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Charm School: 101 - Lesser Known Social Etiquette Tips

Updated on March 9, 2012

Etiquette Counts

Etiquette was invented by bored nobels who had nothing better to do in the French Royal court during the 16 - 1700's. As civilization evolved, certain rules were adopted to separate human behavior and self control from primal, animalistic behavior. Pleasant behavior makes life easier and nicer for everyone. I have consulted the top experts in manners and etiquette for different social settings you may find yourself in, that could be unusual. I have selected different tips and entertaining information that I know will certainly assist for those, "uh oh moments!"

Tact is the ability to cope well in situations to avoid offending others. In some circumstances it is necessary to handle yourself with care in order to maintain good relationships with others. Office parties, dinners, meetings and any other gathering that forces you into the eye of the public will command that you know how to behave as more than a civil human being, but an entertaining and fun, easy person to be around. It makes other guests much more comfortable and it will endear you to the party host.

If you puke on someone - yeah, how to say sorry.


If you have offended another person an apology is necessary. Public or private, spoken or written will depend upon the size and type of infraction. If you have made a minor mistake such as stepping on someone's toe you may say, excuse me, while breaking a hosts Faberge Egg may require a written apology along with an offer to replace said object.

Do not apologize constantly, for everything. It is not necessary and can be annoying. You are not responsible for the rain so do not apologize for things that can not be helped by you.

Borrowing means asking first...Be an ask!

Borrowing Items

While friends often do not mind lending things out there are a few rules that always apply.

  • Always ASK if it is okay otherwise it becomes stealing
  • Return things in the condition they were given to you or better.
  • RETURN the item you borrowed in a timely fashion. Do not force the lender to have to ask you to return their property.
  • If you damage the item it should be replaced with a new or better quality than the item you borrowed.
  • Do not be a chroic borrower. If you need the use of a product that often it is best you probably purchase your own.

Islam - Wife Beating Etiquette

Cross Cultural Etiquette

Prior to any vacation it is imperative that you research the country you will be visiting. Customs and differences can radically vary from land to land.

Remember, when you travel - you are a visitor and should behave as such. "When in Rome - do as the Roman's do."

If you travel to may beat your wife but there is an etiquette! It would be rude to not know thigs such as - "you may hit her - but never in the face to make her ugly." Right - that would be so wrong. Also, you may only do this 10 times - so pick your battles seems to be a good idea. You don't want to beat your wife's ass for burning the toast when you are limited to only 10 whippings....I mean if I were an Islami wife on screw up number 11? I predict it would be a good one - I would do the worst thing I could possibly do considering we had passed the beating limit.

Japanese Etiquette

It is always OK to save your own life!

Save yourself, anytime.

According to, "The New Etiquette," by Marjabelle Young Stewart on Choking etiquette she adds a note:

"When dining alone, the Heimlich maneuver may be performed on yourself by pressing your body against a chair or kitchen sink."

I will add this advice:

"If you are in a social situation and choking to death it is always acceptable to save your own dumb ass."

Would you like fries with that?

Dining etiquette varies from culture to culture - so again, it is a wise idea before traveling to foreign countries to do some homework first. For example:

  • Don't eat taco's with a knife and fork in Mexico. Rude!
  • In some cultures - such as parts of India - it is disgraceful to place your left hand anywhere near your plate - and certainly not near anyone else's! I shudder to think.
  • In China it is bad luck to drop your chopsticks or flip your fish

Take the quiz to see how well you fare.

RR Etiquette

Yes there is an appropriate way to behave in the restroom. I have linked a website that explains every detail about the proper way to behave. This includes where it is most appropriate to speak in the ladies restroom to which urinal is most beneficial for the men to use.

The International Center for Bathroom Etiquette is on a mission. They proudly seek to improve the restroom experience for every individual in the world. Links are provided so that you won't get caught with your pants down - no matter what country you happen to be visiting.

