55 modern social etiquette rules everyone should follow 

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Social etiquette isn’t a thing of the past – in fact, now more than ever we need fewer eyes on screens and more genuine human interaction. 

But it’s not just about using your knife and fork correctly, it’s about taking other people into consideration. 

Here are 55 modern social etiquette rules everyone should follow – let’s make this the year we bring manners back in style! 

1) Make eye contact when speaking to someone 

That means putting your phone away, avoiding staring off into the distance, and actually looking people in the eye when you’re having a conversation or ordering your morning coffee!

2) Use headphones when on the train or in public places

We get it, you’ve got fantastic taste in music. But no one wants to hear it, so use headphones and avoid turning the volume up to max in confined spaces like on the train or bus!

3) Don’t forget your please and thank you’s 

Manners will never grow old – whether someone lets you pass them on the street or holds the door open for you, it takes only a second to acknowledge them with thanks and a smile! 

4) Park in between the lines 

If you can’t, maybe you need to take a few more driving lessons and learn! While it may not seem to be a big deal, someone with mobility issues or young children may struggle if they can’t get into the space next to you with sufficient space to open their doors.

5) Don’t forget to use your indicators when turning!

This is one guessing game no one enjoys playing. Turn signals are there for a reason, not just for decoration! 

6) Hold the door open for the person behind you 

It doesn’t matter whether male or female, manners like this are essential for everyone to observe. And if you notice someone in a rush, it’s polite to let them go through before you!

7) Give up your seat for those who need it 

The elderly, pregnant, or young children may struggle. If you’re capable of giving up a seat, it’ll make their day (and you a local hero for a few minutes!).

8) Don’t click your fingers at a waiter or waitress 

Not unless you want a gross form of bodily liquid deposited in your coffee! Make eye contact, give them a nod, and wait for them to come to you!

9) Don’t record people without their consent 

Not everyone feels comfortable being in front of the camera. Especially if they don’t know you very well and can’t guarantee the video won’t be posted online!

10) Be a good house guest 

Make the bed, clean up after yourself, compliment their house, and most definitely don’t overstay your welcome!

11) Don’t manspread 

We get it, it’s comfortable. But it makes everyone else very UNCOMFORTABLE. Save manspreading for the comfort of your own sofa. 

12) Put your phone away at the dinner table 

Or when you’re on a date, having coffee with a friend, or in a work meeting. Just put the phone away. You will survive. 

13) Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze

If you don’t have a tissue at hand to dispose of, sneeze into your elbow. No one wants your corona cooties! 

14) Be punctual 

Everyone is busy, but you should always plan accordingly to avoid making people wait for you! Set your clock to 5 minutes fast if you really struggle with punctuality. 

15) Don’t post without asking first 

Respect other people’s privacy – don’t assume they’re comfortable having their picture or location shared online. This applies to group selfies, too!

16) Wash your hands after using the bathroom 

Do I even need to explain this one? Cue the corona cooties again.

17) Smile!

Even when you’re not on camera. Smile at the old lady in the street, or the cashier at your local store. It doesn’t take a lot (only 43 muscles) but it could brighten someone’s mood.

18) Don’t turn up uninvited or unannounced to someone’s house 

You really don’t want to disturb people on what could be the one day of the year they have sex. Give them a call beforehand and save yourself (and them) the embarrassment. 

19) Don’t film your good deeds on social media 

Is there anything more cringey than asking your friend to live stream you handing out donations to the homeless? If you do something good, keep it to yourself. It doesn’t stop being an act of goodness just because it’s not publicly displayed! 

20) Wait for everyone’s food to arrive before tucking in 

There’s nothing worse than watching other people tuck in while you’re waiting for your food to arrive. Wait until everyone has been served before digging in.

21) Knock before entering – even if it’s family 

No one likes being barged in on, even if it’s someone you love and trust. Respect people’s privacy, a quick knock is all you need!

22) Put your phone on silent when in the cinema

There’s nothing worse than hearing someone’s notifications going off right in the middle of a movie. Put it on silent, and while you’re at it, if you must scroll through your phone, put the brightness levels down too!

23) Learn people’s names and use them 

Using people’s names shows a level of respect and helps forge deeper relationships…also, the more you say someone’s name, the less likely you’ll be to forget it!

24) Dress appropriately for the occasion

Avoid wearing skimpy clothes or flip-flops to work at the office. Don’t, I repeat, don’t wear your pajamas to the store. And always make an effort when invited to someone’s house for dinner. 

25) Don’t show up empty-handed

It doesn’t take a lot to grab a bunch of flowers or a bottle of wine when a friend invites you around – and no, you shouldn’t recycle a gift given by someone else that you no longer want!

26) Step outside to answer phone calls 

Your phone calls are not as interesting as you think, and no one wants to hear them. Do the polite thing and step outside.

