Social Etiquette: Everything You Need To Know About Behaving Well

Learning social etiquette is not just something you do for your “public face”. Social etiquette rules can help you to thrive in your social life!

Researched, written by
Updated on July 9, 2023

Stylish Elegant Social Etiquette Rules Experts

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Put-Together, Polished Woman As A Symbol Of Social Etiquette

When it comes to social etiquette, a lot of people tend to forget the basic rules.

Sure, almost everyone knows to say “thank you” or “goodbye”, but good social manners are more than just a few kind words…

To be known as someone with good social etiquette, you need to learn a few important social etiquette rules that come in handy in various life situations.

They will help you to look and act your best as a guest, in business meetings, when communicating with other people, and in various other situations.


Social Etiquette: Everything You Need To Know About Manners And Behaving Well


What Is Social Etiquette?


Social etiquette is a set of rules, manners, and actions that help people to portray themselves as pleasant, polished, and professional human beings.

People who are social etiquette experts know how to behave and look their best in various social situations.


Why Is Social Etiquette Important?


While social etiquette may seem like a ton of unnecessary rules to follow, it can actually be very beneficial for your life.

Here’s why:

  • Social etiquette shows you how to behave in different social settings, so you don’t have to question your own behavior.
  • Social etiquette allows you to look like a kind and caring person – which is something everyone likes about others.
  • Social etiquette helps people to interact with each other in a way that prevents unnecessary social confrontation or drama.
  • Social etiquette makes it easier for you to build and maintain connections.
  • Learning social etiquette can teach you how to communicate effectively and nicely.
  • Social etiquette can help you to look more professional and make a good impression.

These are just a few of the social etiquette benefits.

There are many more, but just these few can make a huge difference in your social life!

Stylish Woman In Perfectly Ironed Clothes As An Illustration Of Social Etiquette


5 Basic Social Etiquette Rules


These social etiquette rules are very common around the world, and they’re something every person should know by default.

However, before we dig into more specific social etiquette rules, let’s remind ourselves of the basics as well.


1. Always Say “Thank You” And “You Are Welcome”


If someone did something nice for you, always express it verbally.

A simple “thank you” is generally enough and should never be forgotten.

And if someone is thanking you, make sure to show that you accept their gratitude by saying “You’re welcome!”.


2. Hold The Door For a Person Behind


No matter if you’re a woman or a man, it’s a basic social etiquette rule to not slam the door at anyone who walks behind you.

Be helpful – hold the door!

This will show that you are considerate of others.

Plus, Hodor approves it.


3. Cover Your Mouth When Sneezing Or Coughing


No one likes to be coughed on… So, when you feel that tickle coming in, follow social etiquette by sneezing or coughing into your elbow.


4. Do Not Use Your Phone While Eating Or Communicating With Others


One of the modern social etiquette rules dictates we to not be looking at our phones all the time while with others.

Admit it – it’s not pleasant to talk to someone who is interested in their phone more than you.


5. Be Punctual


That’s a simple social etiquette, but it can make or break a lot of social situations.

Just don’t be late and don’t make others wait for you.

Don’t come too early as well.

It’s best to be there just on time, or just a little bit before it.


Now that we reviewed the basic social rules (that everyone should follow), let’s expand your social etiquette skills further!

Over the next few sections, we’ll be listing a ton of specific social etiquette rules that are helpful in different social settings.



Social Etiquette For Business, Meetings, And Work Situations



Remember the names of people you meet in business and professional meetings.


When shaking hands, keep gentle and kind eye contact.

Do not hold the hand too hard or too gently – strive for optimal balance.


If you are bringing lunch to work, it’s best to choose food options that have less smell or have more pleasant odors.

You know… Sometimes it’s really a good idea to rethink that tuna sandwich…


When you’re sick, be a good coworker and stay at home.

Of course, sick days may have an impact on your performance report or your income, but getting your colleagues sick is something that can ruin your whole professional image.


Take your personal calls in a private place.

Social etiquette suggests leaving your personal matters at home.


Always dress according to your company’s dress code or protocol.


It’s generally considered good social etiquette to bring a gift when meeting a new customer or potential lead.


Never listen to something on your computer or phone without putting your headphones on.

A lot of people are sensitive to sounds, and it’s a sign of bad social etiquette to make everyone listen to something they don’t want.

Pretty Smiling Woman With Glasses As A Symbol Of Social Etiquette At Work


Social Etiquette For Better Communication



Before addressing someone as “you”, or even before using their first name, it’s good social etiquette to ask about it.

