It may seem strange, but between the world of tobacco and that of good manners there are non-secondary contacts. For example, the tuxedo is a suit born in England to avoid smearing the white vest of the tailcoat with cigar ash. Then, in fact, at the end of the dinner there was the use for men, not only in London clubs, to retire in a group to smoke in rooms adjacent to the dining room. At the time, the nineteenth century, the representatives of the upper classes wore the tailcoat as a formal dress, with which they participated in the dinner and the rest of the evening. But those immaculate white vests and bow ties were often smeared with ashes, when gentlemen sat on the club sofas, smoking with pleasure and conversing amiably with each other. So he came into the habit of adopting less pompous and more practical clothing, especially that he did not have a white but black vest in order to continue the evening without feeling uncomfortable exposing a visibly stained ash vest. And also the bow tie the tuxedo was black to cover all traces of scuffing. Thus was born the tuxedo, also worn today, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States of America, where it is called tuxedo.
In tuxedo you also participate in the State lunches at the Quirinale and the first of the Scala, on December 7, and on those other formal occasions where it is required.
Obviously, formal tuxedo and tailcoat correspond to feminine clothes, which, however, have much freer shapes and colors, except for the need to be long to the ground, to provide a more visible elegance.
But today, around smoking, detailed rules chase each other, arranged in individual countries, to regiment its presence in public and working environments. In addition, the use of offering cigarettes and cigars at the end of a meal has now fallen, as was used until a few decades ago. And thus also arises an exercise in good manners in lighting a cigarette or, sometimes, in putting it out where required.
Those who are well educated can therefore also be recognized by their use of their own cigar in front of other people, or in common areas. The most attentive push themselves to discipline themselves even within the home. And this is generally considered an expressive factor of careful sensitivity.
Influence of technology
Around the world of tobacco rotates one behavior style which contributes to qualifying those who express it. But today’s reflections on good manners concern the public rather than the private world. Everything stems from a recent and powerful acceleration of history that is rapidly transforming all styles consolidated in centuries of traditions.
The main impulse comes from technology, which has penetrated so widely into daily life, as well as into the world of work, to transform everyone’s behavioral styles. We are called to monitor and force ourselves not to go down to the levels proposed by many protagonists of today’s public and private life. And we are responsible for proposing a style that is respectful of the general rules of good private education and good public institutional rules.
Everyone must do something, in their own field of action, to provide a contribution to the growth of the behavioral style, to prevent the deterioration bring the total consumption of the rules of good coexistence in individual contexts, such as school, work, social, family, sports and, above all, institutional.
Style as identity
Style is one of identifying factors of a people, and certainly not secondary. In fact, the first identity factor of a community is said to be the language, the second the style and the third the food. The popular identity of each context is drawn on these three primary factors.
The Italian style is appreciated in the world in some aspects, but criticized for others. The criticisms come mainly from a poor institutional and even private formality, deriving from historical, political and social reasons, which many treaties illustrate to us. Gaining awareness of this is already a highly positive factor because it puts us in a position to analyze our styles of behavior and evaluate their formality, to possibly guarantee an adjustment on higher levels.
Behind the benches
To do this we must be aware that nobody will provide us with stimuli and even less examples. Therefore, we must take the initiative to identify and practice the most correct style. For this purpose it is important the training activity carefully conducted by the Academy of Ceremonial aimed at officials and managers of all levels.
We must reflect on the existence of institutional behavior in the public world, but also in the private one. And institutional behavior is not limited to respecting the laws, because it wants to affirm a higher dignity, that invoked by article 54 of our Constitution, which invokes discipline and honor as qualifying factors of good public action. But there is also institutional corporate behavior.
Too many rules don’t help
We Italians are overwhelmed by an endless amount of provisions, as he says Sabino Cassese, mostly derogatory and almost never general. This rain of rules hits us daily forcing us to winding paths, leaving us already feeling victorious and satisfied, even if we have not achieved the expected result, but simply if we have not incurred any infringement. It is therefore difficult to find those who ask to respect style as well, if we have to spend so much energy to respect the infinite dispositions.
But our reflection wants to induce us to consider that style is not an added ornament, but the way of doing things. There is always an expressive and behavioral form to implement something. And choosing the right shape generally does not require additional effort, but only additional attention.
In today’s globalized world, attention should also be paid to customs of our interlocutors, if we want to maintain ever better relationships.
* President of the Scientific Committee of the Academy of Ceremonial-Protocol Academy