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Manners and etiquette are the glue that keep society civil and social interactions pleasant. For almost every social interaction, there are clearly defined "proper" and "vulgar" ways to engage in it. If you are aware of the acceptable and courteous ways to meet others, keep a conversation going, and treat others in public spaces, your image as a refined person may shine. You may also be more likely to experience the respect and consideration that you put forth into society. Read on to learn more about manners and etiquette in common social situations.
Meeting and Greeting Etiquette
When you're being introduced to a new person, you should stand. A firm handshake should follow, coupled with friendly eye contact. When speaking to the newly introduced person, use their formal titles when addressing them. For example, if you've been introduced to a man, say "Mr." before stating his surname. This practice may be altered, if the other party requests that his given name be used instead. Similarly, formal greeting phrases like, "How do you do?" may be traded for simpler, more informal ones like, "Hi," once you have successfully established a rapport. If you are introducing two strangers, formal titles should be used in their introductions, as well as other, identifying any relevant information, such as professional background or common interests.
Etiquette practices may have changed throughout history, but many of the concepts have remained the same. Handshakes and the volunteering of identifying information between two strangers, for example, have always been important to establish trust and encourage conversation. Today, still, conversation topics should always be refined, without the interruption of the expression of thoughts, arguments, or talking too much about oneself.
Some of the same practices of general social etiquette apply to other interpersonal situations, such as business scenarios. Like in general social situations, firm handshakes and eye contact are encouraged, and may even be a predecessor to good business relations, as they convey confidence, competence and interest in a business deal. This same type of etiquette should be practiced at job interviews to increase the potential for winning a coveted position.
Manners and Etiquette
Respect other people's conversation topics, ideas, and time by putting away your cell phone while speaking to them face-to-face. Repeated checking of your phone may convey disrespect and annoyance. If you and several people are approaching a door to an establishment and you arrive first, hold the door open for the person behind you. Similarly, allow elevator riders the opportunity to exit before boarding it, and hold the door open for others who express interest in catching a ride.
Your behavior in communal places is also a way to showcase your manners. It's typically considered vulgar to engage in public displays of affection, and it may even be culturally offensive to some. Using a loud voice in a shared space can be annoying to others, especially if your speech contains curse words. Not cleaning up after yourself, spitting, and coughing or sneezing on someone in these same spaces is extremely discourteous and are potential health hazards.
The mastery of manners can do everything from convey consideration, civility, and awareness of social mores. One of the hallmarks of a courteous person is a desire to express gratitude. Express your thanks, even when others are engaging in common courtesies.
If you're a man, wait until the women in your party are seated before sitting down yourself. To exercise great manners, pull out their seats for them. During a small dinner, it's good manners to wait until everyone is served and the host begins eating before starting a meal. It's typically considered a faux pas to keep or rest anything on a dining table – even if you're waiting to be served. If you absolutely must use a cell phone at the table, you should preface reaching for it with an, "Excuse me." Avoid chewing with your mouth open, talking while your mouth is full, and burping. Treat everyone around the table with respect and courtesy – including the waitstaff. If you have an offer of alcohol, but don't want to drink, simply hold your fingers on the glass while politely declining. Make sure you keep your elbows off the table while doing it.
Miscellaneous Etiquette Resources
Written By Sophie Pierce.