I’m no Emily Post. You know who that is, right? Miss Manners? Wait. Let me start over. Do you know what etiquette is?
I’m thinking that a lot of people don’t. I don’t know if it’s a generational thing or cultural thing. Were people not raised right? I don’t know but it’s time to set things straight. Let’s make some changes for 2011. My changes. Let’s call them my suggested rules of etiquette.
1. Upon entering or exiting a store, please hold the door for someone if they are within 10 feet of the door.
What’s with people? Do you know how many times I have had a door slammed in my face when I was right behind someone? I don’t know how people do that. It’s habit for me to look over my shoulder and hold it open.
2. If someone has their hands full, help them.
This can mean pressing the elevator button or getting the door for them. Just do it. It’s nice.
3. When driving, if someone allows you to merge or enter traffic, especially with a wave, you should give a wave in return.
A wave from a driver is usually universally accepted to mean “Go ahead” to which a wave back means “Gee, thanks.” If you have darkly tinted windows or a long vehicle, you may even want to put your window down and give a little wave out the window.
4. If someone you know looks nice or does something impressive, tell them so.
Too often, people are afraid to give compliments. I don’t understand why. A few words can go a long way. However, if you compliment how someone looks and you don’t know them, they might feel a little weirded out.
5. Tip service workers 15-20%. Even if they’re not that great.
I like good service as much as the next Joe but everybody has an off day. Or maybe their grandmother died and they were told they still had to come to work. You never know what’s going on with someone and your small gesture can make a big difference. Unless they’re downright rude. Then just forget it.
6. Don’t say anything to anyone electronically that you wouldn’t be comfortable saying to their face.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave on this Internet thing. It’s easy to hide behind emails, tweets, anonymous comments. But at the end of the day, there are people sitting behind those computers and words can hurt.
7. Remember the lost art of handwriting.
Handwritten notes, cards, letters, and even envelopes have become a novelty. But it still means something when you write, actually write, a personal note to someone.
8. Watch your children at restaurants.
Whatever behavior you may allow at home probably doesn’t make sense in a restaurant. It’s never too early to teach proper restaurant manners. It’s really not that cute when your kid stands up in a booth, turns around, and stares at me the entire time. Also, try to keep the ensuing food disaster to less than an F-9. Nobody likes Cheerios all over the floor.
9. If you have a screaming child, it might be time to leave the store.
Sometimes you may be trying to prove a point. Sometimes it’s out of necessity. But sometimes it makes the other shoppers absolutely insane. Also, remember that children in stores often get tired/hungry/thirsty/bored. While you may enjoy trying on every pair of shoes in the store, it’s not terribly thrilling to your child.
10. Disagree with grace. Don’t make thinly veiled insults.
Thinly veiled insults may make us feel better because we can say what we want to say without really saying it so we can’t really be held accountable, right? Wrong. Most people know when you are talking about them so you’re not fooling anyone. It’s really just better to be graceful.
11. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
It’s the golden rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Always. And if you think you’re already do a good job, look at your spouse, your kids, your co-workers. How do they treat you? Maybe it’s not them. Maybe it’s you. Or maybe it is them. It happens.
12. Teach your children, please.
It’s hard to remember that those babes come out of the womb knowing nothing. I mean, nothing. Everything is learned either by teaching or observation. Set a good example. Say please and thank you. Be pleasant and polite. Tell them how to behave in certain places. Then watch them and help them with social cues when they don’t understand. They’ll never learn if you don’t teach them.
13. Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’.
I just had to throw that in there. It’s one of my favorite lines from the movie “The Shawshank Redemption.” It’s not etiquette. It’s a credo. Life is short so make it count.
That’s all I got. Just those 13 things. Simple rules but wouldn’t the world be a better place if we followed them?