The great social norm and good manners thread

I have had this idea that it would be really cool to put together a class that would teach people, basically, how to behave in the outside world. I’m not talking about things like which fork to use at dinner or those finer points, just the basics. You know, how close to stand when talking to folks, the proper use of scents, that sort of thing.

So, this thread can be part pet peeve and part brainstorming. What social skills do you think a human should have to not get on people’s nerves and to succeeded as a social animal?

Everyone should be forced to listen to a recording of themselves talking “social” talk, business-ese and laughing.

I think it would cut the annoying mannerisms and braying laughs right out.

Dude, are you trying to put me out of a job?

Seriously, a large segment of my etiquette seminars is devoted to human interaction aside from fine dining.

things I cover (a sample for those of you in the booking business!)

  1. holding doors
  2. polite conversation
  3. dressing for the occasion/ grooming/ perfume use
    4)shaking hands
    5)making introductions
  4. cell phone etiquette
  5. netiquette

You get the idea. I do seminars for high school and college aged groups, for the most part…though I’m chomping at the bit to break into the lucrative world of corporate thuggery.

I’d be happy to chime in if anyone has any questions, but those are my suggestions so far.

Not at all, not at all. I am actually glad to hear that someone is out there doing this. Sounds like exactly the type of thing that I am talking about. My inspiration, really, comes from the fact that I spend an astonishingly large part of my day irritated at the graceless behavior of others. My feeling is that society in general is trending to more and more density and urbanization and that it would be nice if there were classes out there that thought people how to have a lesser negative impact on those around them.

It needs a snazzy name, though. For me I want to get away from the word etiquette and into something a little more modern sounding. Being Human 101? I don’t know

Since many, if not most, social graces are culture-dependent, I would say the one skill a human should have would be adaptability and social awareness. Being able to take cues on how to behave from others in the environment will help anyone “fit in”, which seems to be what the OP is talking about.

How about a segment on when you’re not required to make polite small talk?

Like while waiting for traffic signals. Or in the elevator with strangers. Or while waiting for the subway. Waiting in line for orders.

“How Not To Be A Complete Jackass In Public 101” has a nice ring to it.

If we can impress upon people such things as why cutoff shorts, halter tops, sunglasses, flip flops and various other fashion dont’s are not a good idea to wear to a job interview, when applying for a mortgage loan, for your court appearance, etc. we will have done a good job. Does anybody else see this a lot or am I just an unlucky sod who has managed to move to hell?

Or in a public restroom. :dubious:

You just can’t keep the TMI out of threads, can you? :wink:

I think you should also cover some aspects of driving. If people aren’t going to follow traffic laws, they can at least be polite about it!

Great suggestions all. Perhaps what we should do is to break this down into sections (a section for each thing that a person might be expected to do in a day). Something like"
[li]Preparing to face the world. Things that you should know before you leave your home to face the public. This would be where you cover basic hygiene issues, as well as what parts of your body it is typical to cover, and what message you are sending if you don’t.[/li][li]Getting to where you are going. Basic tips of either public transportation use, or driving.[/li][/ul]
And so forth.

How about that children should not address adults by thier first name, unless first given permission to do so.

“I am Mr. Magill, not Mr. Maus.”

Course title: Things Your Parents Should Have Taught You 101.

Footpath etiquette:
Stay on one side of the footpath when heading in one direction - like driving a car. We were taught this in school in NZ to make getting between classes quicker (everyone moves in the same direction on the left), and the majority of people do it on the street as well.
Pull to one side if you meet someone you know
Goes double for people with strollers

Daily showering and deodorant are not optional if you are feeling like it.
You need to use shampoo to clean your hair - running water only usually doesn’t do the job.

Trying to have a conversation with someone else when they are clearly focused on something - reading, watching TV etc, is a huge annoyance.

When getting onto a plane - don’t stop in the aisle for minutes at a time while digging out your book/entertainment etc and placing bags overhead, it holds up the whole plane especially if everyone does it. On shorter flghts handbags and coats can successfully fit under the seat in front of you.

Along these lines, move yourself and your shopping cart to one side of the aisle so people can get past you.

I don’t know whether this falls under hygeine or manners, but one of my cow-orkers clips his fingernails. At the lunch tables. While people are eating. Shockingly, he’s not the only one to do this, but he’s the most consistent.

Also, you never get to complete a sentence with this guy, or have a conversation that doesn’t include him. So some education about interrupting would be nice, because I’ve noticed people talking over each other more and more.

Just because I’m talking doesn’t mean I’m not listening to you.

Seriously, this is probably one of the hugest cultural differences I come across…length of pause that constitues an uncomfortable silence. In my family, especially my mother’s extended family (Lawng Island) this length is nearly nothing.

I’ve had to school myself to maintain pauses that feel extremely awkward to me just so other people don’t feel they can’t get a word in edgewise. The two people I know from Louisiana require the longest pauses I can imagine.

There’s no right answer to this one, just something for people to be aware of, that it may not be that someone is slow and dull (pause required longer than yours) or a self-involved interrupter (pause required shorter than yours), they may just come from a slightly different background.

Unless expressly prohibited by your religion, please remove your headgear while indoors.

Likewise, dark glasses should be removed when speaking to others, whether indoors or outdoors. You appear shifty and untrustworthy when others cannot see your eyes when you speak.

Please do not answer your cell phone at the dinner table, meeting table or generally at any gathering of other folk; if you must, then excuse yourself, and move off out of earshot as swiftly and unobtrusively as possible.

Please use your turn signals. You did pay for them, after all. Especially use them when you are stopped in the left turn lane at a red light–don’t wait for the light to change to green to start indicating your left turn.

Please refrain from hawking and spitting in public.

Please do not inflict your choice of music on anyone else; second-hand music is like second-hand smoke: unwelcome and intrusive.

Please refrain from dressing your pre-pubescent daughter like a whore. There will be plenty of time for her to make her own fashion errors when she gets older.

Enough with the cheap scent, already, Mrs retired businesswoman. I know that your generation tended to use more perfume than is now the norm, but you must know that nearly all doctor’s offices and other professional premises now request clients to refrain from such practices.

Thank you for your consideration.

Elevator etiquette:

For those waiting for the elevator, when it arrives, don’t stand directly in front of the doors, and wait for those getting off the elevator to disembark instead of shoving past them to board.

Once you’re on the elevator, don’t stand right in front of the button panel.

Also, don’t look at the capacity sign and then eyeball the fatties.

Beyond that: There ought to be a guide to American regional etiquette for business and other travelers. When to show up for dinner in Boise, what gifts to bring in Cleveland, what not to wear to Little Rock, popular local phrases and customs, etc.

One possible drawback is that realizing how different we all are might start a cultural civil war. But I’m willing to risk it. :smiley:

Someone explain this one to me. I likes me my caps and beanies.

How is this good manners? It sounds like it’s treating children like crap. How about respecting all people, regardless of age?

OP chiming in. Just a little request from me to you: My idea was a thread wherein we talk about cultural norms that are often broken, but that if we all followed life would be less irritating. I am sure that there are other venues where the actual relative worth of a given norm can be hashed out.