The rules of etiquette are a set of unspoken rules that have been determined by society as a whole. Etiquette is made up of social norms that evolve with repeated behaviors that are accepted within a society. Although certain etiquette rules are universally accepted worldwide, many socially accepted behaviors vary in different countries because they are influenced by different cultures and customs. It is important for people to be familiar with the basic rules of etiquette that are expected in all cultures.
One of the most fundamental pieces of etiquette is common courtesy. Whether discussing personal or business relationships at home or abroad, it is expected that common courtesy is extended to and among people. This includes, but is not limited to, saying “please,” “thank you,” “excuse me,” and other phrases that portray basic politeness.
Another basic rule is holding the door for other people. In addition to men holding the door for women, it is expected that all people hold the door when the time is appropriate, including for an elderly person or someone who is carrying groceries or shopping bags.
Being on time is one of the rules of etiquette which gets broken frequently. Of course, there are circumstances, such as accidents or unexpected delays, of which people have no control, but it is considered rude and socially unacceptable to arrive late, whether attending an informal meeting or gathering, a meeting, an appointment or a formal social gathering such as a wedding or funeral.
One of the most important rules is to avoid any kind of grooming in public. Women who need to file and clip their nails, brush their hair, pluck their eyebrows or adjust their undergarments should excuse themselves to the restroom. Men should be especially aware of scratching or adjusting their genital area in public.
The invention of cell phones has fostered a whole set of etiquette rules surrounding the use of cell phones in public. All people entering any sort of public place should turn the ringer off on their phone and under no circumstances should a cell phone be answered while dining. In the event that an incoming or outgoing phone call is absolutely necessary, the person should politely excuse himself to another room or outside to briefly handle the matter.
The rules of etiquette also dictate appropriate conversation topics for social gatherings. It is considered bad taste to bring up explosive subjects, such as religion, politics, and finances. Opinions about these subjects are very personal and may cause arguments among the closest of friends and family. Sharing opinions about these topics in a business setting is often considered rude unless necessary for a specific job requirement.