13 social etiquette rules classy people always follow (so you should, too)

Have you ever wondered what sets the truly elegant and sophisticated people apart from the rest of the crowd? 

The secret lies in their ability to practice social etiquette – something that many of us have forgotten all too easily in this fast-paced world. 

Now, you don’t have to go to etiquette school to learn how to master the delicate dance of social graces (although if you can, why not?). I’m here to help you out with a list of the social etiquette rules classy people always follow. 

Let’s dive in and delve into the world of manners, charm, and grace! 

1) Be on time

A huge way to show respect for other people is being punctual. We don’t normally think of this as an expression of courtesy, but it absolutely is.

Whenever you’re late to an appointment or a meeting, you’re telling the other person that their time isn’t as valuable as yours. And that’s incredibly rude. 

Of course, sometimes things do happen, and we end up running late. Traffic may be unexpectedly bad, or maybe an emergency came up. Whatever the reason, make sure to call the person you’re meeting with and explain the situation. 

2) Look at the person you’re talking to

Of all the body language cues that indicate courtesy, it’s eye contact that’s the most powerful. It shows that you’re engaged and genuinely interested in the other person. 

Classy people know the importance of maintaining eye contact during conversations – it’s a subtle way to make others feel respected and heard.

3) Listen before speaking

Just as eye contact is important in face-to-face interactions, so is listening. It’s kind of a no-brainer, really, but in this age of smartphones and so many other distractions, listening is actually becoming kind of a lost art. 

Too many people are now just half-listeners – they hear what the other person’s saying, but they’re also keeping an eye on their phones. Or sometimes, they’re listening but with the intent to speak, you know what I mean?

Either way, it doesn’t feel good for the speaker – they’ll feel ignored or dismissed, and they’ll see you as rude. Not at all classy!

4) Take phone calls outside

While we’re on the topic of phones, this is another point I’d like to stress. Taking phone calls at the table is rude.

Classy people know the importance of being present and attentive in social gatherings. So when they have to take a call while they’re in the middle of a conversation or a dinner, they excuse themselves and take the call outside. 

5) Say “Please,” “Thank you,” and “Excuse me”

You would think that these words would come naturally to everyone by now. After all, this is one of the first things our kindergarten teachers taught us!

But you’d be surprised how quickly people have forgotten these basic graces. I, for one, have experienced people asking for favors without even saying “please.” People have bumped into me with not even an “excuse me” or an apology. 

And…this is something that really struck me as odd – I’ve given gifts to people who didn’t even remember to thank me. 

Let me tell you, those instances were definitely disconcerting. I felt disrespected. I’ll admit to wondering if the world has become too entitled that we take one another for granted too easily. 

6) Don’t embarrass others

Speaking of taking other people for granted, here’s one more thing I’ve noticed in many interactions: sometimes, people love making jokes at the expense of another. 

On the surface, they may be harmless jokes, but as someone who’s experienced this, let me tell you – it can feel uncomfortable and awkward. 

If I could distill the whole landscape of social etiquette into a singular idea, it’s this – it’s all about sensitivity and consideration for others. 

So, classy people avoid putting others in uncomfortable situations or drawing attention to their flaws. They’re always tactful and sensitive to other people’s feelings, and they only want to make everyone around them feel at ease. 

7) Don’t groom yourself in public

What’s another surefire way to make other people uncomfortable? Doing your grooming routine in public!

I get it – maybe you’ve been so busy you haven’t had time to cut your nails or brush your hair. But guess what? That’s no excuse to do those things in public!

Real talk – it’s off-putting. People immediately get turned off if you do these things around them. 

(I’ve even seen people floss their teeth at a restaurant. Yuck!) 

So, do like the classy people – take that private business behind closed doors. Do them at home or at least in the bathroom, if you’re out and about. 

8) Always RSVP

Now let’s talk about etiquette for certain events. The first rule of thumb, when you get invited to an event, is to RSVP.

Think about it: when you plan something, and people don’t respond to your invite, doesn’t it make you anxious? You don’t know how much to prepare because you don’t even know if they’re coming or not!

So, in the spirit of being considerate, responding to invitations promptly is a must for classy people. 

They understand that hosts need an accurate headcount for planning purposes, so they make it a priority to RSVP as soon as possible.

9) Dress for the occasion

If you do decide to attend an event, check the dress code. Is it formal? Semi-formal? Casual? 

I kid you not, I’ve seen people show up to a wedding in jeans and a button-down shirt. Now, I’m not one to judge, but I certainly found that rude because the invitation had clearly stated formal attire. 

And it’s not just in social events that this is important. It’s also essential to dress appropriately for professional settings. I’ve seen a job candidate come to an interview dressed in gym clothes because they’d come straight for the gym! 

(Obviously, they didn’t get the job.)

Showing up to events dressed inappropriately sends the message that you don’t care what the host wants. I understand the need to be who you are and to dress the way you want to, but there’s a line between individuality and rudeness, simple as that.   

10) Greet everyone when entering a room

When entering a room, do you greet everyone, even those you don’t know? If you do, then fantastic! That’s an important social etiquette practice. 

Acknowledging everyone in the room shows you respect them, even if they’re people you’ve never met. It’s a simple gesture that sets the stage for a warm, welcoming atmosphere. 

Because when you think about it, there will definitely be people there who find meeting strangers intimidating. And when you acknowledge them, you’re putting them at ease. 

That’s just a classy way to spread some positivity, isn’t it?

11) Be a good guest 

Alright, so you’re at the event and mingling, having fun with other guests…What’s the right way to behave? 

Well, for me, being a good guest starts even before you show up at the door. It begins with thinking of something to bring so you don’t come empty-handed. That’s just good manners! 

And if you have any food allergies or dietary restrictions (like if you’re vegan/vegetarian), inform the host ahead. It’s never a pleasant surprise for the host to find out that none of the food they’re serving is safe for you. 

Then, once you’re there, relax and have fun! But remember to behave the way you’d want someone to behave in your home. Here are some good reminders so you don’t look like an absolute a** in someone else’s home:

  • Offer to help with last-minute preparations
  • Don’t start eating until the host has started
  • Use utensils correctly
  • Chew with your mouth closed
  • Use a coaster when you’re setting your drink down
  • Compliment the meal
  • Offer to help with cleanup
  • Don’t hog the bathroom
  • Don’t forget to thank your host!

Being a good, classy guest will ensure you’re invited back!

12) Ask permission before you post about someone else

This one’s about social media, and it’s a peek into how classy people use social media responsibly

Before posting anything that involves other people, they ask permission first. Not everyone likes having an online presence, so it’s important to consider that. 

13) Give people grace

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a thought that has helped me be more of a classy person, especially on those days when I’m so tempted to be rude. 

And it’s this: we all have bad days. 

That’s something I always think about when people disappoint me. And it helps me to avoid being judgmental and rude myself. 

Like those times when people forget to say, “Please” or “Thank you”? My knee-jerk reaction would be to think they’re rude or ill-mannered. 

But grace allows me to go the opposite route and understand that there may be other reasons behind their behavior. 

They could just be distracted or maybe they weren’t raised that way. 

I don’t mean you should excuse bad behavior all the time; if someone’s really consistently rude, then it’s only right to call them out on it. 

But a compassionate attitude helps us extend grace and kindness to others. It helps us think the best of them despite their mistakes.

And really, that’s what social etiquette is all about – the whole mindset of being kind, considerate, and respectful to other people. 

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