There are rules, mottos and life tips we all pick up as we work our way from innocent childhood, through awkward teen years and finally emerge as an adult. Hopefully during that time a number of social etiquette norms have become standard and instinctive for you. Sometimes we learn by fumbling through a situation that leaves us embarrassed enough to never want to repeat that again.

But if by chance there are things you have always wondered about, here are my top ten social etiquette rules.

  1. Always, always, always make an effort to engage people with genuinely good eye contact. It is so rare these days that people often appreciate it more than you expect.
  2. Wait for people to finish their sentences and listen to what they are saying instead of waiting for your turn to speak. If all you are waiting for is a chance to interject, you will inevitably interrupt and quite possibly offend the person you are with.
  3. When someone compliments you, take it. Think about it…by shaking your head and turning the compliment down, you are saying the other person is wrong. That’s not very nice, now is it?
  4. If you are with company or out to dinner and happen to be expecting a phone call, let your companions know ahead of time so they don’t quietly judge when your eyes repeatedly dart to your blackberry screen.
  5. Be patient when waiting to get in elevators, subways or cabs. Wait for other people to get off/out first before entering. There is very  rarely a reason to rudely push past other passengers first.
  6. Image: Newscom

    Michelle Obama and Carla Bruni | Image: Newscom

  7. Respect the under 10 items line at the supermarket. This should be a no-brainer.
  8. Bring a bottle of wine or some beer when you go to a friend’s house. You don’t want to be known as the person who arrives, imbibes and leaves. You would expect the same of guests attending one of your soirees, would you not?
  9. Tip generously.
  10. If you are meeting someone for the first time and just coming off a cold, mention it and don’t shake their hand. I can’t imagine anyone would prefer germs.
  11. If you get to the door first, hold it open. Yes, your knight in shining cufflinks might scoot ahead to be that person, but if you are out with colleagues and find yourself there first, be a sport and man the door for a second.