Etiquette 21st Century Style

According to Wikipedia,  Etiquette is a code of behaviour that delineates expectations for social behaviour according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class or group. The French word étiquette, literally signifying a tag or label, was used in a modern sense in English around 1750. Etiquette has definitely changed and evolved over the years and Rob Asghar, Contributor at Forbes summed it up well in his article on 27 Etiquette Rules of our Times . 

These days there seems to be a tension between how much we should follow our instincts and how much we should yield to social conventions. Our current tendency seems to tilt more towards our instincts, since the conventions are changing fast and there’s no consensus about them anyway. The risk these days is that you don't know whom you might be offending or how you might be sabotaging your own success.

The original etiquette manuals of Western civilization were in fact success manuals. These manuals taught knights and nobles how to conduct themselves in the court of the king or queen which is where we get the concepts of “courtly” and “courtesy.”Fast forward to 2017 and here is what an updated Etiquette manual might look like. You’ll notice a common denominator in all of them: Think about other people’s feelings first because it’s not all about maximizing your personal convenience.

  1. Texting “Hey, I’m running 20 minutes late” is not as acceptable as making the effort to be on time.
  2. If you cannot attend an event that you are  formally invited to, don't think that not RSVPing is the same as declining. And don't RSVP at the last minute for an event that involves real planning by the host.
  3. Show some decency in the office lunchroom. If you didn't put the food in the company fridge, don't eat it. And take your leftovers home or throw them out before they morph into some radioactive nightmare. Don’t leave your dirty dishes in the sink, that is just rude.
  4. Don't bellow on your cell phone. Just because you can't hear the other person well doesn't mean the other person can't hear you. That is just obnoxious.
  5. Turn off your phone at a dinner party, and be in the moment. You’re annoying at least one person who thinks you have no social skills. At bare minimum, turn off the ringer so you can text and conspire in relative stealth.
  6. Remember that if you feel a need to respond immediately to every incoming text, you’ll lose more in the eyes of the person who’s in front of you than you’ll gain from the unseen people who are benefiting from your efficiency.
  7. When you get to the front of the line at Starbucks don’t tell the barista to wait while you wrap up your phone discussion. The barista hates you, and so does everyone behind you. They are hoping the barista spits in your latte.
  8. If you come late to an exercise class, don't think you're entitled to barge your way to your favorite spot in the front.  And don’t block others from weight racks or other equipment—just step back three feet and make everyone happy.
  9. Keep personal conversations and arguments off social networking sites. The dramatic airing of grievances is best done through SMS.
  10. Moderate your use of cameras and video at events. Enjoy your time with colleagues, friends and family in the present and preserve only a memento for the future, rather than recording the entire thing to "relive" later in some "free" time that you’ll never actually have.
  11. Remember how easily e-gossip can be forwarded along to the wrong person.
  12. Just because you’re wearing headphones doesn’t mean you can tune out from social courtesies. For example, if you accidentally cross someone’s personal space, apologize graciously.
  13. Don’t RSVP for an event, then not show. Now you’re not just being rude, but you’re costing the host money, and you’ve probably kept a lonely soul from being invited as a backup.
  14. Don’t be the first or second person to talk on your cell phone in a public space (like a bus or train). If everyone’s doing it, you’re allowed some slack here.
  15. Don’t show up at a party empty-handed, unless you’ve been instructed to -- and sometimes not even then. Bring wine or dessert or a plant.
  16. Use your turn signal at least 50% more than you use your middle finger.
  17. Don't make your dietary requirements everyone else’s dilemma. People who can eat dairy don't just keep coconut oil-based butter around.
  18. If your children are invited to a friend’s house for a play date,they (and you) should also feel invited to help with the cleanup and return the play date.
  19. Don't break up with someone by text. And don't announce a death in the family by text. There are still times when phones or face-to-face are the best way to go.
  20. Don’t discuss sensitive personal issues on Facebook, there is too much drama on FB already.
  21. Your dog is cute, but he or she doesn’t have a pass to go anywhere. Don’t assume it’s okay to bring your dog along to work or to someone’s house. At the very least ask if it is alright to bring your dog.
  22. Double-check that your headphones are plugged-in before streaming your favorite Spotify station.
  23. And finally, would you please ! Chew with your mouth closed;Eat your salad with a fork, not a soup spoon. Don't talk with food in your mouth; Keep your elbows off of the table while eating; Wash your hands after going to the restroom. Never say you just need to 'grab' something.   If you bump into someone, say excuse me. Don't reach across someone's face. Don’t call your wife The Mrs ! Don't call other people hun or sweetie unless you are 110 years old.   Don't board a plane when they’re loading Zone A and you are in Zone D. Don’t let your kids act like wild monkeys in a restaurant. Don't touch a woman’s belly when she is pregnant or even when she isn’t. Don't leave cupboard doors and drawers open—someone can get hurt. And don't pull up to the exit gate in a parking lot without your ticket handy.

This may seem like a lot, and to some it may even seem like an uptight way to live. If you can only remember one thing about the basic success principle underlying all manners, it is this :  Think about other people’s feelings first because it’s still not all about YOU. If you really want to make sure your Etiquette is check, contact Jennifer Grant International for an Etiquette workshop or sign up for an online or in person class with World Authority on Etiquette, my colleague and dear friend  Gloria Starr International  If no one else can help you, she definitely can.  

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