My daughter and I were talking the other night about how fast-paced our modern society is. Due to the instantaneous nature of texts, emails, and social media, it often feels as though we need to accomplish everything RIGHT NOW.
In our perpetual hurry, it’s easy to let social etiquette fall by the wayside. But I’m not talking about the sort of etiquette my grandma felt strongly about, with rules like “no elbows on the dinner table.” I’m talking about a modern sort of etiquette, one that involves slowing down, prioritizing relationships, and being a good neighbor. I would argue that we need this kind of etiquette now more than ever!
With as many tragedies as we see in the news today, it can seem like the world is full of hatred, evil, and misery. But rather than focusing on negativity, we should remember the eloquent words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
I think we all need to take it upon ourselves to put more light and love into the world, in whatever ways we can. The “modern etiquette rules” I’m sharing today are simple things you can do every day to make the people in your life — whether they’re family, friends, or members of your community — feel seen, respected, and loved.
By spreading your light and love around whenever you can, you’re helping to create a better, safer world for all of us.
11 Etiquette Tips For The Modern World
1. Put Down Your Phone
Plan an evening with friends or family where everyone puts their cell phone into a basket upon arriving. Talk to each other and enjoy each other’s company! (If you want to put a competitive spin on it, eat out with a group and have everyone put their phones in the center of the table. The first person uses their phone has to pick up the check!)
2. Write A Card
Writing things by hand is becoming increasingly rare as technology progresses, and that makes it all the more meaningful. If you’re giving someone a card for their birthday or a wedding, make sure to include a handwritten sentiment inside the card. (Or better yet, make your own greeting cards!)
You could also carry around a few blank cards so that you can jot down a quick message of gratitude for people who help you or brighten your day. You could use them to thank clients, bosses, coworkers, teachers, or the employees at your favorite stores and cafes.
3. Be On Time
Punctuality can be a real struggle for some people, but it’s worth the effort. Being on time on the job shows professionalism and competence, and in your personal life, it shows consideration for others and an eagerness to connect. If you’re the type who’s always running 5 minutes late, try leaving 10 minutes earlier than you normally would!
4. Hang Up At The Register
Swinging by the grocery store on your way home from work may be a convenient time to return that missed call from earlier, but you shouldn’t be talking on the phone when you’re at the register. Whether you’re at a grocery store, coffee shop, or anywhere else, the person behind the cash register deserves your attention and respect.
5. Avoid “Dropping In”
There was a time when a surprise visit from a friend may have been a welcome interlude to your day. Today, however, we not only have a lot going on, but we’re all reachable by call or text. Rather than assuming someone has time to visit with you if you show up unannounced, send a text to confirm whether they’re available before heading over.
6. Don’t Stoop To Someone Else’s Level
When someone is rude to you, it can be tempting to match their rudeness and give them a “taste of their own medicine.” But doing something wrong just because someone else did it first doesn’t make it right. Instead of stooping to their level, remind yourself of what you believe is right and stick to it.
7. Take Care Of The Sick
If you hear about someone in your family or neighborhood struggling with their health, see if you can find the time to drop off a simple get-well gift. Social support not only reduces stress, but it has been shown to actually improve our physical health.
8. Welcome Newcomers
Welcome newcomers in your neighborhood with a thoughtful gift that speaks to what you know or like about your neighborhood. I think a treat from a local business, a map of the area with your favorite spots highlighted, or a stack of menus from your favorite take-out places would all make great welcome gifts!
9. Sit Down To Chat
If you’re calling someone to catch up, take the time to sit down and focus on the conversation. I know it can be tempting to squeeze those calls into your commute or while you’re doing chores, but even the most skilled multitaskers are likely to be less engaged in a conversation if they’re doing something else at the same time.
10. Send A Postcard
Send postcards to friends or family when you travel. They may not be the only way to keep in touch when you’re away from home anymore, but they’re still a fun and affordable way to let someone know you’re thinking about them, and they make a great keepsake.
11. Keep A Guest Book
If you host guests frequently in your house, get a notebook to serve as a guest book and leave it in your guest room (or wherever your guests typically stay). You’ll get a book full of fun memories of your guests, and your guests will feel good about the fact that you want to remember their stay!
What tips or rules would you add to this list?