Don’t Be A Jerk: Revisiting Basic Etiquette and Social Graces


March 26, 2017
Read Time: 6 minutes

The basic rules of proper etiquette some Filipinos forget about



Welcome to the 21st  century, a time defined by progress, innovation, information at our fingertips and multitudinous sources of knowledge. Alas, a question: does this automatically mean then that we’re at our most evolved state as a society?


In part, what we’ve managed is to do is more things—just faster. We’ve also never been more distracted as a society, stuck in a cycle of rushing, making use of online tools and social media to keep up with real life itself: the setting in which we often forget the significance of common decency.


“Thank you,” employee A types in her email, for example, expressing gratitude to a client she honors…as she simultaneously jets past the person who held the door open for her while she was glued to her phone.


Perhaps we should grant our folks and our grandparents their “in my day” sermons and “during my time” speeches. We might just learn a thing or two. True enough, the idea of charm school may rub people the wrong way. Extreme feminists AKA “feminazis” might argue that several elements in etiquette courses are sexist or suggest that women are weak or inferior. But this isn’t about reverting to an old way of thinking. This is about good manners you cannot put a date stamp on. This is about behavior tied to your values, reflect your character and exhibit good breeding and education—or lack thereof.




First impressions first: When being introduced to somebody, offer your right hand for a handshake.

If you are being introduced to someone while you are seated, DO stand up first and then offer your hand: Two pumps should you be in a business setting. Three in informal settings. Eye contact always.


If you have someone with you when you bump into an old friend or acquaintance—anyone else actually for that matter—greet him or her quickly and then direct your attention to the person you are with. Introduce the two to one another. Use first and last names when making the introduction in formal or business settings.


Don’t just go rambling on and catching up with your old buddy while the person you’re with is just standing there. Cue cricket sounds


The Lowdown on the Perfect Handshake:

via Snag A Job



Don’t show up to a friend or relative’s house unannounced.

Call first (with a one to two-day allowance before your visit).


How you behave in an elevator says a lot about you, so mind your elevator etiquette.

Has a term for the fear of getting off the wrong floor from the elevator been coined yet? It seems some people do have a legitimate phobia given their refusal to give way to those who need to get off on their floor. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s best we begin with the rude behavior at the push of the elevator button.


Here, illustrator Nathan W. Pyle provides a visual guide:


Rule of thumb: People on the elevator get to leave first.


Carrying a backpack? Do take it off first and hold it on front of you while riding the elevator.



Folks by the elevator buttons: be thoughtful ladies and gentlemen and hold the door open for those coming through or leaving.



If someone needs to leave, step off first to give way and then come back inside the elevator.




It’s best to keep your phone off the dinner table.

This one is a toss-up: some say it’s socially acceptable to place your phone at the table while you have your meal. Some still say it’s a no-no.


What matters at this point is being present: that you don’t allow yourself to be distracted by your phone while you have company. So put your phone on silent or better yet, keep it in your purse or pocket and definitely don’t use it in the middle of your meal with someone.




If you need to take a call during a sit-down meal, excuse yourself, get up and step outside.

There’s nothing worse than an insufferable loudmouth who takes their private calls out in the open for everyone to hear. And there’s a special place in hell for those who take their private calls in a quiet place…on speakerphone.




Clean as you go.

The Pinoy’s “yaya mentality” has to go. There may be people in maintenance assigned to wipe down tables and clean the general area, but you should take it upon yourself to bus out as a form of respect for other diners.




The CLAYGO rule applies in public restrooms as well.

To those who brush their teeth at work: DO wash down the sink thoroughly once you are through using it. No one should have to clean up your toothpaste glob or any other leftovers on the sink for you.


Respect your shared space.



The Lowdown on Restroom Etiquette:

Infographic: Wibtrac



Always fall in line: Find the end of the queue and line up accordingly.

Don’t be afraid to ask about where the end of the line is if people look rather scattered. Fall in line to show respect to those that were already waiting before you arrived.





When someone opens the door for you, say thank you.

They’re not obliged to do that for you, your highness. So take two seconds to get off your phone and invest in a little human interaction; look up and say thank you. In-person conversations and relationships, to this day, matter more than virtual ones.




Write thank-you notes.

Be it for a potential boss after your interview with him or her, for an opportunity given to you by a former mentor or for a client referred to you by a former colleague. It isn’t a must, but it is a sign of thoughtfulness and good breeding (and since it isn’t common practice, this will instantly set you apart).



The Lowdown on Formal Thank-You Notes:

via Career Bliss


Yes, we’re all grateful for the conveniences that come with the 21 st century, but this doesn’t mean basic etiquette are out of fashion. It will always pay to think about your social graces.



Art Alexandra Lara

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