Urinal Etiquette

Who not to tip:

There are certain individuals that should never be offered a tip and are prohibited from accepting such. Never offer a tip to:

  • Government Officials
  • Police Officers
  • Your Teacher/Professor/Instructor
  • Judge
  • The opposing attorney
  • Your date

How Much To Tip

Approximate Gratuity
10 - 20%
10 - 20%
10 - 20%
Taxi Driver
10 - 15% (20% if handling bags)
10 - 20%
Boat Captain
10 - 20%
10 - 20%
Food Delivery
!0% of the total sale
Maitre d' (master of the house)
5 - 10% of the total sale
$1 per bag
$2 to retrieve vehicle
Bathroom Attendants
$1 or more for accessories
Hotel Housekeeping
$2 - $5 per night
10 - 20% of tab
15% of the cost of bottle
Dog Groomer
Up to 20% of total sales price
Tow Truck Operator
$5 per vehicle towed
Tattoo Artist
15 - 20% of the total sales price
Tour Guides
$20 per day
Museum Guides
$1 per person
Furniture/Appliance Delivery
$5 per each large delivery item
Furniture Movers
5% of total bill
1 yak each time they catch you + 1 yak to get to mtn. top
Rickshaw Driver
$2 or more depending on distance
Corporate Jet Pilot
$50 - 200 per pilot

All about tips.....

Tips or "gratuities" are paid to another to show appreciation when a service has been provided. If the service was terrific a higher tip should be given. Wait/Service staff often rely on this at a greatly reduced salaried position. In some states servers are required to claim and pay taxes on a percentage of the sales they generate and they are required to claim as much as 8% on their total sales whether they actually make that or not.

The history of tipping is debated. Sources indicate that between the 16th to 18th Century, the TIP (acronym for to insure promptitude) began in English Coffee Houses. Others say that during the 1800's - after the war, rich Americans who traveled to Europe observed the practice and when they returned to the U.S. they brought it back to establish a sign of class and wealth.

In the event of a holiday party or wedding, the host is obligated to tip the vaious people hired to work or entertain. For example, the caterer, Disc Jockey, service staff and bar staff if an open bar is provided.


Never bite the hand that feeds you.


"The good guest is almost invisible, enjoying him or herself, communing with fellow guests, and, most of all, enjoying the generous hospitality." ~Emily Post

Conversation Etiquette

Conversation is said to be an art. It can be delicate and can make or break job offers, party invitations or destroy personal relationships. If you are in a social situation there are certain things that experts agree, should be avoided. When in mixed company there are topics that are considered to be inappropriate. It is a major faux pas to:

  • discuss politics or religion
  • ask the cost of an object
  • correct others
  • interrupt others
  • changing the subject
  • one upmanship
  • checking your messages/texts
  • don't monopolize the conversation

If another patron or guest is rude - it shifts the focus to you. All eyes will be on you and how you react can be damaging to your reputation. Do not allow the guests to feed on your emotions. Leave the punch in the bowl and do your best to shift the attention elsewhere. Ignore the insult or slight and discuss the problem privately. Obnoxious behavior makes everyone uncomfortable and should be avoided at all costs.

If ever you are uncertain of what to say - it is always acceptable to plead the 5th Amendment. It is better to say nothing than to say crazy stuff that you will never be forgotten for such as, "I can see Russia from my house!"

"You can't be truly rude until you understand good manners." ~Rita Mae Brown


Submit a Comment

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Lee Tea - you just made me realize - I would love a cup of tea right now:) haha I think I will indulge so thank YOU! Also - I want to check your page out - I am a new tea fan!

  • Lee Tea profile image

    Lee Tea 5 years ago from Erie, PA

    Great topic, extensive hub. Voted lots of things (all good, of course). Thanks for writing! Be well - Lee @ Lee's Teas

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hey Myth - thank you so much! I had to take a long while making a list on this one:) lol I had a lot of fun doing it though and hey - you never know it might be helpful to some people:) lol

  • mythicalstorm273 profile image

    mythicalstorm273 6 years ago

    This was absolutely fascinating! I loved your details and yet the variety. Once again you did such a good job covering such a vast subject and keeping it interesting. You are amazing at doing so! Great job!

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hey Stephanie - lol! Thank you so much - ya I couldn't believe that researching etiquette = there would be one for giving the heimlich! On yourself if you are alone! I think they could have worded that much better:)hahahaha So I am here to put it right down in writing - if you are choking to death - screw etiquette! Save yourself! haha Oh thanks - you gave me a great laugh tonight:)

  • Stephanie Henkel profile image

    Stephanie Henkel 6 years ago from USA

    It's really good to know that if "choking to death it is always acceptable to save your own dumb ass." Love the videos, but I know now that I will NEVER send any of my food back to the kitchen!

