Important Social Decorum
Rules to Know

Friends Celebrating

Social decorum is the knowable and often unwritten rulebook setting down appropriate social behavior and propriety—it’s all about etiquette and good manners.  Behavior that is calm, steady, courteous, and kind is the language of self-command.

My Rules of Social Decorum

We comply with formal and informal rules and procedures as we get along with others and build personal and professional relationships.  One way to look at the whole process is to think of yourself as building social capital.

What rules help you navigate social situations and foster positive relationships?  I have found that creating a list of self-imposed guidelines helps me know what to do when I might otherwise lose confidence, freeze or become tongue-tied in a social environment.

My Top Fifteen List of Rules of Social Decorum:

  • Pay attention to where you are and what your purpose is in being there.
  • Your best handshake begins when webs touch.
  • Do not interrupt another person when that person is talking.  If you do, interrupt yourself and say, “I’m sorry; please do go on.”
  • When you disagree, stay calm.  Do not become negative or emotional.
  • When you invite others to dinner, inquire about their dietary restrictions and preferences.
  • Use appropriate language for the situation you are in.
  • Make sure that what you wear fits the situation.
  • Check your attitude before entering the company of others and employ your pleasing personality.
  • Aim for humility and forgive yourself when you fail at it.
  • With your inward compass set for refinement, Improve yourself on a daily basis.
  • Always be ready to help someone save face!
  • Say, “Excuse me; Thank you,” while moving through a crowd.
  • Work at remembering people’s names and asking for a refresh when your mind has misplaced one.
  • Holding a door for others if you’re the first one there.
  • Always ask yourself in situations that you aren’t sure about, “What would be most etiquette-ful to say right now?”

Putting the Rules in Action

Social decorum involves knowing the right and wrong times to do or say something.  We teach children that it is okay to feel many things, but not okay to hurt others by blurting them out when with friends or family.

An attitude of helpfulness is the best assistant for navigating social decorum.  Imagining how another person feels and doing what you can to make them feel comfortable and uplifted in a given moment is always the goal.

Building networks of social relationships helps us have a sense of belonging.  Your encouraging nature will serve you, as others will perceive you in a good light and treat you well.  You are creating lasting impressions that establish trust and reliance.

The most interesting thing of all is that aiming to be the best you can be in all social situations actually helps others to act as their better selves, too.

“I am a journalist in the field of etiquette. I try to find out what the most genteel people regularly do, what traditions they have discarded, what compromises they have made.”
~ Amy Vanderbilt

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