Manners & Misdemeanors

50 Little Social Etiquette Rules Everyone Should Follow

Make the world a nicer place with these simple gestures.

Etiquette is not just about which fork to use. It’s showing respect for yourself and everyone else in your little corner of the planet. In a world where rudeness often reigns, why not stand out for being polite and thoughtful? You don’t even have to go to charm school or binge-watch The Crown to learn the rules! Here are 50 easy ways to share more kindness and less saltiness this year.

Say “Please” and “Thank You”

Especially to those closest to you.


At the cashier. The bank teller. Your co-worker. Even if he or she doesn’t smile back.

Hold the door for the person behind you

And if someone holds the door for you, always say "thank you"!

Step outside to answer phone calls

Sometimes you have to take the call—but is it always that important? Besides, it’s not so fun to hear your conversation when we’re trapped behind you in line.

Give people a pass

Cranky salesperson? Nasty driver? You have no idea what’s going on with that person right now: Did her dog die? Did he just get bad health news? You don’t have to reward ugly behavior with your own nastiness, which only perpetuates the cycle.

Look at the person who is speaking to you

Seriously. Look up from your smartphone!

Let someone go in front of you in line

We promise it'll make his or her day.

Cough or sneeze into your elbow

This year's flu season is brutal—make sure you're doing what you can to avoid spreading germs.

Learn people's names

Here are some easy ways to remember names.


Handwrite thank-you notes

He or she took the time to send the gift. Take the time to show you care.

Put your smartphone away during meals

Right. Now.

Be on time

We’re all busy, so please stop making people wait for you.

Clean up after your pet

It’s just plain icky to leave it.

Always RSVP

And do it right away before you forget.

Ask before posting

Not everyone wants to be all over social media, and you’re not a reporter—so stop spreading the news.

Curb your potty mouth

We know it’s satisfying like nothing else! But would you want your Grandma to hear? Or your kid?

Keep the noise down at work

Silence the ringer on your smartphone, speak quietly, and turn the sound down on your pinging email so it’s not bugging everyone in the other cubicles.

Shake hands firmly

And stand and make eye contact when you do it.

Don't bring your smelly leftovers to the office

Or at least eat stinky foods in the break room, not at your desk.

Dress for the cccasion

Know how to rock it for the club or dress modestly for a funeral. And please wear your PJs at home, not to the grocery store!

Use your turn signal

It's not just courteous, it can help avoid an accident.

Wash your hands after using the bathroom

Because just... eww!

Park your shopping cart on the side of the aisle

Not in the center! The rest of us are shopping, too.

Ask permission to use someone's first name


Yes, it’s a super-casual society, but it’s never wrong to use a title until you know what the person prefers.

Clean up after yourself

At home. At work. At a friend’s house.

Wait a day before reacting to a snarky email or text

We know it’s tempting to slam the person immediately, but that often backfires.

Push your chair in when you leave a table

Don't make someone else do it for you.

Ask before bringing a guest

Or your kids. Or your pet. Don’t assume they’re automatically invited, no matter how well you know your host or hostess.

Wait until everyone has been served to start eating

No matter how much you want to dig in ASAP.

Be a good dinner guest

Certainly, if you have a food allergy, you can mention it ahead of time. But if you don't like collard greens or don’t do carbs, don’t announce it in front of everyone and expect your host or hostess to make you a special dish.

Sit like a royal

The “duchess slant,” with your knees and ankles close together and your legs on a slant keep things modestly princess-like when you’re wearing a skirt or dress (Duchess Kate has mastered it!).

Stay home when you're sick

Some things, like your cold, should not be shared.

Knock before you enter

No one likes to be barged in on.

Remember your table manners

Napkin on your lap. No elbows on the table. Chew with your mouth closed.

Reach out to people who are grieving

Don’t pretend nothing happened. If you don’t know what to do, simply say you’re sorry.


Let people get off the elevator first before you get on

The same rule goes for the train and the bus.

Teach your kids good manners

And lead by example.

Silence your smartphone at the movies

And stop crinkling that candy wrapper so loudly, while you're at it.

Help someone who's clearly struggling

The next time you see someone straining to reach something on the highest shelf at the grocery store, help her out!

Thank a veteran for his or her service

Here are 10 ways to say "thank you" to the veterans in your life.

Bring food

Take cookies, soup, or a casserole to a new neighbor, someone who just lost a family member or a friend who’s had a serious health diagnosis.

Wipe down the exercise machine after you use it

Your fellow gym-goers will appreciate it.

Take your shopping cart to the corral

Or back to the store entrance.

Don't groom yourself in public

Don’t clip your nails, brush your hair, or floss your teeth in public. Because it's just gross.

Skip controversial or nosy topics at parties

No politics, religion, asking when they're getting pregnant, or how much weight she lost. We’re all here to have fun not start a debate, remember?

Learn to say you're sorry

Be the bigger person.

When you enter a room, greet everyone

No one likes to be ignored.

Return calls

If someone takes the time to leave you a voicemail, take the time to call him or her back.

Never show up empty-handed

Check out our favorite hostess gifts and housewarming gifts.


Be a pleasant house guest

Make your bed. Don’t monopolize the bathroom. Take your hostess out to dinner, or send a gift later. You want to be invited back, right?

*This story originally appeared on
*Minor edits have been made by the editors

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Arricca Sansone
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