Modern Etiquette

030815_ModernEtiquetteEveryone is complaining about bad customer service, rudeness, rage and disregard appears to be growing faster than the money markets did back in the 80’s. If you want to differentiate yourself from the crowd, then utilize the ever-diminishing art of good manners. It costs nothing and you’ll be outstanding from the crowd and feel grrrrreat for it! Making others feel comfortable and respected also has a positive impact on the way they view you and your business as well as how you feel about yourself.

In the modern world it’s not about gender or social status – it’s about respect for the people and world around you in all you do. Treating women, men, the physically challenged and all age groups and their station in life with equal respect and courtesy is the underlying principle of the golden rule, good manners, etiquette, common courtesy, fair play, civility, social rules, consideration or whatever label you put on it.

So why has common decency slipped so much? As George Carlin might have said – we have more technology, but less time; more ways to communicate, but less communication; and we definitely have more people, work, traffic, cell phones and cyber clutter, which results in overcrowding, time pressures and numerous rages.

So what can each of us do to combat this slack approach to life? Simple – follow the golden rule with some generally accepted guidelines.

Here’s an example:  Keeping in mind the size and ability of different body types, it makes common etiquette sense to have the most able-bodied person hold open a heavy door for others who may be weaker, older or disabled.  It’s easy, kind and some might even say a “random act of kindness”.

Here are a few other pointers to jog your memory or spark a different viewpoint on the subject.

Common Courtesy

  • When in doubt do the kind and gracious thing with a smile and happy voice tone.
  • Treat everyone with respect and courtesy, regardless of their position, age or gender.
  • Use “thank you” with sincerity and often.  And let’s not forget “you’re welcome”.
  • Send a hand written thank you note after any function you’ve been invited to – at the very least an email.
  • Pass on the right side of the street, aisle or walkway.
  • Hold a door open when someone is following behind you.
  • Let people off elevators or public transportation before entering.
  • Whoever does the inviting for lunch or dinner picks up the cheque if not going Dutch or amicable arrangements weren’t previously made.
  • Remember people’s names and use them.
  • Respect other people’s time with punctuality and brevity.
  • Apologize when you make a mistake, are wrong or have hurt someone. It’s good for everyone, including you.
  • Avoid profanity – make a friend of your Thesaurus instead.
  • Don’t dominate conversations, other people like to talk too.
  • Leave the exasperating cell phone off and don’t text during meetings, luncheons, theatre outings, or anyplace others would be disturbed by ringing and you doing one worse – answering the blasted thing! Emergencies, and I do mean life-threatening emergencies, are different – simply apologize to the people around you – ahead of time if possible, and do what you have to.


  • Listen with your eyes and whole body involvement – be present – it’s the best gift you can give anyone.
  • Allow the person speaking to speak till they’re finished – without interrupting.
  • Allow a pause before you respond and whenever possible paraphrase what you’ve heard for clarity – this powerful skill goes a long way toward diffusing conflict and building solid relationships.


  • Never mis-use authority with subordinates or manipulate loved-ones by directing or cajoling them to do personal chores or favours.
  • Whenever possible acknowledge others and the good they do.
  • Maintain integrity in all that you do.
  • Don’t discuss unfavourale behaviour, personal circumstances or negative remarks about co-workers, club members, friends or family to others.
  • Keep your word – always.
  • Don’t exaggerate or re-create facts and events.
  • It bears repeating – Avoid ALL gossip!!!!!

          “If it’s not truthful, and not helpful – don’t say it.
If it’s truthful and helpful – w
ait for the right time.”  – Buddha


  • Use your best voicemail skills – smile, articulate, be clear and to the point with your message, repeating your name and phone number twice.
  • Make good eye contact when making a firm handshake – avoiding the pump handle at the well or limp dish rag approaches to the hand shake. 
  • Smile and stand whenever possible while on the phone for effective vocal impressions. 
  • At meetings – clearly state the objective, expected time frame and expected issues to discuss. Never go over the time, unless everyone agrees.  Always thank members for their time and participation. 
  • Always apologize if you have to interrupt a conversation, meeting or someone’s concentration while performing a task. 
  • Never text under the board room table during a meeting requiring your attention. This one is sooooo not good – or for your career either.

 Cyber Etiquette – or Netiquette

  • Be brief, but not curt, especially in responding to emails. 
  • Return all email and voicemail messages within 24 hours.
  • No email forwards unless permission is given. 
  • Obey the Golden Rule here too – think before you hit send. 
  • USING ALL CAPS IS SHOUTING – best not to. 
  • Avoid gossip and personal information. 
  • Pay attention to and obey all copyright laws. 
  • Do not post links to any blogs, web pages, magazines, etc. that are selling or marketing to pages without permission.
  • View forums as you would a real office and write accordingly. 
  • As you wouldn’t hijack a conversation in real life – don’t do it in forums either.

Going the Extra Mile

  • Let somebody ahead of you – on the road, in the checkout line or movie theatre – even once a week.
  • Be kind to someone when they treat you nastily.
  • Just apologize with no excuses when you transgress.
  • Pick up the cheque when you do the inviting.
  • Send a thank you note when you’ve been treated to something – and hand written, snail mailed always shows class.
  • Never hurt, in thought word or deed, anything smaller than you.
  • Think first, act second.

Faux pas happen and we all make mistakes, but being generally considerate, attentive to the concerns of others and adhering to the basic guidelines of etiquette, we can minimize and recover quickly from our blunders.

Good Etiquette is Always “In Style”

– Sharon Danley