Etiquette is used in all sorts of situations. Whether you’re at a formal event or just respecting the rules or traditions of another person’s culture, a lot of things come into play when using etiquette.
From the placement of cutlery at a formal dinner to RSVP’ng for an event, some people don’t even know the most common and basic rules for following proper etiquette.
If you’re one of those people, or if you just want to touch up on your etiquette skills, here are 12 etiquette rules that you should know.
1. For those of you who don’t know, RSVP is an acronym for “respondez s’il vous plait,” which is French for “respond, if you please.” Some people avoid RSVP’ing until the very last minute, which can cause event holders a lot of problems.
It’s proper etiquette to respond within the time frame indicated on the invitation. Some event holders need to make proper arrangements such as how much food to buy, which is next to impossible to know if the guests do not receive RSVP in time. So the next time you get an invitation, use proper etiquette and respond by the indicated date to help the host out.
2. It can get a little confusing when you sit down to eat at a formal dinner and are faced with all sorts of different sized and shaped utensils. Have no fear, because this form of etiquette is actually a lot more simple than it looks. All you have to do is work from the outside in.
The shortest fork is for a salad. Once the other courses start coming, all you have to do is work your way in.
3. A thank you note can go a long way in certain situations. Whether it is after an interview, a business meeting, a party or even after receiving a gift, it is considered good etiquette to send a thank you note.
Try not to make the thank you note sound too formal, and don’t use a standard template. It doesn’t have to be long (sometimes short and sweet is better), but make it personal and unique to your own situation. It will go a long way.
4. This may seem like common sense, but if you’ve ever taken public transportation or eaten at a very busy restaurant, you’ll understand where I’m coming from. It has to do with your personal hygiene.
Your personal hygiene belongs at home. Do not brush your hair, clip your nails or even put on deodorant in a public space. It is disrespectful to those around you and also kind of gross. Also, I shouldn’t even have to say this…but always wash your hands after using the bathroom and before dealing with another person’s food.
5. Being on time is one of the most important forms of etiquette you will learn in your life. Being late shows a lack of respect (whatever the situation is), and if it is a consistent thing it is never okay.
Being late is not only disrespectful, but it is also incredibly rude. If it is something which happens all the time it will make others lose respect for you and could even cost you a promotion, job, or new opportunity. If your friends, colleagues or even employer start to notice the habit, it will never turn out good.
6. Smartphones these days are almost like mini-computers that you can fit into your pocket. Lots of people completely lack any form of etiquette when it comes to cell phones. It’s rude, annoying and straight up disrespectful to constantly be on your phone while in a social setting.
If you’re hanging out with your someone try to avoid using your cell phone. Do not pick up your cell phone and start texting mid-conversation. If it’s an emergency, kindly excuse yourself. Also, try to avoid talking on your cell phone while waiting in line, while at a restaurant, while you’re driving, and of course in a movie theater.
7. If you decide to pop in on a friend or family member while in their area, it is considered proper etiquette to call before you visit. You never know if someone is sick, having a bad day, or just laying around in their pajamas being lazy on their day off.
It’s never really a good idea to “pop in” without contacting the person first. Like the saying goes, no one wants to be caught with their pants down, so to avoid this just call before you visit.
8. Eating with your mouth open or talking with your mouth full of food is not only disgusting, but also disrespectful to the people around you.
We’ve all had that delicious burger or slice of pizza that we’ve wanted to devour like animals, but doing that in public is never the right place. Wait until you’re in the comfort of your own home (preferably alone) to eat as sloppy as you want, but be respectful of others while in public and don’t.
9. If someone is talking, never interrupt them. It’s common sense: treat others how you would expect to be treated. If someone is in the middle of talking or doing something it is considered a bad form of etiquette to interrupt them in any way.
It is rude, disrespectful, and will signal to others that they have the right to interrupt you as well. So before you interrupt anyone, let them finish whatever they are doing before you have anything to say or add.
10. It is common courtesy to hold the door for a person who is following right behind you as you exit or enter a doorway.
Do not let the door slam in a person’s face. And as you’ll see in the next page, don’t forget to say thank you if someone holds the door open for you.
11. This one is common sense, but lots of people don’t remember to do it. Like our mothers and fathers taught us, you should always remember to say please and thank you.
It is one of the oldest and most common forms of etiquette, but you would be surprised by how many people seem to have forgotten that these words exist in the English language.
12. If you’re coughing or sneezing, turn away from people and do not cough or sneeze into your hand.
If you can, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow or into a handkerchief or napkin. It is extremely rude and disrespectful to cough or sneeze into your hands and then go about your everyday life spreading your germs.