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The Unwritten Rules of Courtesy

10 May 2022
Learn more about the unwritten rules of courtesy and social graces that can help make any situation easier.

Have you ever been in a situation where you're not sure what to do or say? You're not alone. Courtesy is something that isn't always taught, but it's important to know the unwritten rules. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most common courtesy tips. We'll also provide examples of how to properly use these tips in various situations. So, whether you're a first-time guest or an experienced host, read on for some helpful advice on how to be courteous!

1 - RSVP to invitations

It's common courtesy to RSVP to invitations, whether they're for a party, wedding, or other event. If you're unsure of what "RSVP" stands for, it's simply "répondez s'il vous plaît," or "please reply." When you receive an invitation, be sure to let the host know whether or not you'll be able to attend. This will help them plan accordingly.

2 - Stand up when someone enters the room

When someone enters a room, it's courteous to stand up. This is especially true if the person is of higher rank or authority, such as a boss or elder. However, standing up can also be seen as a sign of respect for anyone who walks into a room.

3 - Offer your seat to someone who needs it

If you're on public transportation or in a waiting area, and you see someone who looks like they need a seat more than you do (e.g., they're pregnant, elderly, injured), offer them yours. This act of kindness will be appreciated, and it could make someone's day a little brighter.

4 - Hold the door open for someone

When you're entering or exiting a building, it's courteous to hold the door open for someone behind you. This is especially true if the person is carrying something heavy or has their hands full. However, you don't necessarily have to wait for someone to walk through the door before you can go through yourself. Just be sure to give them enough time to get through first.

5 - Give up your seat on public transportation

Similar to offering your seat to someone in a waiting area, it's also courteous to give up your seat on public transportation (e.g., bus, train, plane) if you see someone who needs it more than you do. Again, this act of kindness could make someone's day a little better.

6 - Say "please" and "thank you"

Using simple words like "please" and "thank you" can make a big difference in the way you're perceived by others. These words show that you're polite and appreciative, and they can go a long way in making someone feel valued.

7 - Let people know if you can't hear them

If you're in a situation where it's difficult to hear someone (e.g., noisy restaurant, crowded room), let them know. You might say something like, "I'm sorry, I can't hear you. Would you mind repeating that?" By doing this, you're showing that you value the person's words and you want to make sure you understand them.

8 - Give people your full attention

When you're talking to someone, it's important to give them your full attention. This means making eye contact, not interrupted, and not looking at your phone or other distractions. Showing that you're truly engaged in the conversation will make the other person feel valued and respected.

9 - Avoid using offensive language

It's important to be mindful of the language you use, as certain words can be offensive to certain groups of people. For example, avoid using racial slurs or profanity. If you're unsure whether a word is offensive, err on the side of caution and refrain from using it.

10 - Be on time

Punctuality is a important part of courtesy. When you're meeting someone, aim to arrive on time or even a few minutes early. This shows that you respect the other person's time and you value their company. Of course, there will be times when being late is unavoidable. If this happens, be sure to apologize as soon as possible.

11 - Don't interrupt people when they're talking

Interrupting someone while they're talking is considered rude. It shows that you don't value what the person has to say and that you think your words are more important. If you need to say something, wait until the other person is finished speaking before you chime in.

12 - Avoid talking over people

Similar to interrupting, talking over someone can also be seen as rude. This is especially true if you're talking at a volume that's louder than the other person. If you need to talk, make sure you're doing so at an appropriate volume so as not to drown out the other person's voice.

13 - Turn off your phone

When you're in a meeting, on a date, or spending time with friends or family, it's courteous to turn off your phone. This shows that you're fully present and that you're not distracted by anything else. Of course, there will be times when you need to keep your phone on (e.g., if you're waiting for an important call). If this is the case, let the other person know so they're aware of the situation.

14 - Ask before taking someone's picture

If you want to take a picture of someone, it's courteous to ask for their permission first. This way, they're not caught off guard and they can prepare themselves accordingly. Asking also shows that you respect the other person's privacy.

