In case you haven't noticed, times are a changin'. Ten years ago, people weren't using their phones during lunch meetings or talking over their Uber drivers, mostly because those things didn't exist. That's why it's important to stay on top of the new etiquette rules of today, because everything is changing and nothing stays the same.
This is especially true for our current world, where it seems like everyone is trying to be mean. This isn't true, of course, but there's no denying it often feels like the people need a few reminders of what it means to be polite. This is true for all things political, for our lives online, and even for simpler things, like having lunch with friends.
"Staying on top of proper etiquette is especially important in today’s digital age where information travels at the speed of light," Annette Y. Harris, founder of ShowUp, tells Bustle. "Tweeting, liking, [or] blogging ... the wrong thing can lead to severe personal and professional ramifications." As can saying the wrong thing in front of the wrong person, who just might be holding up their camera.
Not to say that's the only reason to be polite. We should all be kind, whether someone's watching or not. But it is important to keep in mind how connected we all are, how our words can spread like wildfire, as well as why — now, more than ever — it's important to be polite. Read on for some new etiquette rules we should all be following.
1. Resist The Urge To Make (Potentially Hurtful) Jokes Online
I love jokes just as much as anybody. But if yours is walking the line of good taste, it may be best to keep it to yourself. As Kelly Williams Brown, etiquette expert and author of GRACIOUS: A Practical Primer On Charm, Tact And Unsinkable Strength says, "Be careful what you tell the internet, because it has a huge mouth and a long memory." She tells me jokes (even the more benign ones) can easily be taken out of context or misconstrued, and that's definitely not what you want.
2. Don't Share Your Personal Info On Social Media
If you're dealing with some heavy issues, you should certainly talk about it. Just don't do it online. "You don't need everyone in the world chiming in real-time on something that is totally overwhelming to begin with," Brown says. And you also don't need anyone holding private info against you. If you need to talk, share your thoughts and concerns with friends, family, or a therapist instead.
3. Be Kind To Your House Guests
This piece of advice may be older than time, but it bears repeating: be a gracious host whenever someone's in your home. "Whether this is a dear old friend or ... a very new and temporary one, people in your home deserve to be treated with respect and kindness," Brown says. Whether this means cooking dinner, or simply offering to make coffee, they'll feel totally impressed — and welcomed. So don't forget to make the effort.
4. Treat People The Way They'd Like To Be Treated
These days, people act like everyone's become so touchy and easily offended. But that's simply not true. If someone has a line they don't want crossed, it's important to respect that. "I don't think of it as political correctness, I think of it as politeness," Brown says. "If someone tells you that a certain word hurts their feelings, you don't have to ask why it hurts them, or tell them it shouldn't, you can just not use that word." Simple as that.
5. Always Be Ready For Your Uber Pickup
Ride sharing didn't exist a few years ago, at least not in the way it does now. So let's get on board with some etiquette, shall we? The first and best way to be a great guest in someone else's car is to be on time. "Drivers do everything they can to pick you up in as little time as possible," Laura Jones, head of product marketing at Uber, tells Bustle. "Please try to return the favor by being ready to hop into your Uber when it arrives." If you think you're going to be late, or are still getting ready inside, send the driver a quick note with the in-app messaging feature.
6. Be Super Polite During Your Ride
Another ride sharing tip? Always be courteous during your ride. This may sound obvious, but even little things — like talking loudly on your phone, or eating a snack — can annoy your driver or other passengers. "Be sure to keep conversation between those people in the car," Jones says. "Your fellow riders don’t need to hear your phone conversations, so avoid taking or making calls while fellow POOL riders are present."
7. Keep Your Audience In Mind When Emailing
There are all sorts of texting and emailing rules, and it can be tricky to keep up. But the general rule is to keep your audience in mind when sending messages. "For example, text message shorthand and chat abbreviations may work for millennials, but not so much for the Boomers," says Harris. "Boomers often still prefer email, phone calls or ... face-to-face communication." If you're talking to a fellow millennial, however, go ahead and text and be more casual — especially if you work in a more creative field. No one will mind.
8. Avoid Using Your Phone During A Yoga Class
While you might keep your phone nearby when lifting weights or running on the treadmill, it's not polite to text or take calls during something more serene, like a yoga class. As yoga guru Edward Vilga tells me, even the simple act of reaching for your phone and texting silently during class can be distracting. So, unless you're dealing with a time-sensitive issue, it's best to keep it on silent and put it away.
9. Think Twice Before Posting Party Pics
I know, when you're having an incredible time on a Friday night, or whilst on vacation, it's often tempting to share every pic online. But do try to resist. "A glass of wine or beer is OK in some photos, but you riding a bull getting a little too crazy from your vacation does not need to be on your page," says Brett Graff, author of Not Buying It. "This is an extremely important tip for millennials." The last thing you want is some boss seeing that bull.
10. Put Your Phone Away During Lunch
When you're out to lunch, or hanging with a friend, make a point of putting your phone away. (Yes, even if you're with a close friend who insists she "doesn't mind.") As Graff says, "You will find that when you disconnect in these settings you actually end up having better conversations and will engage much more with the person you are with." That's totally worth it, right?
11. Keep Your Politics To Yourself
This one's up to you, because I'm all about sharing thoughts online. And there are definitely times when we all gotta speak up. But, as far as proper etiquette goes, sometimes things are better left unsaid. "Make sure to not post inappropriate material and stay away from harsh political views," Graff says. "Political views on social media are OK when you feel passionate about something, but make sure that you are posting something that is not always insulting others and pushing your beliefs on others."
If you can follow these rules, I promise you'll be the most polite person around. And, while not always easy, it is 100 percent worth the effort if it means making our current world a slightly nicer place to be.
Images: Pexels (11); Unsplash, Bonnie Kittle