15 Obvious Social Etiquettes That Are Not So Obvious

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A boy pushing an old man on a wheelchair

Look up the coolest celebrity on the internet, and if the name Keanu Reeves doesn’t appear, it should.

This has little to do with the man’s incredible acting skills but a lot with his social etiquette. It’s often told how the A-lister signs everyone’s autographs, takes the train, and helps the crew on set. 

Once, when fans trespassed his property, he shared a couple of beers with them instead of calling the cops (not all heroes wear capes).

Now, most of us won’t relate to acting on the biggest stage on the planet, but we can at least learn a few things from him being a genuinely nice person.

Here are 15 social etiquette you should have – and that no one prolly teaches you – if you want to be as cool as Mr. Reeves.

1. Call a Cab

Forget his promiscuity for a second. Barney Stinson has arguably the greatest social etiquette quote of all time. It’s from this that we source our first four points.

When you need transportation, call a cab. Always assume your friends are busy or unavailable. We are at an age where cabs are an app away.

Stop inconveniencing your friends. Trust me, none of them wants to be your taxi service.

2. Book A Room When in Town

Still on not inconveniencing your friends, book a room when you are in town. 

Everyone has their routines and commitments, and arranging your own accommodation helps maintain a sense of personal boundaries. You don’t want your presence to unintentionally disrupt the daily lives of friends or family.

Plus, you save them the struggle of having to tiptoe around in the morning, trying not to wake the “temporary roommate.”

So, when in doubt, book that room and turn your stay into a vacation, not a sitcom.

3. Don’t Overstay Your Visit

And when you can’t afford to book a place and need to crash on your friend’s couch, remember, there are still rules to it.

Finish your business and leave before you become a permanent resident in someone else’s living room. Respect the host’s schedule and allow them to enjoy their private time.

Don’t forget to make your bedding every morning, even if you don’t do it at your place.

4. Call Movers

Movers placing furniture in a truck

Moving is often a strenuous and time-consuming task. So, save your friends the physical and mental torture. 

There are professional movers who are equipped with the resources and expertise to handle these tasks efficiently. Hire them.

After all, your friends are precious, but so is your sofa without a dent. Pivot, pivot, pivot!

5 Don’t Order Expensive Stuff When Someone Else is Paying

It’s fine if you only drink the most expensive champagne on the menu. But when it’s someone else footing the bill, stick to the mid-range options.

Because, let’s be honest, no one wants to see their host’s eyes bulge out when the bills arrive. Then, a friendly gathering turns into an awkward moment.

The goal is to savor the meal and have the peace of mind that comes with being a thoughtful guest.

6. Refund Borrowed Money

Even if and especially when it’s from a friend.

Just because they are your friends doesn’t give you a pass on not paying back. Returning borrowed money is not just good manners; it is respectful and considerate.

There is a quote I love:

Never lend money to friends, it’s dangerous. It could damage their memory.

7. Don’t Visit Someone Empty Handed

When someone is kind enough to invite you to their place, the least you can do is show up with a little token of appreciation.

Whether it’s a bottle of champagne, a box of chocolates, or their favorite snack, bringing a little something shows your gratitude for the invitation and adds a touch of warmth to the occasion.

Remember, it’s not about the monetary value of the gift, but the thought behind it that counts.

If you’ve been on the receiving end of this social tradition, then you know how heartwarming it is to know that someone took their time to choose or prepare a little something for you.

That’s the spirit of Ubuntu.

8. Littering

4 people collecting litter from the beach

It’s not just illegal; littering is rude and irresponsible.

Just because there is no trash can around doesn’t mean you should throw your litter anywhere, anyhow.

Keep your trash in your pocket, your car, or hold it until you come across a bin, then you can litter there.

We are all sharing this space called Earth, and we want everyone, even those who come after us, to enjoy it as much as we do.

Be responsible.

Pick up your dog’s poop, don’t litter anywhere and recycle. You are making the world a better place when you do so.

9. Missed a Call? At Least Text Back

It’s okay if you missed someone’s call. It happens. 

Or, in not-so-rare cases, you deliberately let it go to voicemail because, for whatever reason, you didn’t feel like talking.

But for the sake of courtesy, call them back, or at least, text them to acknowledge and apologize for their missed call.

It gives a sense of mutual respect and responsibility.

10. Don’t Call More Than Twice

For those who love calling (Gen Z and older), anything more than twice is rude and equals invading someone’s space. There is a reason why they didn’t pick up your call. 

They are either unavailable or in no place to answer your call. Whatever the case, take the hint.

It’s only expected that they will reach out once back. If it’s important, leave a message asking them to call you back ASAP.

11. Let People Get Off First

Crowd of commuters traveling by subway train

Stop making it hard for people to get off.

Whether it’s on an elevator, subway, or any public means, the general rule is to empty before reloading. I mean, if the bus is full, where will more people fit?

Wait a reasonable amount of time before boarding. Sure, you don’t need to wait for everyone to exit but yield to anyone exiting. 

Make sure there is enough room for people to exit while you enter. This ensures a steady stream of people still exiting.

12. Headphones in Public

And when you are finally inside the public means, it’s not time to show off your impromptu deejaying skills. Trust me, your fellow commuters have their own playlists.

That built-in phone speaker is not a substitute for a proper sound system. No one else needs to be a part of your phone call or enjoy your YouTube involuntarily.

If you have a set of earphones or headphones, this would be the perfect time to use them. You can play your music as loud as you’d like without annoying anyone.

13. Canceling Plans

If you must cancel a plan with a friend, be the first to make new ones.

Friends or plans? Plans, of course.

Sometimes, life happens, and you need to pause your scheduled hangouts. But when you do so, call your friends and tell them about the adjusted plans.

If you don’t create new plans, you may need to make new friends.

14. Waiting in Line


Forming a queue or waiting in line helps maintain order in different situations.

But when you do so, maintain a respectful and comfortable distance from the other person. It’s so annoying when you can feel a stranger breath into your ears. Invading someone’s space won’t make the line shorter.

And no, I won’t talk about cutting lines. That’s just common sense.

15. Use Turn Signals

In an ideal world, everyone is a mind reader, and we don’t need turn signals to announce our next moves.

But we’re not in an ideal world. And we do actually need turn signals. You are not doing it to reveal your plan to your enemy; you are simply ensuring everyone stays safe.

Honorable Mentions

Our list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning these other etiquettes. So many things to keep up with, but I don’t make the rules. Hate the game, not the player.

  • Remember the three magical words: Sorry, please, and thank you.
  • Avoid asking questions like ‘Don’t you have kids?’ or ‘Aren’t you married yet?’
  • Open the door for whoever’s behind you. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a junior or senior, a man or a lady. In a world where you can be anything, be kind.
  • Respect other people’s opinions, especially when they are different from yours. Remember, Four plus eight equals twelve, but so does six plus six
  • Don’t interrupt someone when they are talking. Give them time to pour it out, then you can speak.
  • It’s okay to tease someone. But when they don’t seem to enjoy it, stop. 
  • Whenever possible, avoid commenting on someone’s weight. Don’t talk about losing weight unless they bring it up.
  • Don’t give advice until asked. No one likes a smartass.

Good Manners Over Looks

Most of you couldn’t help but mutter, ‘I know, right?’ when going through this list.

You’d be surprised at how many things that seem obvious aren’t so to many people. It’s okay if you fall short on some of these etiquettes. No one grows up knowing this sh!t.

But now you know. So, be on your best behavior always. Remember, good behavior is better than good looks.


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