Not until the seventeenth century did so-called ‘rules of good conduct’ come into being, a distinction being made between etiquette and protocol:
Etiquette became the rules of courtesy.
Protocol the official rules of conduct (protos – a Greek word- means ‘the first’ and kollèma – also Greek – actually means ‘what is attached to it’).
Those first rules of conduct laid down how meetings between officials ought to be organised, the Congress of Vienna of 1815 playing an important part. The international rules of protocol were then aligned to one another as much as possible. These rules of protocol still exist and are internationally identical.
Rules of etiquette involve conduct among people. Rules of etiquette are changing continuously, as society is changing, appropriating other norms and values to itself. For instance, years ago it was not becoming to eat in the streets; today this has changed completely.
Rules of protocol apply to officials who represent organisations. So protocol is much more business-like and supports certain business purposes. The principal aim of protocol is to organise meetings as smoothly as possible. Good examples are farewell receptions where applying the rules of protocol can prevent people from having to queue for hours to say their farewells.
Protocol in the 21st century
In essence, protocol management has always been about optimising relationships by maximising personal attention and systemising logistics. Protocol management enables the staging of the personal encounter. In a world where personal attention has become scarce and technology a facilitator for rules and procedures, protocol management provides us with a unique vision in which personal time is the greatest good we can give to someone. It is the modern currency of relationships.
Host(ess): The representative who welcomes the invited on arrival and whose name is mentioned on the invitation card.
Co-host(ess): All other representatives present.
Left/right: The perspective of the audience determines what is left or right.
Seating/ placement: To determine who sits on which seat.
Ushers: The employees assisting the guests in finding the right seat. In the Netherlands the employees of the Protocolbureau are commonly known as ushers.
Seniority: The concept of a person or group of people taking precedence over another person or group because the former is either older than the latter or has occupied a particular position longer than the latter.
Corps Diplomatique: The diplomatic corps or corps diplomatique is the collective body of foreign diplomats accredited to a particular country or body.
Dean (or Deken or Doyen): In some countries, the longest-serving ambassador to a country is given the title Dean, or Doyen, of the Diplomatic Corps and is sometimes accorded a high position in the order of precedence.
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