Use “please” and “thank you” when you’re asking for something. Whenever you make a request or you need to ask for something, start by saying “please.” That way, it doesn’t sound like you’re demanding the other person to do things for you. Once someone completes the task that you asked them to do, respond by saying “thank you” so the other person knows you’re grateful for what they just did.
For example, you may say, “Can you please hand me that book?” Once they hand you the book, say, “Thank you.”
Say “thank you” whenever someone helps you in a small way, such as a person ringing you up at a store or a person taking your order at a restaurant.
If someone says “thank you” to you, respond with “you’re welcome” to stay polite.
Introduce yourself by name when you meet someone for the first time. If you’re getting together with someone and you haven’t met before, introduce yourself by name and ask them what their name is. When they say their name, repeat it so you have a better chance at remembering it later on. Offer your hand for a handshake and use a firm grip, but not so firm that you hurt the other person.
For example, you can say, “Hi, my name is James. What’s yours?”
Different cultures and countries have different manners when it comes to introductions, so make sure you’re familiar with the etiquette where you are.
If you’re with another person and you run into somebody you know, be sure to introduce them to one another if they haven’t met before. For example, you may say, “Hi John, this is Melissa. Melissa, this is John.”
Listen to other people without interrupting them. When another person starts talking, make eye contact with them and pay attention to what they’re saying so you can carry on the conversation. Avoid trying to talk over them or cutting them off since you’ll come across as rude. Once the person is done speaking, respond to what they just said so they know you were listening to what they were telling you.
If you and another person start talking at the same time, stop and ask them to continue to show that you care about what they have to say.
Avoid using bad language. Inappropriate language can come across as rude, especially when you use it in public conversation. Do your best to try and eliminate curse words from your vocabulary while you’re talking with other people. Rather than saying the word, try to find a replacement or just pause during your conversation to recollect your thoughts and plan out what you’re going to say.
For example, you may use the words “dang” or “darn” in place of harsher curse words.
You may also find more descriptive adjectives in place of bad words. For example, instead of saying something is “f***ing great,” you may say it was “amazing” instead.
Offer to help other people to show that you’re respectful and courteous. If you see someone in need of help, ask if there’s anything you can do for them. If the request is reasonable and you can do it easily, take the time to assist the other person. This could be as simple as holding a door open for someone or helping someone carry a heavy item.
For example, you can approach the person and say, “Would you like any help carrying that?”
Sometimes you may not need to ask to help someone. For example, you can hold a door open for someone who’s coming in behind you or you may offer your seat on a bus to someone who needs to sit down.
Respect other peoples’ personal space. People often don’t like to be touched when they aren’t expecting it and it can make them feel uncomfortable. Be aware of how close you’re standing or sitting next to other people and watch their face and body language to determine how they feel about it. If they don’t look like they’re comfortable around you, then give them more space and apologize to them.
If you accidentally bump into someone, say something like, “Excuse me, I’m sorry.”
Congratulate people on their accomplishments to be a good sport. Being a good sport shows that you’re respectful and know how to acknowledge someone’s success. If one of your friends wins something or gets a promotion, say something like “Congratulations!” or “That’s great!” to them so they know you care about them.
Don’t make someone else’s success about you. For example, if someone won a game against you, don’t say, “It’s only because I made some bad plays.” Instead, say something like, “You did a great job. You had a really good strategy.”
Write thank-you notes when someone gives you something. In addition to saying “thank you” in person, reach out within a few days with a thank-you note if they give you a gift or do something special for you. In your note, tell them how much you appreciate what they’ve done and let them know how it affects you. At the end of the note, use a closing such as “Warm regards” or “Best” before signing your name.
For example, you may write, “Dear Jane, Thank you for the journal you got me for my birthday. I can’t wait to write in it and keep it with me every day. I really appreciate it! Best, John.”
Avoid calling attention to other people's inherent traits such as gender, physical appearance or similar. Paying too much attention to these traits can make a person feel as if you do not see them as an individual, but only as a type or member of a group. This often comes across as disrespectful or presumptuous, even if you do not mean it that way.
For example, rather than asking where somebody is from because their face looks different from yours, show your interest in their life and personality by asking about their profession, hobbies or similar things.
Rather than complimenting the looks of somebody you do not know well, compliment their choice of clothes.
Keep any devices off the table so you don’t get distracted. Avoid setting your phone or tablet on the table while you’re eating with other people since it distracts you from the conversation. Set your phone to silent or vibrate, and keep it in a pocket or bag throughout your meal. Don’t answer it unless there’s an emergency.
If you need to respond to a text or take a phone call, excuse yourself from the table first by saying something like, “Excuse me, I need to take this. I’ll be right back.”
