Daily Etiquette

Welcome to the first post in my series on etiquette! (My introductory post can be found here.) I will say this a million and one times, but etiquette serves to make the most number of people comfortable and when you are familiar with etiquette, it can often serve to alleviate some social anxiety (which is the reason why many people avoid situations). As Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning say, etiquette is about compassion, respect, and empathy. Today’s post is all about daily etiquette and things that come up in normal, every day lives- greetings, punctuality, wardrobe, and eating. I find that these daily items tend to revolve around respect for you and respect for others!

Daily Etiquette

1) Greeting People 

Every interaction begins with a greeting, and that greeting sends a message. I think it is generally easier for all of us when we are meeting with people that we already know and we don’t have to think about the greeting, but most of us do interact with people we don’t know throughout the day. Work, school, the store, the library, public transportation, and any other number of places will be filled with people you don’t know. Positivity goes a long way with a greeting (and I think we all tend to remember when someone goes out of their way to be pleasant). Sometimes you will need to actually greet someone, and sometimes a brief smile and nod is more than appropriate. If you make a point to pay attention to how you are greeting people, it will be easier to recognise when to do what!

When greeting someone, make brief eye contact, say a pleasant hello, and introduce yourself if you haven’t met them (or you haven’t seen them in quite some time). If you have met them, greet them with by their name warmly. It sets the tone for the entire interaction, and is an easy way to set yourself up for success! 


2) Punctuality 

Above all else, being late is my pet peeve. I completely understand if your bus is running late, if there is traffic, or bad weather (as we just got our own bad storm earlier in the week), but being habitually late is incredibly frustrating for everyone around you. I have said it a million times and I will say it a million more, being late repeatedly tells me that you don’t think my time is as valuable as yours. I know that people struggle with mornings, don’t realise where the time went, underestimate the time needed to get ready, and any other number of time-related issues; however, there is no reason to not work on those. Realistically, unless you are a hermit, you will need to make plans with people on a semi-regular basis, even if that plan is work and/or casual plans with family and friends. If you are regularly late, look at why that is and how it looks to other people.

Aim to be 5 minutes early to on time; any earlier and you may catch the person you are meeting before they are ready! Any more than 5 minutes left, and you are sending the message that your time is more important than their’s. 


3) Wardrobe and Grooming

Everyone wants their style and appearance to say something different about them, even if it is simply that they don’t care about it (which is another discussion for a different day). I think that we all understand how we should be dressed for our daily/regular tasks and appointments, but when something new comes up, sometimes we struggle- this is where dress codes can help. Yes, they can be overwhelming at first, but spending a little bit of time understanding what they all mean (my post on dress codes is a very basic intro), and feeling comfortable asking the host to clarify will go a long way to ensuring that you are dressed properly. (I think that for the majority of us, being highly overdressed or underdressed leaves us feeling out of place and uncomfortable.) However, despite differing styles, dress codes, and wardrobes, I think that there are a few constants that we can all stick to when we are getting dressed for the day.

You should always be clean and free from wrinkles and rumples, no matter what you are wearing or what you are doing! A clean and pressed outfit shows that you take care in your appearance, but more importantly in general, that you can pay that care and attention. Also ensure that you have done your due diligence on what the dress code is for an event/outing and that you have done your best to try and meet it! And finally, make sure that you check the weather before you get dressed to avoid mishaps. 

Kate Middleton dressed in a military inspired blazerVia Pinterest

4) Table Manners 

I think that table manners are one of the most nerve-wracking and overwhelming areas of etiquette, because most of us don’t encounter complex table settings in a formal situation on a regular basis. I think a lot of us grab the one or two utensils that is needed to eat whatever meal we have, and might even end up eating it on the couch in front of the TV. (No judgement, sometimes it is a nice way to relax!) I know that it really can seem overwhelming but a good deal of table manners really boils down to common sense when you think about. If you absolutely can’t swallow whatever food you are eating, it should come out the way it came in- ie. you put it in your mouth on a fork, take it out of your mouth with a fork. And take solace in the fact that your table mates will probably be as lost as you are!

Work in order: as soon as you sit down, place your napkin in your lap! And the basic rule of thumb is to start from the outside and work your way in. (See table map below!) And if you are unsure of where things are and what belongs to you, don’t feel embarrassed to ask the person beside you if the water glass is yours or theirs. (Heads up- if it’s on your right, it’s your glass.) 

Etiquette Place Setting Map

Via Pinterest


What etiquette issue seems to come up the most for you? 

Until tomorrow,
The Historian

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41 thoughts on “Daily Etiquette

  1. April Munday March 11, 2018 / 6:45 am

    You’re absolutely right, being late is a huge insult.

    I’m interested in the teaspoon in the place settings. I’ve never seen a teaspoon as part of a place setting unless it replaces the soup spoon in an informal setting. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in a formal setting.


