no matter what, sets a high standard for you and for those in your social circle.
Lastly, and most importantly, knowing how to behave can help you not embarrass yourself. If you fart, burp, and/or cuss in public, knowing you aren’t supposed to might be what it takes to make you s.t.o.p.