15 - Avoid talking about sensitive topics

There are certain topics of conversation that can be seen as offensive or insensitive (e.g., politics, religion, money). If you're not sure whether a topic is appropriate, err on the side of caution and avoid discussing it. This will help to prevent any potential conflict or hurt feelings.

16 - Don't invade people's personal space

It's important to respect people's personal space and not stand too close to them. This can make the other person feel uncomfortable, so it's best to give them some room. Of course, there will be times when you need to be close to someone (e.g., if you're shaking their hand). In these cases, just be sure to not stand too close or touch them for longer than necessary.

17 - Respect people's belongings

When you're around other people, it's important to respect their belongings. This means not handling their things without permission and not taking anything that doesn't belong to you. Showing courtesy in this way will help to build trust and avoid any potential conflict.

18 - Don't stare at people

Staring at someone can make them feel uncomfortable and self-conscious. If you need to look at someone for an extended period of time (e.g., if you're talking to them), be sure to do so in a respectful way. Avoid staring at any other body parts besides their eyes.

19 - Don't make assumptions about people

It's important to not make assumptions about other people. This includes things like their gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation. Making assumptions can lead to misunderstanding and conflict, so it's best to avoid doing it altogether.

20 - Be aware of your body language

Your body language can say a lot about you, so it's important to be aware of it. For example, crossing your arms or avoiding eye contact can come across as rude or uninterested. Instead, try to keep an open posture and make sure you're making eye contact when appropriate.

21 - Be conscious of your tone

Your tone of voice can also convey a lot of information. For example, speaking in a monotone voice can make you seem bored or uninterested. On the other hand, speaking too loudly can come across as aggressive. It's important to be aware of your tone and adjust it accordingly.

22 - Don't interrupt people

Interrupting someone mid-sentence is generally considered rude. It shows that you don't value what the person has to say and that you think your words are more important. If you need to say something, wait until the other person is finished speaking before you chime in.

23 - Avoid talking over people

Similar to interrupting, talking over someone can also be seen as rude. It's important to let the other person finish speaking before you start talking. This shows that you're listening to them and that you value their opinion.

24 - Don't use offensive language

Using offensive language (e.g., swear words, derogatory terms) is generally considered rude and should be avoided. If you need to use such language for emphasis, try to do so in a respectful way. For example, you could say "That was really messed up" instead of "That was fucking messed up."

25 - Be aware of your volume

It's important to be aware of how loudly you're speaking. Talking too loudly can disturb others and come across as rude. On the other hand, talking too quietly can make it difficult for people to hear you. Try to find a balance and speak at a volume that's comfortable for everyone involved.

26 - Don't use your phone in inappropriate situations

Using your phone in inappropriate situations (e.g., during a meeting, while someone is talking to you) can be seen as rude. It shows that you're not interested in what the other person has to say and that you'd rather be doing something else. If you need to use your phone, step away from the situation and do so in a respectful manner.

27 - Don't overstay your welcome

It's important to not overstay your welcome when you're around other people. This means not staying longer than you're invited or welcome and not outstaying your welcome in general. Leaving when it's time to go shows that you respect the other person's time and space.

28 - Don't be a know-it-all

Trying to act like you know everything can come across as arrogant and rude. It's important to be humble and acknowledge when you don't know something. This shows that you're open to learning new things and that you're not afraid to admit when you're wrong.

29 - Don't be a gossip

Gossiping about others is generally considered rude. It's important to avoid spreading rumors or speaking negatively about someone behind their back. This shows that you respect the other person and their privacy.

30 - Be careful with your words

Your words can have a lot of power, so it's important to be careful with them. This means avoiding saying things that could be hurtful or offensive. It's also important to think before you speak and to choose your words wisely. This shows that you're respectful and considerate of others.

31 - Don't make assumptions

Making assumptions about someone can be rude and often lead to misunderstandings. It's important to avoid making assumptions and instead ask questions to get clarification. This shows that you're interested in understanding the other person and that you value their opinion.

