Etiquette-ful Habits for 2021

New Year List

The year 2020 has left us feeling the need for re-compassing, for setting off on a new beginning.  Etiquette offers a theory on how to make something better, how to achieve human social betterment by combining a person’s natural curiosity with learned forms of kindness.

Creating etiquette-ful habits means starting with a positive attitude, using curiosity to find the gain from every experience, and aiming to recover from setbacks.  All the while, it means remaining true to yourself while placing concern for others first.

Strengthening Your Etiquette-ful Habits

The first step in strengthening any habit is identifying it and putting it into practice.  What etiquette-ful habits do you want to grow stronger in 2021?  A survey of friends and family revealed these answers:
. . . be more curious about others and show that curiosity openly . . . encourage others to speak first . . . compliment people on a daily basis . . . look at a person when saying “thank you” . . . write thank-you notes for gifts or favors . . . apologize quickly and mean it . . . notice when you gossip, name it and then stop it . . . really listen . . . stop making excuses . . . greet yourself every morning and say “I love you” . . . forgive and forgive again . . . be direct and say what you mean . . . encourage others even when they are blocking the doorway with their shopping cart . . . bottom line, ask yourself, “Was what I just did/said respectful?”  

Emily Post captures well the principles of etiquette:  Consideration, respect, honesty.  These qualities ground the various cultural and traditional “good manners” around the world.  They do not change over time.

“What we practice grows stronger.”

~ Shauna Shapiro, PhD

Some habits to put into practice for each of these principles might be:

  • Look around you.  
  • Is there a need for thoughtful action?  
  • Is there something immediately helpful that you could offer to do?  
  • Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  Anything to be said or done?


  • Every day consciously recognize and acknowledge that everyone has worth and value as a human being.  
  • Remain open-minded that others will have different ideas and views and that however wrong they may seem, the person himself should not be demeaned.  
  • Show up recognizably respectful by being on time, giving full attention to the other person, and respecting what a situation calls for, including appropriate attire.
  • Valuing yourself by avoiding self-recrimination and discouraging language.


  • Acting sincerely and truthfully in all situations, while purposefully aiming not to embarrass another person.
  • Being true to your values and being your authentic self as you discover more about yourself and others.
  • Remember that no one is perfect and we are bound to make mistakes.  Don't shy away from apology.  

Regardless of the many roles you will play in 2021, etiquette-ful habits will help you create an atmosphere of good will.  You can greet others, make everyone feel welcome, and be observant when it comes to others’ needs.  

Philosopher and economist, Adam Smith, said that “Kindness is the parent of kindness.”  Kindnesses extended are returned in some way, and we all share in being reciprocators of human kindness as we acknowledge gratitude for so many wonderful things.  This is just one of the gifts of etiquette-ful habits.

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