    • anhistorianabouttown March 13, 2018 / 7:26 pm

      I have seen a teaspoon used in a formal place setting at a few specific hotels, usually when the teacup/saucer is already on the table prior to eating. This is something I’m going to look into more, I’m intrigued by this now!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • April Munday March 14, 2018 / 2:50 am

        I ‘m fairly sure that I’ve never seen cups and saucers on the table when people are eating except at breakfast and tea. Even if it’s a family meal, the cups and saucers don’t come out until everyone’s finished eating. When they do come out, the teaspoon is in the saucer. It is interesting, isn’t it?


        • anhistorianabouttown March 17, 2018 / 6:36 am

          I think that is going by the wayside in North America for efficiency, which I think is a real shame! If you are already bringing around coffee and tea, is it that hard to bring the cups, saucers, and spoons??

          Liked by 1 person

          • April Munday March 17, 2018 / 7:03 am

            There’s nothing like making your guests or customers feel unwelcome by telling them that you can’t be bothered to serve them properly.


          • anhistorianabouttown March 18, 2018 / 8:48 am

            Exactly! People need to think through the messages that their actions (or lack of actions) send!

            Liked by 1 person

  2. johnrieber March 11, 2018 / 11:27 am

    This is great – filled with useful information that I don’t think anyone in the US learns any more! These are rules that everyone should know, so we continue to strive toward a more civilized society!


    • anhistorianabouttown March 13, 2018 / 7:27 pm

      I know, I wish that these basic guidelines were still taught and shared regularly!! Taking a few moments for calm and order doesn’t hurt anyone 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. J | thenellybean March 11, 2018 / 11:42 am

    I completely agree with the punctuality thing, I just hate being late and can’t see why people think it’s okay to wander in late and interrupt things with no apology whatsoever! Great idea for a series xx


    • anhistorianabouttown March 13, 2018 / 7:28 pm

      I will give someone a minute or two, traffic/having to run back in/quick call happens to all of us. When it is a habit, though, it’s just disrespectful!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. lifeinkarolingston March 11, 2018 / 11:53 am

    I enjoy reading this post! I am definitely etiquette fun and follow it most of the time! 😊


  5. lifebythepages March 12, 2018 / 10:21 pm

    I really enjoyed this post. Lateness is one of pet peeves too. I have however relaxed this slightly since having children and appreciate a txt beforehand or an apology.


  6. lady sarah in london March 13, 2018 / 10:26 am

    Ian particularly interested in table manners – in our multicultural society they are a bit of a minefield. I would love to know the etiquette for chop sticks, in Chinese, Japanese or other Asian cultures. Also Indians for example eat with their hands, are there any rules as to the ‘best’ way if doing this?


    • anhistorianabouttown March 13, 2018 / 7:09 pm

      That is definitely my weak spot in etiquette- I’m only familiar with Western etiquette, but I’m fascinated with etiquette around the world! I’m thinking of writing in to Lizzie and Dan (on the Awesome Etiquette podcast) and asking if they can recommend books/sources on etiquette in other cultures!


  7. You Can Always Start Now March 14, 2018 / 5:48 am

    Great advice. Total agree with punctuality – we have a culture at work of not being on time and I hate it and yes feel it is totally disrespectful.


    • anhistorianabouttown March 14, 2018 / 5:52 am

      It is the same for my sorority- “just so busy, running late!”. Well, I’m also very busy and I’m always on time…. You having poor time management shouldn’t affect me!


  8. cookandenjoyrecipes March 14, 2018 / 8:46 am

    Thanks for this awesome post. As for many, I have the same pet peeve on lateness and to etiquette goes a long way and can not be stressed enough.


  9. arv! March 14, 2018 / 8:53 am

    These are basic etiquettes that we all should abide by. I will rate greeting others and punctuality very high among all others because they are universal. Great write-up!


    • anhistorianabouttown March 17, 2018 / 6:34 am

      Thank you!! Because they both start every interaction by being there and starting the conversation, I think they are the most important!

      Liked by 1 person

      • arv! March 17, 2018 / 9:04 am

        Well said! How should I address you? I don’t know your name.


          • arv! March 18, 2018 / 3:22 pm

            Great. I’ll remember that…. historian!! 😃


  10. New Life Fresh You March 14, 2018 / 1:50 pm

    I am probably the most punctual person on earth and if I can do it, I expect the same thing from others. I consider it disrespectful and rude 🙂


  11. Losing the Plot March 14, 2018 / 2:24 pm

    What excellent advice, I am trying to teach my boys some manners, my word it’s an uphill struggle lol


  12. Karalee March 14, 2018 / 2:56 pm

    This is great information! When I had my daughter, we were always late because I was used to only getting myself ready, but I’ve learned now that I need to set aside extra time so we can both get ready & still make it on time to wherever we need to go!


    • anhistorianabouttown March 17, 2018 / 6:31 am

      Not the same at all, but now that I’ve got my dog, I have to set aside 10 minutes before I leave to take her outside and get her settled in her bed – as long as you know you need extra time, it’s no problem!!


  13. thelanguageofl March 16, 2018 / 3:48 pm

    Hey! I loved this – especially how you explain that etiquette is about making others feel comfortable. I just wonder if you mixed around this sentence? “being late repeatedly tells me that you don’t think your time is as valuable as mine.” – but they think their time is more valuable!
    Anyways, great piece 😊


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