    This was a hoot! Funny, useful and interesting! Voted up!

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hey Sharyn! I love your slant! Lol. You're the best...and you have tons of charm so I know you didn't really need to read this one:) haha!

  • Sharyn's Slant profile image

    Sharon Smith 6 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

    Kel, Your hubs are ALWAYS informative AND entertaining. I loved this one. Lots of research put in to an article with that RealHousewife twist. This is one of your best Kel!

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Ha! Hey Alastar! I see your avatar and am smiling before I read your comment:) GM! Lol. Yea I have some food pet peeves...I am always squeamish about the dip bowls - especially if little kids are running around. Or in the store when they leave out stuff to try? I once saw a kid standing over the display - it had a spoon and the kid was eating the dip with a spoon and sticking it back in for another dip! LOL. NEVER try the dip at the store either! Hahahaha! Thank you so much:)

  • Alastar Packer profile image

    Alastar Packer 6 years ago from North Carolina

    Wicked funny and spot on Kelly. Yea, it's good, and friends just don't understand why I'm not crazy about eating breakfast at the pancake house. That dude who wrote Waiter Rant said if you under-tip best find another place to eat as the servers have long memories lol. Great job researching and putting this together Kell, thoroughly enjoyed.

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi cabmgmnt - thanks! I tell you - I was headed in the whole proper fork direction - until I found some of these videos! haha! I found there were tons of the proper fork kind and they were a little boring compared to some of the above! haha!

    Conversation etiquette - so important. I know every party I go to, I see someone make one of the big faux pas and think....umm um um...don't go to never never land! Religion - politics, those things are in never never land to me - you just never go there:) lol

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Truckstop Sally!!! Hi there!! So sweet to see you in this place:) lol Thanks so much - I know - I was shocked about all I found. Reminded me of how my grandma used to always say "don't go looking for things you dont' want to find!"

    We are planning to relax and hopefull nobody gets sick! I hope you have a great Spring Break - I bet you will appreciate that long week:) lol

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Melovy! Thank you so much - I had so much fun with this one - it took me a bit to write it because of all the quizes too:) haha!

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Mon Dieu! You can dig a little deeper, eh? LOL

    Lord - I actually gave a couple of the occupations a little bit of a raise:) lol haha! Psssss...when you travel - just go as the one person:) haha!!!!

  • cabmgmnt profile image

    Corey 6 years ago from Northfield, MA

    Love this hub, thanks for imparting your humor. I was eating asparagas with my mother at dinner the other evening and I told her that were dining improperly because we were not using our asparagus fork! Some proper etiquette is too extreme, like the use of an asparagus fork, while other bits like rules for a proper coversation which you discuss should be followed.

  • Truckstop Sally profile image

    Truckstop Sally 6 years ago

    Funny stuff! Truth is stranger than fiction!! Hope you and the girls are planning a fun Spring Break!

  • Melovy profile image

    Yvonne Spence 6 years ago from UK

    This was funny and I will have to come back to it and do more of the quizzes. At least I passed the bathroom quiz. Whew!!

  • Lord De Cross profile image

    Joseph De Cross 6 years ago from New York

    Hahaha! Cest la vie mon ami! I don't have change in my pocket MonSiour! Great article! 20% for my chauffer? That's more than what I give sometimes...! They do not want to know that three of us will amount to 60%. Geez!


  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Oh and Drbj - to answer the question - now I may be wrong but I think there was a limit of 10 for life! I hope...but you never know! I'd be plotting and planning for mistake number 11:-) Haha!

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hey What's up Doc? Hahaha! Thank you! That is the best - I love writing comedy:). It cracks me up just doing the research! Lol. I was thinking crazy and started out trying to do this bit seriously....LOL...! Once I dug a little deeper - I found a ton of buried treasures!

    I'd LOVE to read a hub about that! Please do one - It is fascinating! I'm actually going to do a little serious of etiquette hubs - I am finding it's like Chips - you can't just have one:) lol.

