Manners and proper behaviour are still as important as ever, but in these days of social media and instant messaging, it's not always clear what's acceptable. These little etiquette rules should keep you on track.
When to start eating:
Wait for everyone to be served. If you’re seated at a table with eight or fewer guests, wait until everyone is served and for the hostess to begin eating before you dig in. At a long banquet table, it’s OK to start when several people are seated and served. Find out the 14 things your dinner party host is secretly thinking about you.
What to keep off the table:
Anything not food related. All items not having to do with food (and decoration) should remain off the table: keys, clutch bags, sunglasses, and especially phones.
When to text:
Don't text at the table. “If you’re in a situation where you’d excuse yourself to go to the bathroom, you should also excuse yourself before reaching for your phone,” writes Farhad Manjoo on slate.com. Here are 7 real-world situations to gauge how good your manners are.
What to do if you’re not drinking wine:
Don't turn your glass upside down and don’t make a big deal of saying you don’t drink. Simply place your fingertips on the rim of the glass and say “Not today, thanks.” This implies no judgment of those who wish to imbibe.
How to talk on speakerphone:
Tell people they're on speakerphone. Don’t use a speakerphone unless you’re in your office and holding a meeting that’s being attended by someone remotely. Alert the person you’re speaking with that others are present, close the door, and definitely don’t be a chatterbox while you talk. FYI: Using speakerphone at full volume to go through your voice mailbox is the definition of annoying.
How to open the door for someone else:
Whoever arrives first gets the door. It doesn’t matter the gender of either.
How to handle the work kitchen microwave
Don't microwave stinky foods. And you shouldn’t be heating up these foods that should never go in the microwave either.
Here’s some basic airport etiquette:
Don't crowed the boarding area. And once on board, stow your stuff and get out of the aisle quickly. When claiming your baggage, don’t crowd the carousel. Step forward only when you see your bag.
Here’s basic email etiquette:
If all you have to say in your email reply is “Thanks!” refrain from sending it. You’re just clogging an inbox.
Try this basic mobile phone etiquette tip:
Keep your phone out of an IRL situation. When talking to someone in person, don’t glance down at your mobile phone to see who’s trying to reach you. Find out the 13 ways your mobile phone affects your body and mind.
Here’s how to be polite in email:
Things not to do when emailing: shout in all caps, use coloured fonts or clip-art emoticons, attach large files, forward an email unless appropriate.
When to send work texts vs. emails:
Work emails can be sent anytime, but business texts should be restricted to one hour before the start of the workday to two hours after it ends, according to The Modern Gentleman.
Here’s the right way to squeeze a lemon into your drink:
Shield your lemon. Use your hand to shield your lemon as you squeeze it into your iced tea so you don’t inadvertently squirt your dining companion in the eye.
This is basic serviette etiquette people miss:
Dab your mouth before you drink. If you’re eating and want to take a sip, dab your mouth with your napkin to avoid staining the rim of the glass. Here are 7 British etiquette rules we should all adopt.
Here’s a major food passing faux pas:
Don't be greedy. Grabbing a bowl of salad or a saltshaker as it’s being passed to someone who asked for it is the equivalent of cutting in line: greedy and rude.
Here’s the proper way to pass food:
Dishes go counter clockwise. But if someone to your left asks for something, you can hand it directly to him.
Here’s the deal with taking home leftovers:
When out with friends or family – even at a fancy restaurant – it’s fine to ask for your leftovers to be wrapped. But don’t do it at a business lunch or dinner. Here are 13 rude things you need to stop doing at the supermarket.
When to check your phone in meetings:
Don’t check personal devices during a meeting attended by your boss or anyone else who can make her disapproval your problem.
How to properly answer the phone:
State your name on the phone. When answering the phone at work, state your name and place of business: “Widgets, Incorporated. Susan Smith speaking. How may I help you?”
This is the right way to leave a business voicemail:
When leaving voice mails, state your name, place of business, and number. Succinctly say why you’re calling. Repeat step one; say goodbye.
How to behave in an elevator:
Let people off the elevator. You should also hold the doors for others before you board.
How to introduce people at work:
Name the person of greater status first. For example, “Mrs. CEO, I’d like you to meet the mail guy, Ron.”
This is the proper way to use your mobile at work:
Turn your phone on silent. If you leave your mobile phone at your desk, turn it off. Particularly if your ringtone is anything Justin Bieber-ish.
