There are all kinds of etiquette rules and nuances specific to one’s circumstances, however these top 10 etiquette rules are a fail-safe starter kit for someone needing the basics. Teach these to someone starting out or learn them for yourself. The fact is this—when you become a more educated member of society, society becomes more interested in you.
Appreciate. Appreciation for another person in and of itself is a manifestation of education and exposure. Someone who is well-traveled and extensively experienced notices and appreciates things like quality, a well-cleaned space, great service at a restaurant, and the difference between someone who does their job and someone who appreciated their job and strives to do it well. Appreciate service and quality in the moment. Appreciate a host or a gift in the moment, and later with a hand-written note. Remember, expertise and time from someone is as much of a gift as something wrapped with a bow.
Give a Firm Handshake. Men and women alike, get a grip! Ladies, unless you're visiting royalty, the days are gone of laying your hand coyly in a gentleman’s palm as if he were going to kiss it. If you are meeting someone for the first time in the U.S.A., extend your hand and give a solid handshake. In other cultures and countries, other greetings are appropriate. In the United States, the handshake is one very common greeting you should know how to execute. Don’t overdo it with a death-squeeze, but certainly don’t give the dead-fish-hand. The flop is alarming and off-putting.
Shut Your Mouth. While you are chewing anything at all, and when you don’t agree with someone’s politics or religion. One very valuable lesson. Two very important times to practice it.
Respect Time. Be punctual. If you are more than five minutes late you’re in the rude-zone. If you are detained and it will be more than 5 minutes, call to let them know. Offer to reschedule. People’s time is valuable. Consequently, don’t show up early to anything but a job interview. If you’re early, expect to wait until the appointed time. Never arrive early to a party. Give the host every minute pre-party before they have to accommodate you.
Practice Hygiene Privately. By all means, coif and clean, but maintain yourself in private. Do your thing in the bathroom, at home, possibly in the back of your Uber, but never standing up in the middle of a cocktail party or while you are at a meeting or dining table. This includes removing things from your teeth, ears, nose, eyes, etc.
Introduce Yourself. The formal way to introduce yourself is by first and last name. The casual manner is first name only. Never introduce yourself with a title. That is for someone else to do for you. If you are Doctor or Mrs., it doesn’t matter when you introduce yourself, you are simply John or Sally Smith—or simply John or Sally. Yes, you may have met the person before. If you don’t have regular conversations with them, don’t assume they remember your name. Introduce yourself again unless they greet you first by name.
Respond. When asked a question, respond. The promptness of your response naturally speaks of how you value the sender—so, be mindful. When asked to attend a function, respond promptly. Respond in the manner you were asked unless directed otherwise. This means if you get a text, respond by text. If you get an e-vite, respond as prompted by the e-vite. If you get a mailed invitation, mail back a response to the host unless the host gives you another way they prefer to get responses, such as an email address. Do not respond in the way that is most convenient for you. Willy-nilly responding is considered inconsiderate. Respond quickly and in suit.
Practice Volume Control & Know When to Exit. Whether using your cell phone, issuing a complaint, or correcting a child, public volume control is common courtesy and good manners—making it an etiquette staple. If the space is so quiet or small that everyone could hear even a softly spoken conversation, that is your clue to exit the space and have the conversation elsewhere. Similarly, if your surroundings are so loud that you raise your voice to compete, you’ve got the idea, leave. These types of conversations should be held out of ear-shot to people not involved in the conversation.
Emote Wisely. Especially on social media, curb your negative emotions. Sure, rants are necessary and even cathartic. We are not all excessively positive all the time. However, rants and tantrums come off as immature and attention-seeking even when posted or emailed with the best of intentions. If you need to write out your thoughts, put it in a word doc and sleep on it—maybe forever. Address a situation-specific to a person personally and privately. Abhor a new piece of legislation? Specifically address the situation with the people who can make a difference, or commit to be part of making a change yourself. Posting a written manifestation of negativity is never a good idea. Posting a deep-sigh or poor-me manifestation of your current state of mind is even worse.
Understand and Practice Self-Awareness. If you want others to respond positively to you, this is imperative. Know thyself. Self-awareness is a skill that takes honing. This is not about you knowing what all your preferences are, although that is relevant. This is knowing how others perceive you. You will not be able to behave in ways that are attractive if you don’t understand self-awareness. Of the 10 etiquette rules, it is certainly the deepest conceptually. I’ve included it for a reason. Take the opportunity to learn about self-awareness to whatever level you want to take it. Understand that dismissing its importance will hold you back socially and likely professionally as well.
I’m a firm believer in #smartisbeautiful. Educate yourself and you will find the confidence propelling you forward in all types of situations. Need a specific tip? Ask. I’m here for you!