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 6 years ago from south Florida

    This has to be one of your funniest hubs, Kelly. Could not believe the Islamic wife-beating rules - at least the beatings are limited to ten. Is that 10 a day, 10 a week, a month, whatever?

    Etiquette rules always fascinate me as do the body language behaviors that differ so from culture to culture. (Maybe I'll write about that one day.)

    Thanks for all the laughs, m'luv, I just 'played' with all your buttons.

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hey Amy - I did read that too! Slurping is not only acceptable but a good thing! Ewe - I'm so glad not here because that sound (also chewing with the mouth open) drives me insane! I have a friend I will not travel with because she chews with her mouth open! Lol. I've tried nicely to discourage it but she's oblivious to it....I just can't handle that!

    Well I will remind my husband to not discourage the geisha gift - and I'll send him a pocket checkers game he can play with her:))) HAHA! Thanks so much Amy - you always make me smile St. Louis:)

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hey Frog - yeah even if your a frog you can not put a fork in the rear! It's not polite darling:) LMAO!!

    Thanks so much - and I'm still just wondering if anyone - anyone is going to have to ask who I quoted in that last far everyone seems to know! Haha!

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    LOL Ardie! You totally crack me up:). Oh and happy 11th year of mothering btw!!

    I love doing these hubs - they start out all serious and stuff...somehow I take a hard left when researching and bow truth is even funnier than I can make up in my own little head! Haha! Ya - I'm telling you - if I was an Islamic wife - I would do ten stupid assed things real fast - then Id break his legs and not change his diaper! LOL

    I think the singing on the pot is totally exceptanle as long as your are not in a public terlit. I can still very vividly remember the first huge public RR I took Sydney in - it was the movie theater. Shed never seen so many toilets all in a row like that! I got her in a stall and someone else came in? She was so shocked she said in her 3 year old voice SO loud - "who Else is in here?!" then the toilet flush noise "what was that?" haha! It never occurred to me that this was a first for her:) hahahaha! Potty etiquette 100!

  • Amy Becherer profile image

    Amy Becherer 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    This is a fascinating topic, Kelly, and you've done it well in your enviable "facts with humor" style. My ex, head of international sales for a St. Louis company, told me that some Asian countries consider slurping a noisy appreciation of dinner and belching a compliment. He also told me that the Japanese were insulted when, as an American, claims he declined their offer of a Geisha for the evening. I had no idea business travel involved so much compromise. LOL

    Awesome article, Kelly!

  • The Frog Prince profile image

    The Frog Prince 6 years ago from Arlington, TX

    Very well written Hub as usual Kell. There is one problem though. When I went to Charm School I got kicked out for picking my rear end with a salad fork. Was that wrong of me? LMBO.

    Great work...

    The Frog

  • Ardie profile image

    Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

    Hilarious RHW! So what you're saying is I can beat my wife only 10 times a day?? That's insane...what if she screws up the same thing twice...can that be counted as just one beating although I'm doing it twice....because it IS the same infraction right? Some people...

    I can't wait to scroll back up and read the RR rules. I wonder what the guidelines are for singing on the pot?

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hey NYbride - thank you so much:) lol. I just have to bust out and write some funny stuff sometimes - I do try to make it useful somehow with real research - LOL!

  • nybride710 profile image

    Lisa Kroulik 6 years ago from Minnesota

    Lots of useful and funny info here! Thanks for putting this all together.

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Austinstar! Hey - the party isn't in full swing until you park your comment:) lol I had a blast with this one (and I usually do - I crack up when I am sifting through the research)!

    Comment etiquette I have not mastered yet! I am still treading the dangerous waters of that situation myself! Thank you SO much!

  • Austinstar profile image

    Lela 6 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

    As funny as this hub was, the videos were funnier. I laughed until I threw up on Bob.

    But seriously, I think you forgot one important etiquette situation and that one is the etiquette of leaving comments on Hubs!

    BTW, how is it that you get so many comments anyway? Everybody loves your hubs, that's how!

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Vocalcoach! Aw thank you so very much! I decided to check in and I am so glad! lol You just made my evening so much sweeter:)

    I had some fun investigating this topic - I started out in one direction and ended up somewhere all together different! I had a wealth of info to choose from - and I can never miss a chance to have my fun! lol Have a lovely weekend!

