Social etiquettes are the simple unwritten rules that govern our behaviour in social situations. They are the norms and customs that guide us in how we interact with others. Having good social etiquette is essential if you want to maintain a semblance of being civilised. It’s so simple yet we find it lacking in our daily interactions.
Social etiquettes are the last defining characteristic of refinement, culture and evolution. Here’s a guide to essential social etiquette that will help you to navigate any social situation with confidence and ease.
‘Hi’ doesn’t work everywhere. If you’re meeting someone for the first time, say ‘Hello’. And if you’re in a formal setting, then even a ‘Good morning/evening’ will also do. Basic social etiquette requires you to introduce yourself clearly, with a firm handshake, smile, or better yet, both.
Remember first impressions? Well, the way you greet someone sets the tone for your impression. So, go ahead and create that unforgettable pleasant image of yourself with a confident smile and a clear audible ‘Hello’.
If you’re meeting someone you have not seen in a while, add a personal touch by asking them how they have been or what they have been up to.
The first step in establishing a connection with someone new is by introducing yourself. Start by offering your name and maybe even a firm handshake (FYI, the handshake also tells a lot about you). Maintain eye contact and smile while introducing yourself.
Elbows off the Table
Can’t stress enough on this. When eating, avoid talking with your mouth full, don’t take large bites and then chomp like a cow, wait for the others to be served before you start eating, push your chair in when you leave the table and try using the cutlery (the fork and knife and spoon) to avoid making a mess with your fingers. Nobody wants to see your chompers!
In many cultures, it’s normal to eat with your hands. That’s ok. Try not to look like the ape and be neat in the process.
Since eating out is a norm these days, especially if you’re out in a public place like a café or restaurant, remember there’re others also there who would like to enjoy their time. So avoid talking loudly or being unnecessarily noisy.
Dressing smartly and appropriately is a true display of your refinement. What you wear is what defines you socially. It does not mean it needs to be expensive stuff. It means that it must suit the occasion/situation. Dressing smartly boosts your confidence since you’re comfortable with what you’re wearing.
Looking cool is one thing, going out in your boxers is another! God help those who haven’t understood this faux pas.
Social Etiquette of Using mobile phones
This is a near pandemic-like ailment! Avoid using the phone during meetings, meals or conversations. If it is unavoidable, then excuse yourself and move to a private area. When in the company of others, keep your voice low and keep the call short.
When at the movie theatre or at some performance, unless you’re part of the emergency services, please remember to keep the phone on silent. There’s no need to disturb others with your phone.
Respect for others
Respecting others is a fundamental aspect of social etiquette. Be mindful of others’ personal space, opinions and beliefs. Avoid interrupting others while they are speaking, and listen attentively when someone is talking to you. If you disagree with someone, then avoid being confrontational. Being respectful shows that you care and are mindful.
Don’t forget to say thank you, excuse me or please
Remember those magic words from school? They still work wonderfully. It shows you as a better person when you use these words correctly. Social etiquette is all about using those evergreen magic words effortlessly.
Thank you notes are so charming. They express your gratitude for the time or effort or even hospitality of the receiver. A thank you note is a thoughtful gesture that shows your appreciation for the efforts of the other person.
Don’t post without asking first
Social media is all about visibility. It’s all about the one thousand and one clicks. Fine by me. But make sure you inform others before posting their pictures on social media. Not everyone wants the world to know what they’re doing!
Hold the door for those coming after
Barging indoors or leaving the door behind to close on its own is so not acceptable. When you’re entering, be mindful in case someone is entering after you. It would be a thoughtful gesture if you could hold the door for them. It’s just good manners, nothing about feminism or anything else.
Time and tide wait for none. So be on time. It reflects poorly on the person who is late, and it gets worse if you offer silly excuses! Save time, effort and embarrassment and stick to the time. Especially in formal settings or workplaces, time management is prized QR.
A gentleman always carries a handkerchief
Don’t laugh! Remember that line by Robert DeNiro from the movie ‘The Intern’? Well, there are other uses for carrying a hanky. Use it to cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, use it to wipe your hands (post-pandemic, it’s unpardonable not to carry a handkerchief) or just use it as a scarf if it’s too windy.
Carrying a hanky is a big help when you’ve to wipe your brow or dust the seat before sitting.
Sit properly and no manspreading!
Sit comfortably but don’t make yourself too comfortable. Keep your legs together and allow others some space to sit comfortably too. Especially when using public transport.
We call ourselves civilised. But it’s the social etiquettes which show how far one has reached on that path (some really haven’t moved beyond the cavemen stage!). By following these unwritten rules, you can create positive and respectful relationships with others. It also helps to navigate any social situation with confidence and ease. Remember all it needs from you is to be respectful, mindful and courteous in your interactions with others. And, there you’ve undoubtedly created a positive impression.
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