"For as laws are necessary that good manners be preserved, so there is need of good manners that law may be maintained." Machiavelli
"For when the one great scorer comes to write against your name, He marks not that you won or lost - but how you played the game." Grantland Rice
Think of etiquette, if you like, as the oil that greases the wheels of all interactions between individuals, groups and institutions. If you know the rules then you can play the game and at the end of 90 minutes it's balls in the back of the net that count... oh yes. And if there seem to be a lot of rules, it's because they are all inclusive, the proper etiquette will cover all aspects of your existence. In time you may become such a true master that you need never think 'what is the correct protocol for tying my shoelaces' but merely do it. For most of my readers this state of grace is something that can only be aspired to, and so, gentle reader, it is my pleasant task to guide you through the intricacies of the great game. Good luck and fair winds follow you!
"What boots it, thy virtue; What profit thy parts While one thing thou lackest- The art of all arts, The only credentials; Passport to success, Opens castles and parlours; Address, man, address?" Emerson
The protocols for speaking with other cainites will form a vital part of the rest of your existence, gentle reader, and it is important to remember that the main use of etiquette is to smooth all social interactions and remove needless antagonism, even when a full and frank exchange of views is to be held.
It should be no surprise that the correct protocols vary greatly with respective status. This means that it is vital to gain an idea of the relative status of another cainite as soon as possible when interacting with them. An important first step is clan. In most social interactions it is considered polite to state one's clan as part of any introduction. This will also encourage the other kindred to respond appropriately. Whilst it is important to observe the niceties with members of our own clan who appreciate such things, Brujah rabble and Gangrel outsiders do not require such delicacy. It has been said that this is a form of social stigmatism but I say 'Nay', it is simply a truth that many of these creatures feel uncomfortable within the bounds of civilised behaviour.
A careful attention to detail, such as the manner in which a cainite walks, how he dresses, whether he defers to his own elders, his manner of speech, will give an impression of the way in which he wishes to be addressed. Until you are certain of relative status, it is generally safest to humour this. The use of polite witticisms in conversation is usually frowned upon unless you are a master of the art (as I am myself), or have reason to believe that your conversational partner has a sense of humour. If this is the case, however, it is a certain way of relaxing the tone of an altercation. The use of irony, in particular, to soften the blow of a necessary reproof cannot be overestimated, provided that the other cainite is sufficiently aware to catch the intended meaning. It should -always- be possible to discuss matters of business or personal interest with other Ventrue without raising the temperature, and at the risk of generalising, it may be said that many Toreador can also be relied upon to uphold a civilised level of conversation. In cases where mere conversation is not sufficient to settle the point, then I refer you, gentle reader, to following chapters.
"Curtsey while you're thinking what to say, it saves time." Lewis Carroll
"Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill."
Be in no doubt as to the wisdom of deferring to your own elders, by the certain fact of the status they hold, they are deserving of your consideration. It is also true that by using the correct protocols an elder wil pay more attention to your opinions, at least in the first instance. When your elder enters a room, it is correct to stand as a token of regard, unless there are kine present in which case a simple nod is sufficent. Do not address your elder beyond a formal politeness unless he addresses you first, or has given you permission to speak. The correct forms of address could fill a vast tome, if you are not certain as to which is apropriate then you have to option of listening to how others address him, or simply asking and apologising for your own ignorance in the matter.
It is always appropriate to apologise to one's elders for any real or imagined failing in your own etiquette. It implies that you are willing to accept their judgement and advice and create a good impression. So, it is always appropriate to turn up to any meeting approximately 5 minutes after the agreed time. This will give you something to apologise for immediately and will get the meeting off on the right foot. Never criticise your elder in public unless you are doing so specifically to draw another into the same trap, it will reflect badly upon your own status. It may also lead to more serious repercussions... When your elder makes a suggestion, it is appropriate to agree to it in principle, although unnecessary to speak at great length about the merits of the proposed plan. However, it is not a kindness to withhold your own reservations about any course of action. Make free use of apologies (see above) for your own short-sightedness and failings, and ask permission to speak your mind.
An important consideration, gentle reader, is that even when your elder is wrong, he is right.
"The difference between a lady and a flower-girl is how she treats others, not how she is treated." George Bernard Shaw
When speaking with kindred who, either because of being younger in years or less fortunate in their breeding than yourself, remember at all times that merely by hearing them out, you are marking them as favoured and improving their own status. Expect them to be grateful for this sign of favour and to show it in respect for your opinions and deferment to your superior judgement and experience.
Whilst their opinions may be shallow, narrow-minded or simply foolish, by encouraging lower status kindred to offer their thoughts, you are preparing the ground for the day when their thoughts may genuinely be worth something. So it is worth cultivating an air of attentiveness, nod from time to time, ask polite questions by rephrasing their last sentence while you are occupied with other thoughts. If indeed it is something that you may need to devote attention to, it may be advisable to ask the cainite to offer his opinions in writing so that you may give them the attention they deserve.
If, for any reason, you need to rebuke a lower status kindred be aware of whether the infringement was intended or simply due to ignorance. Not all kindred are fortunate enough to have as good a grasp on the social niceties as you do yourself, gentle reader. A lesson in etiquette from an elder is something which not all kindred will see as a gift and may need to be pointed out more forcefully. However, it shoud be possible to do this without resorting to a show of strength, in fact it is desirable to avoid a show of strength as this is generally considered to be poor etiquette.
" "Play up! Play up! and play the game" " Henry Newbolt
Deal with your peer with courtesy and all due politeness, gentle reader, and you will engender in him a respect for your own judgement that may be quite out of proportion to anything you actually have to communicate. Trust is a rare and valuable commodity indeed, and cannot be conveyed by mere politeness, but by engendering a reputation as one who can discuss even matters that bear against yourself in a true and courteous fashion, you will convey an impression of yourself as an honorable man or woman. The importance of impressions such as this cannot be overestimated.
With thanks to jo hart http://www.tardis.ed.ac.uk/~jhart/ven.html