The word etiquette conjures up images of young girls at a finishing school learning how to attract a husband. This often results in thoughts of them walking around with books on their heads and crossing their ankles as they fold their hands in their laps.

That is not etiquette at all!

While the word is old fashioned, the principle is still very relevant today. It stands for behaviour that is acceptable and polite in all public situations. That includes with your family, in a social situation and also in a professional capacity.

Good manners are essential for success in many areas of society. Let’s look at how to display them…

Family Etiquette

Yes, your family are forced to love you because of your blood ties, but wouldn’t you prefer that they actually liked you as well! Here are some examples of essential family etiquette:

  • Respect your family’s personal space - don’t get in their face or go through their belongings
  • Don’t interrupt them when they are talking
  • Be on time - that means for dinner, for meet ups and for getting out of the house
  • Use your manners - please and thank you go a very long way
  • Get your head out of your device during conversations and meal times
  • Chew with your mouth closed
  • Don’t yell or insult each other
  • Pick up after yourself - if you made the mess, you clean it. Those dishes are not going to wash themselves!
  • Be cautious of how you represent your family members on social media

Social Etiquette

Don’t be embarrassed by your public behaviour after the fact. After all, you want to get invited back to visit with friends and be able to go back to local establishments! Follow these basic rules:

  • Always be on time - your time is no more important than anyone else’s. If your friends can get there on time, then so can you
  • Be an engaged conversationalist - make eye contact, listen, respond appropriately, don’t interrupt and don’t be distracted by your phone
  • Give and receive compliments graciously
  • Don’t gossip about your friends - how would you feel if they were talking about you behind your back?
  • Help anyone that seems to be struggling - hold a door open, push their shopping cart, lift heavy things, or get things off a high shelf
  • Don’t attend anything when you are sick
  • Pay your own way, don’t expect your friends to cover the bill for you
  • Treat social media as an extension of your physical interactions - don’t change the way you behave just because you can hide behind a screen. Continue to be respectful, polite and gracious

Professional Etiquette

Earn respect from your co-workers by acting politely and like an actual human being! Your professional reputation is what will help you get promoted, or fired. Choose your actions carefully at work:

  • Arrive on time, ready to work and dressed appropriately
  • Give credit where credit is due - pass on compliments and gratitude and never claim work that isn’t your own
  • Support communal life - unjam the photocopier, fill up the empty coffee pot, don’t eat stinky food, don’t gossip about your colleagues, use your inside voice and don’t take things that aren’t yours
  • Keep your correspondence brief and to the point
  • Behave in an appropriate manner - don’t swear, don’t yell and use your manners
  • Decorate your workspace tastefully - don’t use anything offensive
  • When socialising outside of work, don’t do anything in front of your co-workers that you wouldn’t want repeated around the water cooler!

The biggest etiquette rule is to treat others the way that you would want to be treated. So, every time you are in a public situation, check how your actions are going to be received. If someone said or did the same thing to you, would you like it or not?

That will be your compass for how to behave respectfully.