17 Social Etiquette Rules Every Adult Should Know

As adults, we must know what common rules we should follow so that we don’t appear rude to others. These important rules can help us in everyday scenarios, for example, while at work, with friends or even on dates.

Respond Promptly to Personal Texts

Photo Credit: Dorde Krstic/Shutterstock.

Everyone has a busy life, however, this shouldn’t mean friends have to wait a lengthy amount of time to receive a response. This is backed up by Reader’s Digest who says “You should answer within 24 hours, and within eight hours if it’s someone close to you.” Personal texts deserve a response, even if it’s just an emoji.

Avoid Voicemails

Photo Credit: Daria Voronchuk/Shutterstock.

Back in the days of landline phones, a voicemail was always preferred if a call was missed. Now that we have smartphones, people rarely listen to voicemails and would rather receive a text. If texting isn’t an option then an email can be sent, otherwise, if a voicemail is a must then it should be kept brief.

Don’t Say Yes When You Mean No

Photo Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock.

Sometimes when we’re asked to commit to something we feel under pressure to say yes, even when we don’t want to do something. Saying yes and then canceling at the last minute can be rude. To avoid disappointment, it’s better to politely say no.

Put Away Your Phone When You’re With Others

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Efani says “Being on your phone in the presence of other people is very rude and inappropriate.” It’s important to prioritize being physically present and if possible, using the do not disturb setting. If an important call needs to be taken then make sure to politely excuse yourself.

Be Respectful When Filming in Public Places

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com.

Not everyone wants to be on camera, so it’s important to take others into consideration when filming in public. Make sure to avoid taking up too much space if you’re filming in a public area. Also, avoid walking into anyone else’s personal space as this shows disrespect. Don’t use the public as props for pranks, unless they’ve first given permission.

Let Someone Know If They’re On Speakerphone

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

It’s polite to let someone know if they’re on speakerphone when you’re in a public place or with others. Southern Living supports this by saying it’s a common courtesy to let someone know they’re on speakerphone. It’s important to respect a person’s privacy when on the phone, as what they could say may be confidential.

Dress Appropriately

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com.

A person needs to know how to dress for different occasions. Casual wear shouldn’t be worn to formal events and an effort should be made when visiting someone’s home. Dressing appropriately shows respect to the person who organized the event and also to the attendees.

Don’t Show Up Empty Handed

Photo Credit: j.chizhe/Shutterstock.

It’s social etiquette to pick up a small gift when invited to someone’s home. For example, HackSpirit says “It doesn’t take a lot to grab a bunch of flowers or a bottle of wine when a friend invites you around.” It’s important to put thought into the gift and this will make sure it’s well received.

Send Thank You Notes

Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.

Make sure to always express gratitude for any gifts received. Someone has put in effort to purchase a gift and this should always be acknowledged. Handwritten notes are the best way to express thanks. Other ways include a text, email or even a phone call. The same goes with invitations, it’s always important to RSVP.

Offer Condolences When People Are Grieving

Photo Credit: JGA/Shutterstock.

When a person has lost someone they love, make sure to express sympathy. Everplans makes this clear by saying “If you are a close friend or relative: Call or text immediately.” Support is always appreciated when someone is grieving and it lets a person know that they aren’t alone.

Don’t Block Driveways With Your Vehicle

Photo Credit: Alena Veasey/Shutterstock.

It’s important to be mindful of where you park. If there’s no option but to block someone else’s driveway, then it’s important to let the homeowner know. It could be the case that they need to leave their property, and now they can’t. Always be respectful of someone else’s property.


Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

This could be at a restaurant or even your delivery person. A small tip can make all the difference to hospitality workers as they have to put in so much hard work. Service should always be acknowledged and Science of People writes that a tip of 15-20% should be given in a sit-down restaurant.

Let Neighbors Know If You’re Having A Party

Photo Credit: LADO/Shutterstock.

Neighbors should be informed about any potential noise or disturbances, especially if the party will be going into the early hours of the morning. Ideally, parties should be avoided on weeknights as people usually have to be up early for work. Planning parties with your neighbors in mind can avoid any future disputes.

Give Notice If You’re Going To Cancel

Photo Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock.

Last minute cancellations should be avoided as it’s usually considered rude. Optimist Daily recognizes this and suggests calling the person if you need to cancel, as it’s usually a politer form of communication compared to text. Make sure to respect another person’s plans and time by canceling as soon as possible.

Clean Up After Your Dog

Photo Credit: ThamKC/Shutterstock.

Public spaces need to stay clear of dog fouling. It keeps areas clean and stops anyone from accidentally stepping in it. Clearing up after your dog also helps the environment and protects any wildlife. Social etiquette is reflected through pet ownership and with dog waste bins available, there’s no reason not to abide by the rules.

Be Respectful Of People Working

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Noise should be kept to a minimum in workspaces so that it doesn’t disrupt others. Make sure to avoid loud conversations or loud music in office environments. It’s important to respect the workspace of others, especially if the space is shared.

Take Responsibility

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Taking accountability for any mistakes or owning up when in the wrong is an important part of social etiquette. Owning up to any errors shows a person has maturity and respect for another person. It’s key in social interactions and is always the polite thing to do.


Photo Credit: Ekateryna Zubal/Shutterstock.