Not everyone likes to be referred to as “you” and some people have a specific preference when it comes to names.


If you have done something wrong, if you’ve hurt someone, be a good person and say “I’m sorry”.


When in the discussion, small chat or conversation, allow people to end their thought.

It’s very rude to interrupt and speak over other people.


Visiting someone at their home?

Before you decide that bringing kids or pets means no difference to the party host, it’s best to call and ask them about it.


Always knock before entering the door!


Do not gossip and do not talk about someone behind their back.


This is an old tradition, and may not apply to all countries, but it’s generally considered good social etiquette to bring a gift or food when visiting someone at their home.


Pay for yourself after a date to prevent the unnecessary feeling of owing someone. 


Are you bringing someone to the party?

Make sure to introduce this person to the people you know.

This way, you’re helping your guest to feel more included, and it can help your friends to get to know him or her faster.

High-Class Work Team As An Illustration Of Social Etiquette


Social Etiquette Outside Your Home



After using a shopping cart, follow good social etiquette by taking it back to its place.


If you’re walking your dog, clean up after it.


When using gym equipment, make sure to wipe it after.

No one likes to sit down on a sweaty seat!


When sleeping at someone’s home, or when staying at a hotel, follow good social etiquette by leaving your room more or less tidy.

Make your bed and do not leave your bathroom in terrible shape.

After dinner, show your social etiquette skills by helping your host to clean up.


It’s generally good social etiquette to tip!

Most countries appreciate the tipping of waiters, bartenders, taxi drivers, barbers, and hotel staff.


Social Etiquette In Places With a Lot Of People



Give your seat to the elderly and pregnant women.


Do not point at things with your fingers, especially if there are a lot of people around.

This may sound weird, but you can unintentionally point at a person and make them feel uncomfortable.


Just like pointing fingers at someone is not cool, staring at others is a sign of bad social etiquette as well.


Clean up after yourself everywhere you go.

Do not leave a mess after yourself… It’s unpleasant and can make you look bad in other people’s eyes.


At dinner parties, lunch, brunch, and other meetings where people sit down to eat, always wait before everyone is served and ready to eat.

Eating without waiting for others is a sign of bad social etiquette and it’s best to avoid it at all costs.


Speaking of food, it’s generally better to not pour drinks for yourself as well.

In many countries, it is considered bad social etiquette – especially if you are a woman (sadly!).


Respect people and their personal space.

Do not stand too close, and don’t touch anyone without their permission.


In situations where there are people getting close to both sides of the door, remember that people who get out should go first.

Step aside and let people come out freely – you can then come through the door without collision.


Before going to a party, or social event, make sure to find out what is the preferred dress code – and dress accordingly.


Before bringing pets to an event or someone’s home, make sure to find out if it’s allowed and if it’s acceptable.

There may be people who are allergic to pets, people who have a fear of dogs, children, or people sensitive to loud noises.


Going to the movies?

Turn off your phone sound.


Leave personal care at home, or at least at the bathroom.

Good social etiquette suggests that it’s not a good idea to clip your nails in public, to use lipstick at the table, or to pick your teeth at when there are people around.

Woman Listening To Music With Headphones As An Illustration Of Social Etiquette


Social Etiquette For Social Media And The Internet



Before tagging someone to a photo, or posting a picture with other people, make sure they are fine with you doing this.

Not everyone likes to be tagged or portrayed in not-so-perfect pictures.


Before sending an e-mail, go through it one more time to make sure there are no grammar mistakes, and that your letter is professional or pleasant (if you’re writing to your family and friends).


Think well before posting your own picture to social media as well.

It’s not like there is a particular social etiquette for these pictures… But you should always remember that your future employers, colleagues, and loved ones may find your old posts and even use them against you.


Skip the comment section drama, and don’t get involved in virtual conflicts.

Just be a bigger person – respect yourself by not taking a part in it.


Do not have private conversations in virtual public.

Use direct messaging systems instead of comment threads to communicate with a particular person.


Social Etiquette Is Like a Cherry On Your Personal Image Cake


Congratulations on reviewing all of these social etiquette rules!

While they may seem like a lot, let’s just admit that the way people see us is important.

Your career, love life, and even self-confidence are deeply impacted by the way you present yourself.

Learning social etiquette is not just something you do for your “public face”… A lot of these social etiquette rules are also a way to respect yourself. Because hey, if you know how to respect others, respecting yourself is just a piece of cake.

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