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Simple Etiquette: Little Things To Do To Be Polite

Updated on April 16, 2012

Etiquette Lessons - Having Good Manners

I don't consider myself to be an expert on etiquette. I don't know which fork is the correct one to use for salad or the proper way to bow to the Queen. Still, I try to be a decent and polite person, and make a point to treat others with respect.

Sadly, good manners no longer seems to be that important. Too often I've gone to the movies only to have the experienced ruined by people who spoke loudly or spent the afternoon talking on their cell phones. I've been embarrassed by dinner companions who didn't want to leave much of a tip. I've been shoved in the subway and have entered disgusting, messy public restrooms.

In most cases, it doesn't take that much effort to have good manners or good etiquette. In fact, in only takes seconds to say please at a restaurant or thank you when someone holds the door for you. But many have seemed to have forgotten these common courtesies.

Here are some tips on simple things that you can do to have good manners and to be polite. Trust me, being polite will be worth it in the long run.

Etiquette Lessons

How To Have Good Manners

Teaching Good Manners

Good Manners Go Far

Here are some simple things that you can do to have good manners and good etiquette.

1. Always say please and thank you. This is so basic that one would think that I'm wasting my time by even printing this, but I'm amazed by how many people just don't do this anymore. If someone holds a door open for you, thank them. When you order at a restaurant, say please. It takes less than a second to do so -- and it makes all the difference in being polite and being a jerk.

2. Always wipe the toilet seat and always flush. I think we've all been there; we go to use a public restroom and there's well, spray on the seat from the person who used the toilet before you. Even worse, the toilet is left unflushed. Gross! Not only is this unsanitary, it's rude. I don't care if you're in a rush, take two seconds to wipe away your mess. And take another second to flush. Yes, I know that sometimes a public toilet won't work, but I've seen people not flush -- and then the toilet worked just fine when I went in and flushed it afterward. Just do it. And guys, remember to put the seat back down when you're at someone's home or in a space where you're sharing the toilet with women.

3. Give people a chance to exit a subway, train, elevator, etc. As a New Yorker, I often see people just shove onto a subway, pushing past those who are exiting. Don't do that! Stand to the side and let everyone exit the bus or train first. THEN get on. There's no need to push!

4. Don't use your cell phone while at the movies or a show. This includes texting, too. It's so annoying when someone is on the phone and you can either hear them talking or see the light coming from the texting screen. Why go to the movies if you're going to be engaged in a phone conversation? Take it outside. Don't ruin it for the rest of us.

5. For that matter, don't talk loudly and/or constantly during a movie in the theater, or a show. I think we've all been there when we've sat near that person whom we constantly have to "shhh" because he won't shut up. Here's a hint: be quiet! It's okay to laugh at the funny parts, scream at the scary sequences or to make a fleeting comment or two -- but don't analyze the movie or show while you're watching it in a public space. Let the rest of us enjoy it in peace! If you want to chat the whole time, wait for the DVD and watch it at home.

6. When out with friends, don't have lengthy cell phone conversations. It's understandable if you need your phone to check in on the baby or with a friend who's supposed to meet you, but don't engage in a long convo (unless it's an emergency) while you're out with someone else. You're just not being a good friend if you ignore that person. The person whom you're with at the moment should be your priority.

7. Give a decent tip to waiters, cab drivers, bellhops, etc. Many people in service and hospitality industries make their real money on tips. Give them a decent one, especially if he or she did a good job. Don't stiff the waiter or cabby. Show your appreciation.

8. Always RSVP to invitations. Whether you're attending the party or not, let the host know, especially if it's an expensive party like a wedding. There's a reason why the host needs to know the number of guests; this way, he or she can make or order the right amount of food, make sure there are enough chairs, room, etc. Call or e-mail or send a note, but take the time to respond.

9. Never arrive at a party or someone's home empty-handed. If you attend a party or Thanksgiving or a little dinner gathering, bring something. It doesn't have to be expensive; it can be a bouquet of flowers, a box of candy, or a bottle of wine, if you want to splurge a bit. Just bring something to say thank you to the host for the invitation.

10. Always send a formal thank you for a gift. I'm lazy about writing a million actual thank you notes so I usually send a nice e-mail to people who've attended a party I've thrown or have given me a gift. I make it person and let them know how much the gift or their appearance meant to me. Take a few minutes to acknowledge the person's kind actions.

11. Remove crying children from the theater or movies. Kids are unpredictable and sometimes throw temper tantrums for no reason. In some cases, there's little that can be done, like when you're stuck on a plane. But if you're in a movie theater and junior starts making a fuss, take him outside until he calms down. Yes, it sucks that you're missing part of the movie, but it's the polite thing to do.

12. Remember to say, "Excuse me." Instead of shoving past someone, say, "Excuse me" before moving forward. If you need to interrupt someone for some reason, say "Excuse me" before butting in. When you belch or break wind in public, say, "Excuse me." Just those two little words pack a lot of meaning!


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    • English-Central profile image

      Naif Hamed Almutairy 5 years ago from Saudi Arabia

      dear perfumer, my brother Hatim is a left-handed man. still, he adheres to the teachings of Islam regarding the use of right hind for everything of value. i remember, when we were kids, we used to sit next to him at the dinner table holding his left hand so that he would remember to eat by his right hand. luck for him, he now uses both hands skilfully.

    • clairemy profile image

      Claire 5 years ago

      Great hub, good manners are sadly lacking nowadays. I for one really appreciate good manners.And have actually found better mannered and more respectful behaviour in the Middle East than there is in the West now.

    • perfumer profile image

      perfumer 5 years ago from California

      what are the rules for the left handed people english-central?

    • English-Central profile image

      Naif Hamed Almutairy 5 years ago from Saudi Arabia

      for Muslims, i may add a tip that shows Muslims' respect and awareness for their whereabouts. Muslims use the right foot to enter holly or clean places like home or place of worship. on the other hand, Muslims use the left foot to enter the bathroom. to expand this more, we use our right hands to eat, and when we have a shower we start with the right side of our bodies. to sum, commence and start every thing of value form the right- that is if you have the choice, otherwise don't violate common sense.

    • jenjohnson42 profile image

      Jen Womeldorf 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Wonderful Hub. I agree that simple manners are lacking in many people today. Great suggestions.

    • Jlava73 profile image

      Jennifer Vasconcelos 5 years ago from Cyberspace and My Own World

      Good manners sure do get noticed :). Thanks for sharing these points, even though they should be obvious, in todays world ~ they are rare.

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 5 years ago from Pune, India

      Great thought, thank you for sharing them.

    • Billjordan profile image

      Billjordan 5 years ago from Houston

      Good suggestions!!! voted up