There are certain rules of politeness that we tend to follow jointly as a society. We call this in-built sense of politeness "etiquette". Of course, rules of etiquette can vary based on culture, age, and other factors. But there are some common rules that have been around for a while. They can make perfect sense or serve absolutely no purpose at all.
Though some may be decidedly outdated, other old-fashioned principles of behavior may very well need to make a comeback. Keeping in mind that the goal is to create a dignified yet welcoming air with these social requirements, here are 5 old rules of etiquette that need to come back and 5 old rules of etiquette we can do without.
If you’ve been invited to an event or someone’s home for any occasion, don’t walk in with empty hands. An invitation extended is an act of kindness and deserves to be received with one in return. Whether it is a bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers, be sure to get your host a thank-you gift for the invite.
When you’re out with friends, co-workers, or anyone at all, you may end up meeting someone new to you but common to your associates. When the time comes for you to be introduced, or introduce yourself, make sure to stand up and greet the newcomer personally with your name and a smile. This shows an eagerness to engage and gives a welcoming spirit.
This doesn’t seem like much but there’s a lot that goes into napkin etiquette. For starters, it’s good to know that your napkin is usually the one to your left. As soon as you are seated at the table, place the napkin on your lap for the duration of the meal. If need to get up from the table during the meal, don’t place the napkin on the table, place it on your seat.
On the subject of dining etiquette in general, utensils are another thing at the table that has its pre-designated places. If you’re talking to a friend at the table, put your utensils down before you start to speak. In case you get animated while talking, you might lose track of the fork and bits of food being waved around in your hands.
One of the biggest faux pas that anyone can commit is pointing at anything with a finger (usually the index pas). It is especially rude to point at a person, as it can be deemed as negative or accusatory. Use an open-handed or two-fingered gesture to refer to something in the vicinity.
It has long since been understood that the respectful and formal way to call someone older than you or in a higher position than you is using the prefixes Sir/Ma’am or Mr./Ms. While this may still exist in certain formal situations, many people prefer to be called by their first name or moniker. Accordingly, the respectful thing to do would be to refer to them by their preferred term or name.
This is probably one of the most frequent phrases ever said by a parent to a child, whether or not there was a meal on the table. While this rule is very much still applicable when a plate is on the table, during conversations it’s more flexible. In fact, placing your elbows on the table allows you to lean in, showing an interest in what is being said.
Prior social rules dictated that if you came home and found someone had left a message for you, you returned their call immediately. With mobile phones, the option still exists when you see a missed call on your phone. However, it is considered socially acceptable to just send the person a text message. Keep in mind, texting has its own rules of etiquette.
Whether you’re at a meeting or a social event, the procedure for meeting someone new usually involves a common person introducing you formally by your name and designation. This is no longer considered the norm, and people are generally encouraged to introduce themselves in the name and manner they prefer.
During a party when the guest of honor stands to make a toast, it is just assumed that everyone involved is drinking alcohol. This is because of the long-standing superstitious rule that people who aren’t drinking alcohol should make a toast. The current rules of etiquette, however, say there’s no reason at all for people drinking any non-alcoholic beverages or to refrain from raising their glasses.
Make sure to share these so people can be mindful of these new manners