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How do I Learn Proper Etiquette?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Proper etiquette can be learned in many different ways. Observing other people is one way to learn helpful etiquette tips. There are also professional etiquette seminars that teach everything from excellent table manners to proper business behavior. Etiquette books and DVDs are other good sources for learning proper etiquette in many different types of social situations.

Table manners are important to learn, for both dating and business dining etiquette. People often form an impression of others based on how polite and well mannered they are. For example, chewing food with an open mouth is not likely to impress clients at a business lunch. Observing people whose manners you admire, and who others seem to respect, is a good way of learning proper etiquette.

Etiquette coaching is a service that may be provided by business or personal life coaches. Life coaches help others improve their social skills in order to communicate and function better in their lives. An etiquette coach can provide help in areas of your life in which you may be lacking good social skills, such as dating.

Proper dating etiquette is crucial, as inappropriate behavior may cause people to break dates without getting to know a person. Little, yet very polite, things such as opening a door for the other person or giving a sincere compliment go a long way when dating. When dating someone new, both people can lack confidence; it may be difficult for someone on a date to know what the other person is feeling or thinking. Giving a compliment about how your date looks is polite and will let the person know that you at least like something about him or her. Books on dating and relationships often include proper etiquette as well as romance tips.

The rules of online etiquette can be learned by communicating in web forums. Most of these forums have published rules about behavior when communicating with others online. Profanity or insults are usually not permitted. Proper etiquette online means not using all capital letters, as it's considered the same as yelling in regular conversation.

Many people learn etiquette from their parents or other relatives. For example, children are often taught at an early age to say "please" and "thank you." When they get older, children usually learn proper table manners from parents or relatives, such as to place a napkin in their lap before eating. For people who don't learn proper etiquette at an early age, a combination of observation and learning from books and other instructional materials can help them develop good manners.

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Discussion Comments

By umbra21 — On Jun 02, 2014

@croydon - Etiquette matters a lot when it comes to a first impression as well. Even if you can intellectually understand that someone might just be ignorant, you would still feel emotionally disturbed by someone ignoring, say, proper conversation etiquette.

Like if they got very close to you while you spoke, or wouldn't look you in the eye. That's considered polite in some situations and countries, but I have to admit it would annoy me.

By croydon — On Jun 01, 2014

@pleonasm - It really does depend on the situation though. If you need to know the proper business etiquette for a business meeting with people from another culture, there's no point in waiting until you meet with them to ask them what to do. You need to learn the rules beforehand to show them how much you value their business.

You might also completely offend someone by accident if you don't know the right etiquette. For some cultures, blowing your nose is the worst possible thing you can do and it's considered much more polite to sniff when your nose runs.

People in other cultures would be very offended if you offer them something with your left hand rather than your right, because that's the hand they use in the toilet.

Just like you wouldn't want to have to explain to someone that they have to wash their hands, they aren't going to want to explain everything to you.

By pleonasm — On May 31, 2014

Unless you're in an extremely snobbish setting, I don't think there's anything wrong with asking the people around you what the proper etiquette is for the situation. If you're in a restaurant with unfamiliar food, for example, the waiter will be happy to let you know whether you should be using your fingers, or what.

Or ask the people around you if you are in a club or something and aren't sure what to do. If you are polite and humble, they will be happy to help you find your feet.

In fact, this can be a good way to help you get to know the people in a new place. Asking for help is a really good way to make friends.

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