What is the difference between manners, etiquette, and protocol?

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All of these fancy terms, and no clear understanding! I am not here to give you the Oxford dictionary version. This is the Dixon Etiquette human version, because this is more relatable. I am not here to give you a broad spectrum of what could possibly be. I like tailoring my services towards my clients to make sure they are getting the best of what they can be.

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Here’s a quick and easy breakdown of what each means:

Manners

This is the general mindset we have for how we treat others and carry ourselves. We take these with us no matter where we go and whom we are dealing with.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Respecting your elders
  • Opening doors for others no matter their age, background, or gender
  • Saying please and thank you
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Etiquette

These are situations we might be in where specific guidelines may apply. They are not always hard rules, but guidelines. Etiquette is full of careful considerations that can be flexible toward different interactions.

Say, if someone interrupts you, you simply pause to let them speak. Just because someone else may not follow the same etiquette as you do does not mean we continue to treat them without our firm guidelines.

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Examples:

  • Enter to sit on your dining chair from the left, so you do not bump into someone.
  • Dressing appropriately for an occasion
  • Not talking about a hair in your meal to avoid putting off others on their food

Sometimes etiquette can feel like hard rules, but that is where they meet the borderline of protocol. And then there are times protocol is within etiquette, and that is perfectly okay!

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Protocol

Protocol is a hard set of rules that you follow no matter what out of respect. You could be meeting the queen of Denmark, and sharing a tea ceremony with her. There will be certain ways to address her the first time, then the second time, how to face her when seated, when to bow, and so on. These commandments are typically when meeting monarchs or other high heads of state.

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You can find all of these rules in this book. Etiquette and manners are more of a mindset and lifestyle you create around the way you live, standards you hold, and how you treat people. Protocol you can always whip out and study just for fun, or have an expert brief you before meeting royalty. I hope you found this insightful, and if you would like to learn more in my classes, you can access them here!

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