Man is a social animal. We live in a world where even though there is a sense of individuality and personal space, it has to co-exist with a world view. We have the freedom, but rarely the freedom to do ‘anything’ we want to do. Rules and regulations dictate how we live and behave with our fellow man, and rightly so, because only then, can a rational and right world exist.
There are some social rules which are unwritten, unspoken, yet everyone is expected to know. We give you a lowdown.
1. When you are over at someone’s place and they say, “I have a lot of work tomorrow” or “It’s getting late.”
This is your cue to take their leave because they really have to retire and no matter how pleasant, having friends/people over can be a taxing experience. While you’re at it, please clean up after you. Nobody likes guests who come over, trash the place, and leave.
2. When you’re riding with someone in their car for a considerable distance.
Four things here:
• Offer to split their fuel prices. It’s considerate and they’ll hesitate less if you ask them for a ride the next time.
• Don’t be a dick and hog their radio/music player. Even if they do offer you to play your music, play something everyone will like.
• Don’t insult their car. It’s very inconsiderate, considering you’re getting an almost free ride.
• If you’re the only one sharing the ride, please sit in front. Nobody likes to feel like your chauffeur.
3. Your fragrance/cologne has to be discovered, not announced.
Everyone likes a well-kept person, but not one who has bathed in perfume or deodorant. Every cologne has its own concentration levels, find it and apply accordingly. People like a soft fragrant breeze when you pass by them, not a waft of strong musk in their face.
4. Holding the door open or pulling the chair out for people is kind, regardless of gender.
Chivalry is not dead, don’t kill it. When you’re in front of someone and stepping out, hold the door for others to pass, people will notice you and it will leave a good impression on them. It may even brighten their day if they’re having a shitty one. If you’re with someone at a restaurant, hold the chair out for them. Everyone likes a well-mannered person. But don’t do the above if the people in question are far away and they have to do this awkward brisk walk just because you don’t have to keep the door open for a while.
5. When two or more people are huddled around you and are talking in low voices, they’re probably having a private conversation.
And they clearly don’t want you in on it. Learn to respect their privacy and excuse yourself quietly and gracefully. They’ll appreciate your accommodating behaviour, and you just earned some social brownie points.
6. When someone is nervous or shy in a social scenario, DO NOT point it out to them.
They know it better than you and pointing it out even in a joking manner or trying to make the situation light will decrease their confidence. Instead, distract them, make conversation, get them in a groove. They’ll appreciate the help.
7. When making plans with friends in front of other friends.
Don’t. If you don’t want someone invited in your plans, don’t make them or discuss them while they’re within earshot of you. It hurts their sentiments and eventually distances them from you. Not to mention if they invite themselves, that’s a whole new level of awkwardness. You don’t want that.
8. When in a social situation and you want to speak to someone you find attractive.
Don’t overthink and overanalyse. Walk up to them and say hello. There is no better icebreaker in the world than a simple ‘Hello’ followed by a smile. Don’t hit on them. Be a friendly new acquaintance. Politeness and good manners go a long way.
9. When someone you know has an obvious change in appearance, e.g., weight gain/loss, bald spot, acne.
It is rude and none of your business to comment on it. They already know about it and are feeling pretty bad themselves without you blatantly pointing it out to them. They might be working on it, but acknowledging what they have decreases their confidence in you and themselves.
10. When you want to send a point or suggestion across, hints won’t work.
Don’t drop hints. It gets worse when people don’t get it, and when they do, it lowers your impression in their eyes. Speak up, it’s the truth. You may come across as blunt and in-their-faces, but you will be appreciated for your honesty and straight talk.
11. Silence doesn’t have to be awkward.
There is a reason the proverb goes, “Silence is golden.” Silence is calm, serene. When in a social situation, always having something to talk is never necessary. Sometimes, silence is also appreciated, and it brings people closer too. There can be had many a conversation without a single word spoken.
12. Everyone has their personal space around them. Respect it.
Don’t stand too close and talk. There is a socially acceptable distance at which you can stand and talk, that you can guess will make people comfortable. Even if you’re intimate with someone, it’s still polite to talk with a respectable distance between the two of you.
13. When someone is walking their pet and you come across them.
Please ask permission before you pet them. Many pets are newborns, or still young, and they aren’t as welcoming to strangers. They might get out of hand (literally, or otherwise) and harm you, or give their owners a hard time in getting them back in control.
14. An opinion is a very sensitive issue with many.
Just because you might be entitled to offer one, doesn’t mean that it is mandatory for you to do so. And if you are asked for one, don’t take offence if you are criticised for it. It’s okay for others to offer their opinions as much as it is okay for you to express yours.
15. When talking on the phone and you enter into an argument.
Please do everyone else a favour and find a quiet or empty corner or place to go to and sort it out. If you are in public, please don’t shout over your phone. No one cares about your personal arguments and no one wants any of it. Hang up and tell them you’ll call back.
Bonus: This might give both of you the chance to calm down and sort out your differences in peace.
16. If all else fails, remember, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
Observe. Follow people’s cues and do what they’re doing. Watch what they’re doing and follow suit. For example, when in a gathering at a restaurant, if no one has started eating, it’s rude to dig in. Following the group’s lead won’t land you in a soup! (hehe :P)
Be considerate, respect others, have empathy, and all will be well.