10 Fantastic Must-Know Modern Rules for Etiquette (PHOTOS)

Liz Alterman | Oct 28, 2014 Home & Garden

man eating on busDo you sometimes wonder if we're becoming more and more of a manner-less society each day? (If you've recently been stuck on a train or bus with someone eating a fajita, you know what I mean!) 

Fortunately, Debrett's, the British authority on social etiquette, recently published a 480-page handbook to help navigate the choppy waters of modern manners. 

Do you find yourself doing #3? Check out our slideshow and then tell us: Which of these issues have you wondered about and which bugs you the most? 


Image © Anna Peisl/Corbis

  • Cellphone Use


    According to the experts at Debrett’s, inquiries about cellphone use topped the list of manners conundrums. The etiquette pros say it is always rude to pay more attention to a phone than a live person (You'd think we'd know that, but I guess it bears repeating.)

    Further, phones should not be used when interacting with others, such as when you're buying something at the store or ordering in a restaurant. Mobile devices should also be turned off in theaters -- from the moment you sit down -- art galleries, and any other places where silence is golden.  

    More from The Stir: I Will Recline My Seat on Planes Whenever I Darn Well Feel Like It

  • Social Greetings


    To kiss or not to kiss, that is often the question when you bump into a friend or acquaintance. 

    Kissing is not appropriate in most professional situations, according to Debrett’s, and should be reserved for friends, but not on the first introduction. An air kiss can be conveyed as rude or impersonal, so minimal contact is considered best, but keep the volume off; no "mwah!" sound effects are necessary.

  • Eating While on a Bus or Train


    Eating -- especially something with a pungent aroma -- while in a contained environment such a bus or train is a definite no-no, experts say. 

  • Applying Makeup in Public


    Applying makeup while in transit is another "don't," according to Debrett's, as it can put that all-important first impression in jeopardy and make you look disheveled and unorganized.  

  • Reclining on an Airplane


    During short, daytime flights, it's polite to keep your seatback in the upright position, according to Debrett's. (Bummer, I know.) Also, avoid kicking the seat in front of you and don't even think about using that chair to pull yourself up. (I know I've been guilty of this and ended up inadvertently pulling the hair of the person seated in that chair. Yikes!)

  • Giving Up Your Seat


    Here's another transit issue: Should you give up your seat on a bus or train? According to Debrett's, the answer is a resounding "yes" if the person standing is pregnant, elderly, or obviously in need. On the flip side, declining the offer of a seat is just as rude as not offering one, experts note.

  • Blind Copying on Email


    What is the best practice when it comes to blind copying email recipients? 

    Because it can be viewed as deceptive to the primary recipient, use it with discretion, according to Debrett’s. Rather, consider forwarding the email with a brief note explaining that it is being shared in confidence if that is the case. 

    If blind copying is a must and you wish to keep all recipients confidential, address the email to yourself and then "bcc" everyone else on the list.

  • CC: Email


    Sending a mass email to a group is often convenient, but there are times when blind copying is best. After having been solicited multiple times by everyone from bakers to clothiers thanks to being cc'd on some school email lists, I'm a bigger fan of the "bcc" than ever!

  • Wait to Eat Until Everyone Is Served


    So, you've got a tasty dish in front of you, but the person on your right and left haven't been served yet? Can you dig in? Not so fast, say the experts at Debrett's. Unless your host or hostess gives you the green light to go ahead, it's proper to wait until everyone has been served before you start eating. 

  • Smoking E-Cigarettes at Work


    Smoking electronic cigarettes is never acceptable in the workplace, as it shows you're not focused on your work and is rude to your colleagues, according to Debrett's. So if you were thinking of pulling a modern day Don Draper, take it outside!