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is an established procedure or set of specific behaviors and utterances, conceptually similar to a ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....
although typically secular and less involved. A formality may be as simple as a handshake
A handshake is a short ritual in which two people grasp one of each other's like hands, in most cases accompanied by a brief up and down movement of the grasped hands.-History:...
upon making new acquaintainces in Western culture to the carefully defined procedure of bows, handshakes, formal greetings, and business-card exchanges that may mark two businessmen being introduced in Japan. In legal and diplomatic circles, formalities include such matters as greeting an arriving head of state
A head of state is the individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state. His or her role generally includes legitimizing the state and exercising the political powers, functions, and duties granted to the head of...
with the appropriate national anthem
A national anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.- History :Anthems rose to prominence...
Cultures and groups within cultures often have varying degrees of formality which can often prove a source of frustration or unintentional insult when people of different expectations or preferences interact. Those from relatively informal backgrounds may find formality to be empty and hypocritical, or unnecessarily demanding. Those from relatively formal backgrounds may find informal cultures hard to deal with, as their carefully refined and nuanced behaviors go completely unnoticed.
The difference between formality and politeness
Politeness is best expressed as the practical application of good manners or etiquette. It is a culturally-defined phenomenon, and therefore what is considered polite in one culture can sometimes be quite rude or simply eccentric in another cultural context....
is often a point of confusion for those from relatively informal cultures. On the other hand, those who have been brought up in relatively formal circumstances often experience discomfort and even, over the long-term, disenchantment, in less formal circumstances.