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Proper Social Etiquette: 12 Rules that Redefine Modern Manners

Have we lost our manners? Here are 12 bits of proper social etiquette the modern world needs to embrace again—whether at the office or abroad.

Proper Social Etiquette

You’ve probably heard this a few times from older relatives: “Kids today are losing their manners” or something similar. At first you shrug it off as one of the typical Baby Boomer’s gripes on the fast-paced changes on modern society. Then you must admit, there are moments when you agree with them, and we need to get back to some proper social etiquette.

Proper social etiquette and what it means

Social etiquette is the code that defines proper behavior in the presence of others. It is that one thing that defines a civilized society. While these may change through generations, the most basic aspects of social etiquette are unquestioningly observed for good reason.

Sadly, people, especially younger people, tend to forget these basics. We’re here to slap it as a reminder to get their act straight.

#1 Showing up for a scheduled meeting. Don’t you just hate it when people ditch a scheduled meet-up on short notice? In a professional setting, failing to show up in a meeting or an interview is a big red flag that might hurt a person’s overall impression. However, even if it’s just a casual meeting between friends, it is improper and equally frustrating if people fail to show up. Why?

– First, people allot some time for you, showing you matter. Disregarding that tiny consideration by not showing up is disrespectful and in many ways ungrateful.

– Freeing time for someone costs money, effort, and a whole lot of other things. You never know what that person is missing on doing just because they made time for you. Keep your word and show up. [Read: Stop the craziness in life: How to deal with rude people]

#2 Punctuality. Aside from showing up, it is equally important to show up on time. Being late means lost time, less things done, and a lot of stress on both parties.

Again, even if it’s for a date, a business meeting, or just a casual get-together between friends, being punctual is basic courtesy and respect. It means giving your best effort to wake up early and managing your time prior to the event.

#3 Dressing appropriately. Because the civilized world doesn’t care if you’re rocking those tattered signature jeans or if your get-up is Kylie Jenner inspired. If you’re going to dress up, make sure it’s appropriate for the event you’re attending. Don’t use “personal style” as a reason for dressing sloppy. Always dress the occasion. [Read: How to be graceful and elegant no matter what the occasion]

#4 Public fridge etiquette. Specifically suited for the office refrigerator, don’t eat or take what is not yours, even if it’s unlabeled. Ask everyone if a particular food item in the fridge belongs to somebody. The rule of dibs doesn’t apply here.

#5 Respond to RSVPs properly. Consider you got an invitation. It means you’re wanted to be there. Accord the same courtesy by responding to their invitation properly and in a timely manner.

Not answering is not the same as declining. Respond in three ways: yes, no, or ask them for more time to secure your schedule to be sure. If you don’t respond and show up suddenly, you’ll be giving the organizers hell. [Read: How to be more social: 19 ways to genuinely connect with others]

#6 Proper phone etiquette. Since we’re in the age where almost everyone owns a phone, this is very relevant and requires a long list.

– Don’t use your phone when in a conversation—not only is it disrespectful; it is a blatant sign that you’re bored and disinterested with your present company, which can be seen as offensive.

– Try to avoid talking over the phone in public transport. If you must, use a softer speaking voice as not to disturb the other passengers. Trust us, they don’t want to hear your conversation.

– If you must take a call in the middle of a conversation, excuse yourself and move someplace else. Again, other people don’t want to hear what your conversation is about.

– Put your phone in silent mode when required: inside the classroom, library, or while you’re in a restaurant with a date.

– And for the last time, don’t whip out your phone in the middle of a movie screening.

#7 Social media. Needless to say, this can be very relevant too. Since social media is that lonely dark place where there is negligible to zero proper social etiquette most of the time. Yet we can’t tear ourselves away.

– Stop sharing TMI–stop airing your dirty laundry. If you’re going to fight with your spouse or girlfriend or hurl expletives and insults at a family member, do it within your personal space and not on your Facebook wall. People don’t need to see it. [Read: 8 annoying social media users that make you wanna scream]

– Avoid rude and inappropriate comments, especially sexually-objectifying ones aimed at women. It is not even close to a compliment, and it does not make you look cool at all.

– Quit sharing tasteless stuff. You might find gore and other crass humor to your liking but not others. We don’t want to see people getting decapitated or run over by vehicles. [Read: How to be cultured in an age obsessed with social media]

#8 When inviting people over, try your best to be a good host. Even if you are very close to the people you invited. At least clean up your place, prepare some refreshments, and make sure all are entertained and attended to.

#9 Same goes when you’re being invited over. Being a guest is more demanding than being a host.

– Try to appreciate all that your host is doing for you. Don’t criticize the quality and quantity of food, drinks, and the quality of the décor or the size of the place.

– Unless instructed, try to bring something for your host. It may be a bottle of wine, dessert, or at least a bunch of flowers.

– Offer to help during the clean-up after dining. Your host might decline your help but offer it anyway. [Read: 10 surefire ways to be the best houseguest ever]

#10 Don’t break up with someone… Over text or chat—because it feels inhumane to end a relationship virtually. Even if your relationship is about to end, be a human being. As much as possible, talk in person.

In public, such moments deserve privacy. Have the talk at home or in some other public place but don’t make it a screaming contest on the street. [Read: 12 of the worst ways to break up with someone who loves you]

#11 Clean up after your pets. Bring a bag with paper towels, old newspapers, or plastic bags to wrap up the poop after your dog does its business. Be a responsible owner and never leave your dog filth lying around the street.

#12 When traveling. Traveling provides a whole new set of rules varied by country, but here are some universal etiquette rules to follow.

Be culturally sensitive. The customer is always right does not apply to every place you visit where you can just do whatever you want. The locals try their best to be hospitable, but afford them equal courtesy by knowing the do’s and don’ts in their culture.

– Leave no trace behind. This applies when you’re in the wilderness. You should take back what you bring in: trash or even your own excrement.

[Read: 17 ways to be a citizen of the world while living at home]

Proper social etiquette is one of the defining aspects of the civilized world. Without it, it would just be the same as the Walking Dead where people just did whatever they want at their own expense.

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Paul Timothy Mangay
Paul aka Morty is a keyboard-pounding cubicle-dweller based in Manila where he occasionally moonlights as a writer for anyone in need of his mediocre word-strin...
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