It is a common mistake to confuse ethics and etiquette. However, they are different topics. This article will help you understand the difference between these two words and how they are interwoven in society today.
What are Ethics?
Ethics refers to “moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or conduct of an activity.” It can also be described as a branch of philosophy that ‘involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong” [Source].
Ethics focuses on human morality and tries to pick out the good or bad in someone’s behavior. It is more concerned with moral standards and significantly impacts how people live their lives and learn to co-exist with others. Britannica defines ethics as “the discipline concerned with what is good and bad and right and wrong. The term also applies to any system or theory of moral values or principles” [Source].
Ethics are also regarded as rules that must be followed. It is required that a person have good ethics to receive a thumbs up from society.
What is Etiquette?
Etiquette is described as the “customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.” It can be explained as the “set of conventional rules of personal behavior in polite society. In the form of a moral code that regulates social interactions and determines what is acceptable in a society, a social class, or a social group. [Source].
Merriam Webster dictionary defines etiquette as “the conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority to be observed in social or official life” [Source]. The word etiquette derives from the French term “ticket” or “label attached to something for identification.”
It is regarded as personal behavior that distinguishes people from animalistic tendencies, ensuring that all laws and rules are followed. Some societal etiquette norms are set by society.
What is the Similarity between Etiquette and Ethics?
Both ethics and etiquette are concepts used to govern the behavior of human beings. They also note how good behavior is to be distinguished from bad behavior.
It is noted that ethics and etiquette “Together they preside over the fundamental beliefs and needs that we hold . . . Morality includes the concept of the sacredness of the person . . . while manners include the dignity of the person. Morals and manners share such concepts as compassion, respect, and toleration. . .” [Source 7]
Difference between Ethics and Etiquette?
The first distinction is that ethics is a branch of knowledge concerned with moral principles. People frequently confuse ethics and morals since they are so closely linked. In contrast, etiquette is more of customs or rules to govern behavior. Etiquette is not necessarily morals but prescribed behavior expected to exhibit at a particular place.
Ethics are linked to morals; for example, greeting the elder implies respect for elders and has been a part of every culture’s tradition. On the other hand, a specific form of etiquette can spread to people at popular events such as weddings, funerals, and churches. These events seem to have universal conduct of how people should behave.
Ethics is related to principles, while etiquette is related to behavior [Source]. Ethics have different meanings to people, and etiquette is influenced by culture, ethnicity, religion, country, or region. Usually, ethics are personal because a person is the one who judges what is right or wrong to them. In contrast, etiquette tends to be a social phenomenon as an individual does not create it.
Etiquette is formal, as found in workplace behavior. Entails dealing with coworkers and managing staff. Ethics is formal and informal, which may enter into personal relationships. Ethics centers on “intention, conscience, absolute and spiritual,” while etiquette focuses on “manner, formality,” among other things. [Source].
Importance of Ethics and Etiquette
Ethics and etiquette collaborate in ensuring that humans exhibit exemplary behavior in society. They also assist people in treating others and establishing good co-existence among peers. Due to ethics and etiquette, people from many different backgrounds may collaborate in the same business and even worship in church without conflict. These two ideas promote compassion, encourage empathy and respect, provide people with humility and confidence to face any circumstances, and show respect for one another.
Example of Ethics and Etiquette
There are many forms of etiquette, including meeting, eating, and phone courtesy, among others. Notable examples are saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you, chewing with your mouth closed, and avoiding sleeping in public. Other common examples are opening the door for women and the elderly, using utensils, pulling out a chair for a lady. [Source].
Ethics are seen as moral guides and include honesty, integrity, and compassion. The following are examples of ethical behavior: complying with company regulations, good communication, taking responsibility, accountability, trust, and colleague courtesy.