Some people believe that the era of proper etiquette has long passed, and that we no longer have time to mind our ps and qs. Then again, perhaps that’s precisely why words like TMI (too much information) are now part of our everyday vocabulary. After all, etiquette is far more than just properly identifying which fork to use at the dining table--it’s about conducting ourselves accordingly per situation and treating others well.

In this respect, we are hardly in last place. “Filipinos are well-mannered,” says Pauli Antoine Porquez Genuino, President and Founder of Etiquette de Manille and Red Archon. “They are polite in general; they know how say thank you and smile; they say please.”

But etiquette is also bound to a certain code of conduct. “You learn the rules, and you match [them] with your kindness, being considerate and well-mannered. When you marry the two, then you have good social graces.”

But why exactly is it important to learn proper etiquette? Here are three reasons why:

1. It makes you feel at ease.

Imagine yourself having dinner with all your childhood heroes like Jane Austen, J.K. Rowling, and C.S. Lewis. It’s a formal, black-tie affair. As you look down at your plate, you realize that you have no idea which utensils to use first. Do you think you'd be able to concentrate on your literary idols when you feel out of place?

“When you know which, for example, spoon, fork to use, how to handle it well, then you can set that aside, and later on, when you converse and when you eat, you can concentrate on relationships,” says Pauli.

2. Etiquette helps you exude confidence.

Another important reason for learning proper etiquette is the boost in confidence that the knowledge will give you. Mind you, we said confidence, not arrogance.

When you know how to introduce or reintroduce yourself to a person at an event, for example, people will get the impression that you’re confident, even though your hands are actually shaking behind your back. When you perfect your posture and conduct yourself with proper visual poise, you exude a sureness that draws people in.

3. It contributes to your overall competence.

Competence is not just based on intelligence or skill sets--it also concerns the way you handle different situations. How do you talk shop when at an informal dinner? How do you close a deal or propose a partnership at a social gathering?

If you have a good understanding of business etiquette, you can avoid making a fool of yourself and perhaps even impress future business associates as well!

(Photo by Mike Dee)

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