If you think etiquette has lost relevance in today’s world, it’s time for a refresher course. Decorum isn’t a dusty set of rules about which fork to use; it’s a code of behavior for treating others well and, in turn, improving relationships both at work and in your personal life.
If your relationships with your peers, boss, clients, family and friends are suffering, do a personal evaluation of the list below.
Are you a good listener?
Listening well is an art. Instead of filling the silence with your own chatter, ask thoughtful questions while seeking a new frame of reference or point of view. If you find yourself rushing the other person through their thoughts or asking the same questions they just covered, you may want to make an effort to pay thoughtful attention.
Are you impatient?
If your personal mantra is “Hurry up and cut to the chase,” you are probably in need of taking a deep breath and slowing down your pace. Make an effort to form deeper connections and spend time being in the present moment with those you interact with on a daily basis. When you are in constant motion, you not only miss out on creating connections but also set yourself up for mistakes due to poor communication. Focus on doing things better, not faster.
Are you distracted by your cell phone?
When you give more attention to your device than the people in front of you, you are sending the message they are not significant. Technology used at the right time can be invaluable, but when you are texting during a meeting or at dinner with family and friends, you run the risk of offending them and harming your reputation. Use your cell phone with discretion.
Are you always running late?
If you are incessantly tardy, it makes it difficult for people to trust you. Your boss may be reluctant to hand over top clients, suspecting you will keep them waiting, and your friends may begin to tell you to arrive 30 minutes earlier than the actual event time. Show respect for others by arriving five minutes early instead of 10 minutes late.
Are you a gossip?
Have you noticed the person who says he or she is a “vault” and encourages negative chatter is generally the same one that cannot be relied on to keep their mouth shut? A gossip is toxic and cannot be trusted. Next time you are tempted to share another person’s confidential information, think twice and protect your character. If you know someone who incessantly speaks out of turn, don’t be afraid to say in a polite tone of voice, “I am uncomfortable hearing information which is not meant to be shared.”
Are you using your best manners?
A smart person knows the value of social skills and common courtesy. It’s important to place a high value on civility in all of your interactions. As Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget the things you do, and people will forget the things you say. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” Make a point of leaving every situation a little better than you found it.
For more of Diane’s etiquette tips, you may enjoy reading Test Your Etiquette IQ: Everyday Protocol We Should All Know. You can also visit Diane’s blog, connect with her here on HuffPost, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Buy her new book, Modern Etiquette for a Better Life.