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  • ... a regard for the rights of others is the basic law of all etiquette ...

  • Playing well with others isn't all it's cracked up to be.

  • Protocol is etiquette with a government expense account.

  • The idea that people can behave naturally, without resorting to an artificial code tacitly agreed upon by their society, is as silly as the idea that they can communicate by a spoken language without commonly accepted semantic and grammatical rules.

  • Yes, etiquette is hypocritical. Yes, it does inhibit children — if you're lucky. But the idea that it's elitist and irrelevant is like saying language is elitist and irrelevant.

    • Judith Martin,
    • in Susan Goodman, "Judith Martin," Modern Maturity ()
  • Etiquette enables you to resolve conflict without just trading insults. Without etiquette, the irritations in modern life are so abrasive that you see people turning to the law to regulate everyday behavior. This frightens me; it's a major inroad on our basic freedoms.

    • Judith Martin,
    • in Susan Goodman, "Judith Martin," Modern Maturity ()
  • The etiquette of intimacy is very different from the etiquette of formality, but manners are not just something to show off to the outside world. If you offend the head waiter, you can always go to another restaurant. If you offend the person you live with, it's very cumbersome to switch to a different family.

    • Judith Martin,
    • in Susan Goodman, "Judith Martin," Modern Maturity ()
  • To sacrifice the principles of manners, which require compassion and respect, and bat people over the head with their ignorance of etiquette rules they cannot be expected to know is both bad manners and poor etiquette. That social climbers and twits have misused etiquette throughout history should not be used as an argument for doing away with it.

  • Society cannot exist without etiquette ... It never has, and until our own century, everybody knew that.

  • Etiquette is about all of human social behavior. Behavior is regulated by law when etiquette breaks down or when the stakes are high — violations of life, limb, property and so on. Barring that, etiquette is a little social contract we make that we will restrain some of our more provocative impulses in return for living more or less harmoniously in a community.

  • People think, mistakenly, that etiquette means you have to suppress your differences. On the contray, etiquette is what enables you to deal with them; it gives you a set of rules.

  • People say when you're in love, you don't need etiquette. Well, you need it then more than anything. Or they say, 'At home I can just be myself.' What they mean is they can be their worst selves. ... They always mean they will save all their anxiety about how to behave for somebody like the head waiter of a restaurant, someone they'll never see again.

  • I hate the word proper. If you tell me a thing is not proper, I immediately feel the most rabid desire to go 'neck and heels' into it.

  • Etiquette is what you are doing and saying when people are looking and listening. What you are thinking is your business. Thinking is not etiquette.

  • Since censoriousness is a quality utterly antagonistic to good manners, it is well to reflect that, while etiquette lays down many laws, it also indulgently grants generous absolution.

  • ... manners are about making other people reasonably comfortable. If etiquette is, in part, about how to eat that artichoke, manners is knowing not to serve them if you suspect that someone at supper is going to be uncomfortable about being confronted with one.

  • A code of behavior is an inevitable part of life in any community, and if we hadn't inherited ours, we should have had to invent one.

  • Like life and people, it is full of paradoxes. Etiquette is based on tradition, and yet it can change. Its ramifications are trivialities, but its roots are in great principles.

  • Etiquette may be despotic, but its cruelty is inspired by intelligent kindness.

  • The only occasion when the traditions of courtesy permit a hostess to help herself before a woman guest is when she has reason to believe the food is poisoned.

  • Don't regret invitations for dinner. That is wrong. Accept or regret invitations to dinner. Remember that they have saddle of mutton for dinner. Guests are asked to dinner.

  • Being civilized means that one keeps one's words unrelated to one's thoughts, when necessary.

  • Etiquette — a fancy word for simple kindness.

  • The perfect hostess will see to it that the works of male and female authors be properly separated on her bookshelves. Their proximity, unless they happen to be married, should not be tolerated.

  • Must it be said that napkins are laid across the lap and never tucked under the chin, bib fashion? If one has to wear a bib, he should not accept invitations to dine away from home.

  • [On eating mangoes:] It is best to leave guests to tackle the fruit their own way. Provide spoons and a small dessert knife and fork. Provide finger bowls also, or a moist towel and an extra napkin. (Of course you need to take into account the time you will spend next day, cleaning table and furniture and carpet of a mess that you have not seen since the children were learning to feed themselves.)