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Good Manners For Adults

By Edited Feb 10, 2016 5 14

Gone are the days when tucked in shirts, polite nods, friendly personal interactions with strangers, and simple gestures of kindness ruled the day.  Or are they?  While our behavior towards one another as a society is declining, it is not too late to reverse the trend.

Fewer people are learning how to properly conduct themselves with real, live people in real, live interactions.  Therefore you must teach yourself.  For a more in-depth look at manners and etiquette, read Miss Manners!

There is an etiquette for just about everything we do.  Interview etiquette, dating etiquette, cell phone/mobile device etiquette, golf etiquette, and list goes on; here, I focus on some general actions you can apply to many etiquette areas everyday. 

Below is a list of 10 simple behaviors and habits, if put into practice, will separate you from the pack.  People close to you and strangers will take notice of you and seek to emulate you.  Follow these actions below and become a role model.    

Good Manners For Adults: Etiquette Tips

10. Gentlemen, take your hats off.  

A gentleman removes his hat when he goes indoors, especially when entering another’s home or a restaurant.   

A gentleman removes his hat during the national anthem, i.e., at a sporting event.

Hats Off

9. Hold the door open.  

Applicable to both genders, but especially applicable to men, hold the door open for anyone coming in behind you (even if you have to wait a minute or risk being mistaken for the doorman).  

Guys, chivalry is not dead.  Surprise your wife or girlfriend and open her car door too.  

Holding the Door Open

8. Be aware of how and where you’re chewing gum. 

If you’re going to chew gum, do it with your mouth closed.  Others will benefit from your minty fresh breath, they will not benefit from hearing you chew.  

Discard gum in a trash can, not underneath where you are sitting or on the sidewalk for somebody else to step in.  

7. Say “please” and “thank you.” 

This is just a common courtesy, and it is easy to do, unfortunately it is also easy to overlook.  Never assume that your “please” and “thank you” is implied.  

Sometimes people we interact with come off as rude or nasty, nevertheless, say “please” and “thank you” to them because who knows why they are or seem to be in a foul mood.  Your random act of kindness could be the thing to change their mood and brighten their day.

6. Proper dress for the proper occasion.

This is very important and often overlooked.  A common adage that has served me well at work: dress for the position you want, not the position you have.   

There are some restaurants where neither jeans nor sneakers are appropriate.  As a rule of thumb, if you need to make reservations then don't wear jeans or sneakers.

And it is never acceptable to walk anywhere in public looking like you just rolled out of bed.  This is very common in the modern university.  Take a little pride in your appearance; it will boost your confidence and increase your drive.

5. Make eye contact when conversing

Nothing is worse than talking to someone, and they aren’t looking at you.  Why am I wasting my time, this person obviously doesn’t care what I am saying.  Not making eye contact is rude.  

Now, you don’t want to be a creep either, so it is okay to look away here and there.  But let the person you are listening to, know that you are interested in what he or she has to say.  Eye contact provides that reassurance.

4. Leave Cellphones off the dinner table

Don’t put them on a table at the restaurant.  Don’t answer them at the restaurant, instead turn them on vibrate or silent.   

And please don’t text, email, or play a game while having a conversation with someone.   

On a date, nothing conveys “get me outta here!” faster than someone using their cellphone.

3. Posture - shoulders back & head up 

Walk with your head up and shoulders back; sit don’t slouch.  Nothing conveys confidence like good posture.  Others want to associate with confident people, and others want to recommend confident people for jobs and other opportunities.

Good Posture(69667)

2. Watch what you say!

First, the language that is acceptable in public conversations these days is appalling.  So, clean it up, you don’t need cuss words to convey your point.  In fact, if you’re prone to using cuss words, it is usually because you don’t have a point; you use cuss words to “shock” and distract your listeners.   

Second, don’t be the person bad-mouthing someone when they aren’t around because when you're not around, you will be the one talked about, and not in a good way.  Besides, negative put-downs and bad-mouthing inject negativity into the conversation, and into your listeners’ mood.  People don’t walk away from those conversations feeling better about anything.

1. Smile!

 Smiles are disarming, inviting, and just plain easier on your facial muscles and more pleasant for someone to look at. 



Nov 5, 2011 1:21pm
Love this article. One addition I would put, is the last part. Smiles do break barriers, although over smiling is actually a negative and threatening gesture. I mean when people show every single one of their teeth in a over large showy smile.
I can't abide bad manners and make sure they are grained into my children.
Nov 5, 2011 6:44pm
Thank you for your wonderful comment! And I think "smiling" etiquette could be a whole separate article!
Nov 6, 2011 10:18am
Great article! I love the order you put the stuff, but I agree with Ddraig, some smiles (salesman shark smile for example) are scary instead of welcoming :D
Nov 6, 2011 8:50pm
Thank you for your comment! Now I am seriously considering an article on types of smiles or something along those lines!
Nov 7, 2011 4:22pm
Five star article. I believe with all the technology used by younger people they have a hard time with real life interactions. I notice it everyday. Make eye contact with me, unless it's an emergency, that person on the phone can wait 20 minutes and on a date using a phone tells me I'm not interesting enough for you so we might as well end it and move on. I feel that way with friends. We'll be hanging out and the phone is rings or text and I decided a few years ago, when hanging with friends who feel the person on the phone is more interesting or important, please lets hang out when you have the time. Technology is a wonderful thing but there are times I wish we all could go back in time. Social in your face interaction is missed sometimes.
Nov 7, 2011 8:47pm
Thank you for the very kind words. And I agree with you. Time with friends should be spent enjoying your time together, uninterrupted by texts, FB updates, and phone calls.
Nov 8, 2011 3:00pm
Wonderful article Kris! Good manners seem to be a lost art and it's too bad that some people trivialize them.
Nov 8, 2011 4:03pm
Thank you for your comment. And I agree with you - they are a lost art.
Dec 2, 2011 11:18am
Civility seems to be gone. Great article. Yes, good manners and civility are still worth the effort. I wish more people would take the time to be nice and polite to one another. Sadly, being mean to one another is a trend and made acceptable (by some reality TV and their judges appalling treatment of guests). This is my personal reason for never watching these shows.We can thank American Idol and Dancing with the Stars for terrible lessons in bad manners!
Dec 3, 2011 3:13pm
Thank you for your comment. TV programs these days are terrible, gone are the Cosby days.
Apr 27, 2013 4:38am
so so right. There is no respect in this world anymore and I think the adults need to teach their kids good manners and how to respect others and at the same time earn respect for themselves.
May 5, 2013 3:59pm
Drug abuse is discrediting not only the youth but also adults with bad manners.
May 5, 2013 4:00pm
Drug abuse is discrediting not only the youth but also adults with bad manners.
May 5, 2013 2:18pm
Very interesting article on courtesy and good manners that are being eroded in the society.Some men talk to the audience with their eyes focused on the ceiling as though searching for inspiration.The audience loose interest in what they say and start dozing.a smile is best and always inviting.A gloomy face repels.
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