14 Etiquette Tips for a Polite and Prosperous 2014

Praveeni Perera

Happy 2014! A new year brings with it many things : resolutions, plans, goals and most of all a fresh start.  2014 will bring new challenges, new life lessons and new friendships.  With all the pressures of our time conscious technologically driven world it’s easy to forget the pleasantries as deadlines, bottom lines, and workplace stress cause manners to fall by the way side. However, a bad day should never determine your manners and the way you treat others.

Here are 14 etiquette tips for a polite and prosperous 2014:

1. Power down and opt for real face time

Make a genuine effort to refrain from using your phone or computer when interacting with someone face to face. Avoid the temptation and keep your phone off the table at lunch, dinner or other social gatherings. You don’t want to risk phubbing someone. Updating your Facebook status, answering emails or tweeting is not more important than your real life relationships.

2. Say Thank You and Note it

Remember to say thank you when someone invites you to lunch or dinner or simply goes out of their way for you. A digital thank you is nice but a handwritten note goes much further and is a more personal way of showing your appreciation. This also shows the other person that you took the time to purchase, write, and mail them a note.

3. Respect personal space

Different people have their own comfort level when it comes to personal space and how close they will stand to another person. When chatting with others be mindful of their personal space and don’t stand too close. Ideally personal space in North America can vary from one and a half to two feet, however this distance is set by the person who starts talking first.

4. Say Hello not Hi

When you meet someone for the first time say Hello instead of Hi. Always aim to make a great first impression. Hello is more formal and respectful for a first time meeting.

5. Give others the right of way

Everyone’s in a rush today and it’s easy to get lost in the pushing and shoving but try and give others the right of way. Typically parents with small children and the elderly are given the right of way when entering a building, plane, train or bus. Remember to be mindful of these rules on public transit and opt to give up your seat for expectant mothers, parents with children and seniors.

6. Acknowledge your emails

Emails are a quick and easy form of communication and we do get many of them a day but how many do you reply? It’s important to acknowledge receipt of emails so the senders know you have indeed received what they wanted to pass on. This does not mean writing  a full response it just means sending a reply of “Thanks” or “Received” You should however endeavor to  fully reply emails within 24 hours of receipt.  If this is not possible tell the sender when they can expect a full reply from you.

7. Make introductions

When you are out at social gatherings and someone you know approaches your group of friends, introduce them as soon as you can. Making someone wait to be introduced can make them feel uneasy, shy or even unwanted. Always try to include everyone in your conversations and make the newcomer feel at ease and included.

8. Leave a personal voicemail message

Voicemail is a great feature as it allows callers to leave you a vocal message as opposed to simply texting you.  Most voicemail services come with a standard message telling the caller they have reached your number but leaving your own personalized message is always a nice touch as callers hear a real person and not just a machine. Leave a personal message stating your name so callers know they have reached the correct person and let them know you will get back to them. This way callers will also be able to put a voice to your name and you will be more relatable.

9. Take down tardiness

No one likes waiting around for the late comers so make an effort to arrive on time or 5 mins early for meetings, dinners, lunches and other social appointments. The last thing you want is to keep your boss, guests, friends or clients waiting so plan ahead and make the appropriate travel arrangements to be on time. If you are running late call and inform your party before the pre-determined meeting time and let them know when they can expect you.

10. Exercise caution when using social media

Social media is great for marketing and advertising services or your business but be careful with your post content. Never post anything on social media that you wouldn’t want the whole world to see.  Don’t use social media to vent, post negative comments, or run a smear campaign it may come back to haunt you later. Avoid posting photos of others without their consent and be careful with the photos you do post, always be conservative in the content you share. Keep it professional and keep it classy.

11. Primp at the sink not the dinner table

Applying lipstick or fixing your hair or tie at the dinner table is not an acceptable thing to do. Any form of primping including using a toothpick should be done in the washroom. Primping at the table can make others feel uneasy so if you must primp simply excuse yourself and head to the restroom.

12. Don’t gesture with cutlery

Good conversation takes place over  a great meal but remember to set your fork and knife down when you are talking. You don’t want to risk flinging your food or cutlery at someone. Avoid gesturing with cutlery, if you need something ask for it and point to it using your hand not your utensils.

13. Don’t go empty handed

It’s always nice to be invited to someone’s house for a meal or get together but don’t walk in empty handed. Always endeavor to bring a hostess gift. Whether it be wine or chocolates it’s a nice way of saying you appreciate being invited. If you really want to make an impression send a gift ahead of time and have it delivered the day of the event; this way it will arrive before you do. Flowers are a great choice for a hostess gift.

14. Respect the dress code

Be mindful of the dress codeat work, restaurants and professional and social gatherings. It’s ok to be a little over dressed but you never want to be under dressed. Always err on the side of caution. It’s better to be conservative and polished than flashy and trashy!


Praveeni Perera is the CEO and co-founder of Professional Edge Consulting a corporate training company based in Ottawa offering training and coaching services to clients around the world.  She can be reached via WebsiteTwitterFacebook or her Blog.

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