In a world filled with bad manners and more social faux pas than there are people, I thought it might help to offer a list of social etiquette tips.
Since we're surrounded by bad manners, sometimes it's difficult to know the difference between proper etiquette and rudeness.
If you follow these tips you will be invited to more parties, considered of when job opportunities arise, and make more friends.
Not doing any of these things can hold you back in social and professional situations.
Basic Social Etiquette
There are certain accepted behaviors in all social situations that you need to learn.
With few exceptions, putting them into practice can make a big difference in your social life.
- Easy to have good manners – These basic rules of proper etiquette are mostly common sense with a healthy dose of the Golden Rule thrown in for good measure.
- Be on time – No one likes to wait for others who are chronically late.
- Personal space – When you see someone squirming as you step closer back off a bit.
Regardless of who you are, you’ll have the need to communicate throughout life. Being a good communicator can do a variety of things for you, including sharing important information, winning people to your side, and raising your children.
Learning to communicate:
- Conversation – Learn how to hold a decent conversation, with back-and-forth dialogue. Never monopolize a discussion, or you may find yourself stuck in a corner trying to figure out why others are walking a wide berth around you.
- Gossip – Never gossip. Not only is it bad form, if word ever got back to the person you were talking about, you can pretty much be assured you’ll be the subject of the next gossip session.
- People’s names – Everyone has one, and most people appreciate your effort to learn their names if you spend more than a minute or two talking with them. This applies to social and business contacts.
- Cell phones – In a nutshell, use your cell phone sparingly in public. No one else wants to listen in on a private conversation or wait while you text someone the latest Internet joke.
- Email – Think before you hit “send.” Most electronic mail can never be taken back.
- Social media – Facebook, Twitter, and other social media are part of most people’s lives. Remember that not only can your friends see what you post, others can repost, share, or retweet anything you put out there.
- Rude questions – We have all gotten them. There are ways to deal with them and not come across as snarky.
If you share a meal with anyone, learn proper table manners. No one wants to sit across the table from a slob who talks with his mouth open or snorts milk through his nose.
Learn proper table manners:
- Basic table manners – Follow the basics that apply to almost every dining situation.
- Restaurant manners – Learn all about how to conduct yourself when dining out.
- Formal dinner party – Know how to act at a formal dinner party, including which utensils to use for each course.
Business is a funny animal. On the one hand, the bottom line is considered the most important factor. However, if you get down to the nitty gritty, most people look at business etiquette and manners as essential to even get to the bottom line. There is a social element to most offices, so observe protocol and remember that your behavior will affect your future.
How to have good manners in business:
- Business relationships – Knowing how to form and maintain business relationships can provide job security and a healthy bottom line.
- Proper attire – Know how to dress in any situation.
- Getting ahead – Learn what is expected in order to get ahead in your business.
- Office cubicles – Cubicle-dwelling can be trying during the best of times. Knowing how to work closely with others is essential for anyone in an office.
- Shaking hands – A decent handshake can give someone a good first impression, and we all know that you only have one shot at that.
- Business gifts – It’s always fun to give someone a gift to celebrate a special occasion, a promotion, or a job well done. Make sure your gift is appropriate to the setting and occasion.
- Acknowledge others – When someone comes up with a brilliant idea or does something others need to know about, be the first to congratulate him or her. Do this in meetings or in front of the boss to show that you are a team player.
Out and About
Once you’re outside your house, there are lists of rules to match everywhere you go. Learn what they are, or you may come across as boorish and crass. You don’t want to be “that person” who never bothers to learn proper etiquette.
Etiquette outside your home:
- Commuting – Know the proper rules of etiquette on buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation.
- Working out – Learn how to behave at the gym, or you might wind up facing off with the super buff guy who has no patience for a rude gym member.
- At the beach – Who doesn’t love the sun, sand, and surf? Make your trip to the beach more enjoyable by following a few basic rules of good manners.
- In the air – Before heading to the airport, learn what is expected of air travelers.
- Weddings – Show good manners while you help celebrate a couple’s union.
- Funerals – Don’t make a sad situation worse with bad manners. Learn what is expected before, during, and after a funeral.