I was recently asked why I focus on hospitality and etiquette. What do they have in common?
The term etiquette makes a lot of people cringe. The brain automatically goes to stuffy pretentious people, sipping tea with their pinky stuck in the air. Etiquette is simply the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group (Merriam Webster). The truth is you can have etiquette without hospitality. But at that point, etiquette is nothing but behavioral and you run the risk of being labeled as “stuffy”.
Hospitality, however, is relational. And while you can have etiquette without hospitality, I believe it’s harder to show hospitality without certain aspects of etiquette. Hospitality, the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers (Merriam Webster), goes hand in hand with respect and love for one another. I believe that we demonstrate that respect by using etiquette, or good manners.
“Good manners reflect something from the inside. An innate sense of consideration for others and respect for self” (Unknown)
A few weeks ago we looked at 3 different basic groups of etiquette and I explained why I felt that they were important to a hospitality ministry. You can read the first post here, Do Manners Matter? Part 1: Basic Manners.
We show respect and consideration for others when we apply the behavioral aspects of etiquette to our relationships. We change the outcome of an interaction, improve the chances of a good impressions, and increase our potential for influence. Whether with our family, friends, or out in our community, using etiquette shows that we have character. But we must remember that etiquette without a hospitable heart, is nothing more than empty actions.
“Manners are like the shadows of virtues. They are the momentary display of those qualities which our fellow creatures love and respect” (Sydney Smith)
I have a deep desire the change the world. Not only through radical hospitality, but also in seeing those we love pulled in by the way we act and present ourselves. That’s why etiquette is so important to our hospitality ministry. However, as with all things, you must have balance. You should certainly dress up to go to a wedding, but if you wear a cocktail dress to Pizza Hut and try to eat your wings with a fork and knife, you’re just weird. You should learn how to sit and hold yourself for an important meeting, but if you go to a movie with your best friend and spend the entire time sitting on the edge of your seat with your legs bent duchess style, you’re weird. Practicing etiquette is wonderful, but you must learn a good balance and use common sense.
Three important things to remember:
1.) If I feel pretentious and stuffy, then I’m probably coming across pretentious and stuffy.
2.) If all I’m noticing is the bad etiquette of my guest, then I am not being hospitable.
3.) If I graciously open my home, but spend the whole time picking my teeth while on my phone and slurping cola…my guest isn’t going to come back. (This sounds ridiculous, but it happens. My family once went to dinner where the host spent the whole time picking at scalp acne and talking about dog bowel movements.)
The more we practice hospitality and etiquette, the better and easier it will get!