32 - Don't criticize people

Criticizing people is generally considered rude. It's important to avoid speaking negatively about someone or putting them down. This shows that you respect the other person and their opinions. If you need to give constructive criticism, do so in a respectful way.

33 - Be careful with jokes

Jokes can be a great way to lighten the mood, but they can also be offensive if not done correctly. It's important to be aware of the other person's sense of humor and to avoid making jokes that could be hurtful. This shows that you're considerate of the other person's feelings.

34 - Don't interrupt people

Interrupting someone can be seen as rude and disrespectful. It's important to let the other person finish speaking before you start talking. This shows that you're listening to them and that you value their opinion.

35 - Listen more than you speak

It's important to listen more than you speak. This means not talking over others and actively listening when someone is talking to you. Listening more than you speak shows that you're interested in hearing what the other person has to say and that you value their opinion.

36 - Don't be late

Being late can be seen as rude and disrespectful. It's important to arrive on time or early to show that you value the other person's time. If you're running late, it's important to call and let the other person know. This shows that you're considerate of their time and that you value their schedule.

37 - Follow through on your promises

If you make a promise, it's important to follow through on it. This shows that you're reliable and trustworthy. It also shows that you respect the other person and their time.

38 - Be grateful for what you have

It's important to be grateful for what you have. This means not taking things for granted and appreciating what you have. Being grateful shows that you're humble and thankful for what you have. It also shows that you respect the other person and their belongings.

39 - Don't be a hypocrite

Hypocrisy is generally seen as rude and disrespectful. It's important to avoid contradicting yourself or saying one thing but doing another. This shows that you're honest and transparent. It also shows that you respect the other person's point of view.

40 - Be yourself

It's important to be yourself. This means being genuine and authentic in your interactions with others. Being yourself shows that you're comfortable in your own skin and that you're confident in who you are. It also shows that you respect the other person and their opinion.

41 - Don't compare yourself to others

Comparing yourself to others is generally seen as rude. It's important to avoid speaking negatively about yourself or putting yourself down. This shows that you're confident in who you are and that you respect the other person's opinion.

42 - Don't be a know-it-all

It's important to avoid acting like you know everything. This means being open to learning new things and admitting when you don't know something. Acting like a know-it-all shows that you're arrogant and that you don't respect the other person's opinion.

43 - Be humble

It's important to be humble. This means not boastful or self-centered in your interactions with others. Being humble shows that you're confident in who you are and that you respect the other person.

44 - Don't gossip

Gossiping is generally seen as rude and disrespectful. It's important to avoid speaking negatively about others or spreading rumors. This shows that you respect the other person's privacy and that you're considerate of their feelings.

45 - Keep your word

It's important to keep your word. This means being honest and trustworthy in your interactions with others. Keeping your word shows that you're reliable and dependable. It also shows that you respect the other person and their time.

46 - Be positive

It's important to be positive in your interactions with others. This means avoiding negativity and complaining. Being positive shows that you're optimistic and that you respect the other person's time.

47 - Don't be pushy

It's important to avoid being pushy. This means not trying to force your opinion on others or making them feel uncomfortable. Being pushy shows that you're disrespectful and that you don't value the other person's opinion.

48 - Be patient

It's important to be patient in your interactions with others. This means not rushing or pushing them. Being patient shows that you're considerate of their time and that you respect their pace.

49 - Don't interrupt

It's important to avoid interrupting others when they're speaking. This shows that you're respectful and that you value their opinion.

50 - Listen

It's important to listen to others when they're speaking. This means being attentive and giving them your full attention. Listening shows that you're interested in what they have to say and that you respect them.

Courtesy
Dilara Şimşek Yılmaz
Dilara Şimşek Yılmaz
Blogger

Graduating from Kadir Has University with a degree in Graphic Design, she has worked for brands such as marketing, corporate communications and retail for over a decade. Taking up training in blog/content writing three years ago turned out to be a hobby that soon became his profession.

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