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

    Wow - Kelly - This is a marvelous hub about social etiquette. Besides being informative, it's also humorous and I love that.

    Your list of How much to tip is so helpful for me. I'm carrying that info in my purse (along with my small calculator.)

    You really put a lot of research and work into this which is why I'm voting up and pushing every button plus sharing.

    You are an outstanding writer and I am honored to know you. Great article...just great!

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Susan! Thank you so much!

    I think your friend should not make you do such a thing - it is my pet peeve about people that "borrow" items - that means they are expected to be returned without making the lender feel bad by having to ask for it back. I would shoot her an email and say hey - member that dress? lol

    Thanks again - I always admire how you can produce quality every day - I think it's so admirable. You just make it all seem sooooo easy! It is not!

  • Just Ask Susan profile image

    Susan Zutautas 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Brilliant hub!!! I love how you injected your sense of humor into etiquette.

    My friend borrowed a dress of mine four years ago and has yet to return it. I bet she damaged it and is afraid to return it. Do you think I should tell her I want a new dress?

    I loved this hub and hit every button. I'm sharing it too cause you did a fantastic job on this one!

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hey Stacy - ya - again I was pretty shocked when I found that video...I thought surely I am misinterpreting something but I watched the whole clip - they never said, "just kiddin'!" So right - as long as you let her be pretty you can beat the crap out of your wife - he also says that a rod may be used - but not to break bones. Oh - and this is good for her - it shows her honor! yep! Honors the lady...what a guy...they say chivalry is dead huh?

    Thank you so much - I actually had my pick of social etiquette oddities and had to narrow my selections down -there were some difficult choices I had to make! haha!

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi effer! Thank you! Oh I just could not believe I actually found that priceless piece of video. I think I was as shocked as the guy conducting the interview! Yeah - I was thinking the 11th offense might be chop his hands off (a little too late though?) or maybe having an affair with his best friend? That is always an insult! lol

    My mom used to be very particular about our behavior and if we had a misstep we knew we were gonna get it when we got home! Kept me honest until I was at least 10? haha!

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Thanks Ruchira - I actually had a million laughs while writing this one. I started it out as a serious hub - and well - once the crazy video started popping up it went south quick:) lol

  • barbergirl28 profile image

    Stacy Harris 6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

    Damn it... I knew I shouldn't have read this... because now that I understand good manners I can be truly rude! ha ha ;)

    This is great.. I am not really sure which part I appreciate the most... the urinal etiquette or the puking ettiquette. But luckily, if I go out in public, regardless of the situation, I will know how to act.

    You did an awesome job... and you find the most unusual stuff. Like ettiquette for beating your wife... well, I guess it is ok as long as you don't make her ugly! LOL

  • fpherj48 profile image

    Paula 6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Kelly....I'm first responder? Well, OK. This is a great hub! Interesting and funny. I love some of your remarks, Kelly...especially the "etiquette" for beating one's wife...Isn't that special? I happen to think, Kelly....the "limit" might be 10 for beatings, but maybe your 11th offense is "lights-out!!" lol.

    On the serious side...there definitely are acceptable modes of behavior and manners, that have been suggested and created for valid reason. There have been times I sure wish more people would pay attention to those rules!!....Thanks for a good read, Kelly. Peace!

  • Ruchira profile image

    Ruchira 6 years ago from United States

    I am impressed you scored 70% :) I got so mixed up with the international way of dining and even the indian question was messed up by

    The bathroom quiz was off 'cause I thought everyone was in the same boat as

    This is a fun hub and I enjoyed it thoroughly. You sure nailed it in EVERY angle...CHEERS!

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    Hi Ruchira! I do not believe you did poorly:) lol Not for a second! I got a 70% on the cross cultural dining quiz. I guessed on several and just chose the craziest sounding thing! haha! Truth is stranger than fiction, right?

    Thank you so much!

  • Ruchira profile image

    Ruchira 6 years ago from United States

    Wow..Kelly I am impressed. Such an extensive research on the social etiquettes and you have covered it globally. loved taking the bathroom quiz and the cross cultural dining quiz. Needless to say..i did

    voted up and sharing :)


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