How to handle a sick day:
Stay at home from work when you are sick. Your colleagues will thank you.
How to stand up during a flight:
Respect fellow passengers. If you need to get up during a flight, don’t yank the back of the seat in front of you as you do. Here are 13 things that airlines won't tell you. (One is that good manners will go a long way.)
Remember this piece of playground etiquette:
Share toys. Playground etiquette says that a toy that’s been abandoned is up for grabs until its owner wants it back. Here are 17 forgotten manners every parent should teach their children.
Here’s an essential part of being a good host:
Don't get guests drive drunk. If a guest at your party is drunk, ask him discreetly if he’d like to lie down, if you can arrange for a ride, or even if he’d like to spend the night. Do not let him drive.
How to handle guests at a wedding:
Read the wedding invitation. Don’t ask to bring a guest to a wedding if your invitation doesn’t indicate you may.
Here’s a wedding gift rule all brides and grooms should know
Don't ask for cash. And “no wrapped gifts, please” fools no one.
Here’s the proper way to walk on the footpath:
Go with the flow. Keep to the left on the footpath, and keep moving. Don’t stop to text or check email, especially at a building entrance.
This is the number-one rule about listening to music:
Don't play music too loudly. If you use your iPod with cheap, leaky earbuds, those near you hear your playlist as if it’s being played on the world’s tiniest buzz saw.
This is sunglasses etiquette many people miss:
Remove your sunglasses and earbuds to speak to someone. Leaving them on is just plain rude.
This is modern Wi-Fi etiquette:
Don't hog the WI-FI. It’s OK to piggyback on a neighbour’s free Wi-Fi for emergencies as long as you don’t hog it and do realise it’s not secure.
Try to follow this mobile phone rule:
Avoid public cell phone conversations. Don’t talk on mobile phones in a waiting room, checkout line, restaurant, train, or (heaven forbid!) bathroom stall.
Here’s etiquette for digital RSVPs:
RSVP to legitimate online invitations promptly. Open your email, check your calendar, respond.
When to email thank-yous:
Send separate emails. You can email thank-yous for party invitations and birthday gifts given in person as long as you send each of them separately. (No cc’s.) For mailed gifts, letters of recommendation and wedding presents, a written note is still much more preferable.
How to handle work Facebook friendsz
Treat your boss differently. It’s OK (and even advisable) to follow your boss on Twitter, but you shouldn’t try to friend him or her on Facebook. Friends implies equivalency; followers, not so. Be sure to follow these golden rules of Facebook.
This is basic party etiquette:
Never show up empty-handed. Bring wine or flowers or dessert.
How your answering machine greeting should sound:
Keep it professional. Still own an answering machine? Make sure the outgoing message isn’t annoying or twee.
Follow this instant messaging etiquette:
Always ask if now is a good time to chat. Be respectful of other peoples’ time.
This basic dog walking etiquette is timeless:
Clean up after your dog. No matter where you are. Here are more etiquette tips every dog owner should know.
Here’s nappy-changing etiquette new parents must know:
Be mindful of where you change the baby. Change the baby away from other people and not on a table where someone might eat. At someone’s house? Ask where is a good place to do it.
Here’s the proper way to enter a cab with colleagues:
Go first in a taxi. When getting into a cab with your boss, go first so she doesn’t have to scooch across the seat.
How to handle a dropped call:
Call back. If a mobile phone call is dropped, the person who initiated the call should redial – even if you’d wrapped things up.
Here’s the right way to converse with someone with an accent
Don't ask “where are you from?” If you chat long enough, it will come up naturally in conversation.
Follow this basic RSVP etiquette:
Make sure to RSVP. Don’t assume that not sending in an RSVP is the same a responding “no.”
Here’s a basic rule for social media posts:
Be careful what you post. Don’t post sensitive personal information on social media, especially if your co-workers can see what you post.
Keep this mobile phone rule in mind during a bad connection:
Don't yell into the phone. Even if you can’t hear the person on the other end very well, that doesn’t mean they can’t hear you.
Here’s a basic rule for pet owners:
Ask before you bring your pet. Your dog Snickers may be very cute, but don’t assume that everyone wants your pet in their home (or shop).
Here’s the hard truth about punctuality:
Always be on time. Letting the person know you’re running late doesn’t make it acceptable (unless it is a genuine emergency). Show others you value their time!
This article first appeared on Reader's Digest.