27) Send thank you notes 

If someone has taken the time to buy you a gift or invite you to a celebratory event, the least you can do is say thank you. FYI – handwritten is much more personal than sending a text!

28) Offer your condolences when people are grieving 

Don’t ignore it in the hope it’ll go away. One day when you’re grieving a loss, you’ll appreciate people’s love and support. 

29) Don’t block people’s driveways with your vehicle 

If you must, even for a few minutes, the polite thing to do is knock and let them know! 

30) Tip your delivery man/woman

These guys and gals work hard to make sure you receive your air fryer from Amazon the next day. A tip at Christmas or a cold drink on a hot summer’s day will make the world of difference to their day.

31) Let neighbors know before having a party

If it’s going to get loud, you should let your immediate neighbors know. Also – avoid wild shin digs on a work night, otherwise, you can expect some grumpy faces in the morning! 

32) Give people enough notice when you need to cancel 

There’s nothing worse than getting ready only to be canceled on at the last minute. If you can give people notice, do it!

33) Clean up after your dog 

No, the rain won’t wash it away, and yes, it will smell and get trodden on! Your dog, your responsibility.

34) Be respectful of people working 

Don’t speak loudly or talk on the phone when at work. Avoid playing music and certainly don’t bring in smelly leftovers for your lunch!

35) Take responsibility for yourself 

If you make a mistake, say sorry. If you break something, offer to pay for it. 

36) Include the quiet person in the group 

Be that person who makes everyone feel welcome and included. The world needs more people like this!

37) Don’t speak with your mouth full 

Don’t chew with your mouth open either. Also, unless you’ve just got back from being stranded on a desert island, there’s no need to messily wolf your food down!

38) Praise publicly and criticize privately 

Don’t air your dirty laundry or that of others. If you have a problem with someone, discuss it behind closed doors. In any case, keep your disputes away from social media!

39) Don’t interrupt people when they speak 

Even if what you have to say is super important – it can wait

40) Don’t swipe left or right if someone shows you a picture 

This is for your own benefit as well as theirs! At best you’ll find a screenshotted meme, at worst, nude photos NOT intended for public viewing!

41) Don’t give advice unless asked 

Some people just want sympathy, and some just want to be left alone. Your advice is only valuable if someone requests it.

42) Compliment people 

Most of the population is more insecure than you realize…a compliment when someone has made an effort could go a long way in making them feel good about themselves. 

43) Call people back 

Or at the very least send them a follow-up message. If they’ve taken the time to give you a call, it’s basic manners to get back in touch with them when you can!

44) Don’t correct people’s grammar online

No one likes a know-it-all. Some people didn’t learn well at school or are illiterate. Be kind rather than obnoxious. 

45) Don’t catcall or stare uncomfortably at people 

It’s not attractive, it’s sleazy. If you like the look of someone, you don’t need to gape or make crude remarks. Try approaching them with manners and you’ll get much further!

46) Don’t groom yourself in public 

I know how tempting it is to pluck your eyebrows on public transport because you didn’t have time at home, but it’s best done in the privacy of your bathroom. 

47) Ask before bringing a friend to a party 

Don’t just assume that because you were invited you can bring a guest or two. Always check in with the host beforehand, they might not have planned for extra mouths to feed!

48) Let someone go in the line in front of you at the store 

Especially if they’ve got fewer groceries than you. It’s just the decent thing to do!

49) Push your chair in after eating in a restaurant 

Yes, the waiter/waitress could do it, but it’s far more polite if you tuck in the chair after you get up. This also applies in libraries, classrooms, and offices; basically, anywhere you pull out a chair!

50) Don’t chew on the pen someone just lent you

Even if it’s a deep-rooted habit, avoid sucking the pen lid or chewing the end of the pen. Chances are they’ve already been at it and you’re now sharing germs! Yum!

51) If someone pays for you, be sure to return the favor 

If a friend buys you a coffee, pick up the bill the next time you meet them. If someone treats you to dinner, invite them out the following week. No one likes a cheapskate who leeches off of others!

52) Don’t swear loudly 

Swearing in the comfort of your own home is fine, but keep it under wraps when out in public. Young children don’t need to be around that type of language, and it may offend some adults, too! 

53) Say excuse me 

Even if you didn’t intentionally bump into someone, it’ll show them you meant no harm and you can both continue with your day!

54) Know your audience 

Before talking about religion, politics, or money, know who’s around and what they’ll be comfortable with and what should be avoided! 

55) Let people off the train before you get on 

 The same applies to elevators and busses – you’re not going to get to your destination any quicker and you’ll probably piss a few people off in the process, so just be patient.

Kiran Athar

Kiran is a foodie, writer and traveler. She considers herself a citizen of the world, who gets her inspiration from the people she meets along her journeys. She's currently living in Spain, where she spends her time writing, watching the shepherds and eating tapas in the mountains of Andalucía.

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