WHAT IS CIVILITY?

I recently returned from the AICI annual conference in Orlando, Florida. I have to say that I was really impressed with the workshops I attended. All of the trainers were every knowledgeable and I left feeling that I learned something from each of them.

One of the workshops I attended was on Civility. As an image & etiquette consultant I was curious to learn more about civility and how it relates or differs to the etiquette training that I provide for my clients.

In the workshop it was explained that Civility is a code of conduct based on the principles of restraint, respect and responsibility. It’s about doing something because it is the right thing to do.

Personally, after thinking about it, I still found this to be a bit confusing.

In my workshops, I define etiquette as the rules of conduct that have been passed down from generation to generation. It is the rules of behaviour and interaction in a society. I define manners as following the golden rule “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.” Manners are about courtesy, respect and making others feel comfortable.

I decided to look up each word in the Oxford online dictionary to see if it would clarify things for me. According to the dictionary:

  • Manners – are polite or well bred social behaviour.
  • Etiquette – Etiquette is the customary code of polite behaviour in society or among members of particular profession or group.
  • Civility – is formal politeness and courtesy in behaviour or speech.

What did I learn? According to the dictionary ‘Manners, etiquette and civility’ are all about ‘polite behaviour’. However, etiquette is polite behaviour determined by a particular society. Manners and civility are polite behaviour determined by inherent human nature and if you think about it, this may differ depending on your cultural upbringing. I am still not entirely sure what the differences are between manners, civility and etiquette. However, if the goal is for others to feel they have been treated with respect and courtesy, then restraint and responsibility would naturally become part of the package.

Personally, I don’t think that the label is really that important. As with everything it’s results that really count. And in this case it is the results of our words and actions that really matter.

Kimberly Law AICI, CIP

Association of Image Consultants International (AICI)

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Founding Director of

Institute of Image Training & Testing International (IITTI)

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