May 9-13 is officially National Etiquette Week so in honor of this week long event, I thought I would provide a few suggestions on we can all participate in such an important week for society. I would love to hear your suggestions too so post or comment here!
Before we start, let’s define the meaning of etiquette. According to Wikipedia, Etiquette is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group. So, in other words, it’s how we behave towards each other that is considered appropriate and well mannered.
The list below represents those suggestions at the top of my mind and what I observe regularly as a New Yorker.
1. Subway Etiquette - when the subway enters the station and you want to board the train, please move aside and allow commuters to get off the subway first. I’ve been living in Manhattan for over 11 years and I’m amazed at how often people block the doors. How is this going to get you on the train any sooner?
2. More Subway Etiquette – your handbag, book bag or shopping bags do not get their own seat. Please keep these bags on your lap of on the floor so an actual human being can sit down. Oh and yes, as the photo to the right suggests, “No Man-Sitting!”
3. Sidewalk Etiquette - the rule is that a sidewalk is a two way street and shouldn’t be used for a group of people taking up the entire sidewalk and expecting others to move aside.
4. More Sidewalk Etiquette – if someone isn’t walking fast enough for you, no need to sign or breathe heavy just walk around them.
6. Pay Attention, Please – put down your phone and actually be present when speaking to a friend, significant other, colleague, etc. I’m often in situations where I’m speaking with someone and they are looking down at their Blackberry or iPhones and not at me! Extend the courtesy of looking at someone when they are speaking to you; the email can wait.
7. Interrupting - if my family or friends are reading this, they probably want to know why I didn’t opt to put this as my #1 suggestion. This is probably my biggest pet peeve; when people interrupt when speaking. I’m all for heated and engaged discussions but it’s very important to allow people to complete their sentence or thought without having someone interrupt, as if what they are saying is insignificant.
8. Elevator Etiquette - if you live in an apartment building and are fortunate enough to live on the top floor that’s wonderful but send down the elevator for the next person so he / she doesn’t have to wait an eternity for it to come down.
9. Email Etiquette - leave your emotions at the door and refrain from engaging in aggressive and pointless conversations with those you believe are behaving badly. Instead of the email chains we have become accustomed to, pick up the phone and air it out that way.
10. Blog Comments Etiquette - it’s great to have a point of view but be sure to express it in a professional and value added manner versus a confrontational one.
11. Gift Etiquette – if someone sends you a gift whether for your birthday, your kids birthday, a baby gift, shower or wedding gift, etc. yes, it’s good etiquette so acknowledge their generosity with a thank you. I’ve mailed or sent gifts on 4 different occasions recently and haven’ t received one thank you. Was there some article written by an expert recently that changed the rules on sending thank you’s for gifts that I missed?