20 Etiquette Rules You’ve Totally Broken

By Tanya Arora

Etiquettes: redundant in this day and age? Or cultural remnants that should be brought back with gusto? In the present times, it’s almost too cool to give manners a pass and ‘be who you are.’ ‘Please’, ‘thank you’, and ‘sorry’ are fast dying out because, you know, “friendship mein no sorry, no thank you” – aaand the death knell for what else qualifies as ‘good manners’ has already been rung. And yet, if you sneeze in front of someone without covering your mouth, you’d quickly be judged rude.

Old-fashioned, redundant, and downright silly as they may seem, etiquettes exist for a reason. And that reason has been aptly explained by the famous novelist, Mr. Haruki Murakami:

“A gentleman is someone who does not what he wants to, but what he should do.”

In the light of these words, here are 20 etiquette rules you should try to incorporate.

1. Clap Correctly

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Did you know that clapping in front of your face is rude? You should ideally clap with your hands at level with your chest, slightly tipped towards the left. That’s the right way.

2. Climb Into The Car Right

Not legs in first and head later. That’s all wrong. You’re supposed to sit on the car seat first and then pull your legs in. Not only will this prevent that head bump but those accidental flashes (oops!).

3. Don’t Use Butter Straight From The Dish

Apparently, the polite way to use butter is to get a blob of it out on your plate and then spread that on the slice of bread. Well, it’s a great way to prevent getting bread crummies in the butter dish!

4. Never Point Your Finger

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This has always been considered rude! When you need to point at something, use your whole hand instead of just a single finger.

5. Use Your Left Hand To Cough

Your right hand is your ‘social hand.’ So, if you cough into it, you basically rob it of all of its social powers such as shaking hands, waving goodbye, etc. If you want to carry out any of your nasty, unmentionable tasks, always use your left hand.

6. Don’t Return A Dish Empty

If someone has lent you their precious Tupperware or their favorite box, do not return it empty. Instead, fill it with all sorts of sweet meats and goodies. It’s another way to say ‘thank you.’

7. Don’t Drink While Someone Is Raising A Toast To You

Don’t drink if you’re the one who’s being toasted. Return the toast like the charming personality you are and then drink with everyone else. Acknowledging is always good manners.

8. Pass The Salt And The Pepper

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Salt and pepper go hand in hand. Remove even one of them and it’s equal to robbing life of all of its flavors. So, if someone asks you for salt, do them a favor by passing the pepper too.

9. Make Eye Contact During A Toast

This is as bad as not raising a thank you toast after being toasted. When raising a toast, maintain eye contact with the person you are raising the toast to.

10. Wear Your Bag On Your Left Shoulder

Again, the right one is your social hand. So nope. Will not do. No handbags there. Use your leftie to carry your drink, purse, and everything else.

11. Don’t Congratulate The Bride

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While congratulating the groom is encouraged, doing the same where the bride is concerned is a big no-no. It’s almost equivalent to implying that the bride didn’t have enough suitors and had to settle, so steer clear of this one!

12. Sit In The Correct Posture

Sitting as you’re comfortable is right medically-speaking, but wrong etiquette-ly-speaking. You should always sit with your legs together, neither crossed nor spread.

13. Pay For Dinner Entirely

Going Dutch may be the new way to show your manners, but if you have invited someone for dinner, you should pay for it entirely. That’s the polite thing to do.

14. Address Someone As Miss Or Mister

If you’re meeting someone for the first time, calling them by their first name is just plain manner-less. Address them with a Miss or Mister along with their surname instead.

15. Excuse Yourself To Go To The Washroom

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Announcing that you’re going to the bathroom is obnoxious. Saying a simple “excuse me” will suffice.

16. Be On Time

Being late once in a blue moon is excusable, but on a regular basis, it shows your lack of manners. Hence, always be on time.

17. Never Eavesdrop

Would you like it if your hubby heard what you actually think of his mother? No, right? We rest our case.

18. Introduce Everyone

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It’s common to forget the name of an acquaintance in a social gathering. But instead of skipping the introduction, you should make an effort to find out their name, and then introduce them.


Someone is waiting for your response. Putting them on hold is very rude even if you’re not sure if you can make it to the event. You should let them know about your situation rather than make them wait.

20. Never Take A To-Go Box Home After A Business Dinner

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Sure, wasting food is bad but taking the leftovers from a business dinner is even worse. Make your choice wisely.

Incorporating each of these habits can make you a better person. But if you feel overwhelmed by them, take it slow and go one at a time. Self-improvement is a constant process.

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