Wait until everyone else has been served before you start eating. Don’t start eating immediately as you sit down since it’s rude to start if people don’t have their food. Instead, patiently wait in your seat while everyone else serves themselves or gets served before you take your first bite. That way, you can all enjoy your food at the same time and experience your meal together.
This goes for eating at home or at a restaurant.
Hold your utensils properly. Hold your fork and knife like you’re holding a pencil rather than holding them in your fist. When you need to cut something, hold the knife in your right hand and your fork in your left. Once you cut your food, you can either use your fork in your left hand or set your knife down so you can use your fork with your right hand.
Be sure to use the proper silverware for your meal. If you have multiple knives and forks, use the outermost ones first before using the others for additional courses.
Don’t chew with your mouth open. Chewing with your mouth open or talking while you’re eating is usually considered rude since no one wants to see the food in your mouth. Take small bites of your food and chew them completely with your mouth closed before swallowing or speaking. If someone is talking to you while you’re eating, wait until you’ve swallowed your food to respond to them.
Cut your food into smaller pieces so your mouth isn’t too full and so you can chew your food easier.
Ask someone else at the table to pass things to you. Avoid reaching across the table since you can get in other people’s way and it would be considered rude. Address the person closest to the thing you want on the table and ask them to pass it to you. Once you receive the item you want, be sure to thank them to show that you’re polite.
For example, you may say, “Julia, could you please pass me the butter?”
If there’s no room on the table in front of you to put the item down, ask the person if they could put it back for you. For example, you may say, “Can you please set the bowl back down for me? Thank you.”
Avoid putting your elbows on the table while you’re eating. You may keep your elbows on the table before and after your meal as well as between courses while you’re talking. Once you have your food, keep your hand in your lap when you aren’t using it so you aren’t resting your elbows or arms on the edge of the table.
Cover your mouth if you need to get something out of your teeth. If you get something stuck in your teeth, cover your mouth with either your napkin or your hand so other people can’t see. Try to be discrete while picking anything out of your teeth so you don’t draw attention to yourself. Once you get the food out of your teeth, put it on the side of your plate or wrap it in your napkin.
If you aren’t able to get the food out of your teeth within a few seconds, excuse yourself from the table so you can go to the bathroom.
Excuse yourself from the table if you need to get up. If at any point during the meal you need to go to the bathroom, check your phone, or leave, say “excuse me” before standing up so others know you need to go somewhere. You don’t need to give the reason why you’re leaving as long as you come back and sit down again.
For example, you may say, “Excuse me, I’ll be right back,” when you get up from the table.
Don’t say negative or offensive things on social media. Before you post anything online, take a few minutes to consider if it’s something you would say in person or to someone’s face. If it’s not something you would share, then avoid posting it on your profile since it could come across as negative or offensive to other people who see it.
Try writing out angry or negative posts in a different document rather than on social media sites. That way, you can come back to them later and determine if it’s something you really need to post.
Talk directly to people rather than posting an angry or offensive status about them. That way, you can work through the problem privately so you don’t post anything publicly.
Avoid posting or tagging pictures of other people without their permission. It may seem funny to post an unflattering picture of a friend and tagging them in it, but it could hurt their feelings if it appears on their profile. Talk to the person directly before posting anything to make sure it’s okay with them. Send them the picture you want to post so they know what to expect. If they ask you not to post it, respect their decision and don’t share it.
Tagged photos usually show up prominently on someone’s social media account, so other people could see the photo and judge the person you tagged for it.
Think about if you would want your friend to post a picture of you in a similar situation. If you wouldn’t want the picture of you posted online, then chances are your friend wouldn’t want the photo posted either.
Don’t overshare personal information on your social media accounts. Oversharing can be writing posts with private information or just posting too many things throughout the day. Think about if you want the information you’re sharing online to be publicly available before you post it.
Social media sites like Twitter are more acceptable for posting multiple times throughout the day as opposed to sites like Facebook or Linkedin.
Never post personal information like addresses, phone numbers, or passwords online since you could get hacked or scammed.
Write your posts in regular sentence case rather than in capital letters. Using capital letters online usually comes across like you’re yelling at the people reading your posts. When you write your posts, only use capital letters when you’re starting a sentence, including a proper name, or abbreviating a phrase. That way, people will read your posts in a regular tone of voice.
For example, “PLEASE READ MY NEW POST!” reads much more aggressive than, “Please read my new post!”
Don’t send unsolicited messages or pictures to someone. It may be tempting to send messages or pictures to people you don’t know, but it can make them feel uncomfortable if they don’t want them. Use the same conversational manners as you would if you were speaking in real life so you don’t come across as rude. If you don’t know the person, introduce yourself and wait for a response. If they don’t respond, don’t spam them with more messages since they may just not want to talk.
Check your social media settings so you can limit who sends you things if you’re worried about receiving unsolicited messages.