Etiquette and Efficiency, A Perfect Match

posted in: Essays 0

Just the other day I was thinking about rules of etiquette and social manners. All those manners I was taught as a child, such as saying “please” and “thank you,” to not resting elbows at the dinner table, ran through my head and eventually made me realize….etiquette and efficiency really are a perfect match.

Door Ajar
Can you please hold that door open for me? Thanks.

While rules of etiquette and social manners vary from country to country and region to region, you can most likely be sure that there are practical reasons as to why these rules exist. Why shouldn’t these rules be practical? After all, these rules were most likely developed to help instill some sort of order among people living in a society.

For today’s post I thought it would be interesting to review three common Western manners in regards to efficiency (perhaps if we placed more emphasis on teaching and following manners we might have a more efficient world? Just a thought…). Without further delay, here they are:

Etiquette: The RSVP

If you’ve ever been invited to a party, wedding or other celebration, you’ve probably seen these four letters, RSVP, an abbreviated form of the French phrase, Répondez s’il vous-plaît, (English translation: Please respond) at the bottom of an invitation. The party organizers are asking whether or not you’ll be coming to their function.


An RSVP helps party organizers accurately plan for the party, from the amount of seats and tables they will need, to how much food and beverages they should buy, right down to entertainment arrangements. On the contrary, not RSVPing inconveniences everyone involved.

Etiquette: Holding a Door Open for Someone

It’s considered a thoughtful gesture to hold a door open as you are walking through it for someone who is walking right behind you.


If there’s a line of people leaving a building, why should each person have to stop to push the door open when they can simply hold the already open door for the person behind them? Not to mention holding a door open for someone who is struggling with a big parcel or box or other item; it’s just more practical to help with the flow of traffic than being part of the log-jam.

Etiquette: Giving Up One’s Seat

If you see someone struggling or otherwise in need of a seat for whatever reason on the bus or train, it’s a nice gesture to stand up and let that person have your seat.


The efficiency part here is to streamline and make the whole traveling experience comfortable for everyone involved. Instead of having someone struggle standing up and perhaps be more likely to have an accident or mishap along the way (ultimately affecting everyone on the bus or train), why not just let that person have a seat?

What about you? What rules of etiquette or social manners can you think of that are not only thoughtful towards others, but practical as well?

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Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.