Unwritten Social Rules Everyone Should Follow
Are you wondering what are the unwritten social rules everyone should know? If you struggle with social anxiety, then it can be hard to navigate the world of social interaction.
What are the unspoken rules that everyone is aware of but people who struggle with this issue don’t seem to get?
What if you were able to follow these rules and have a better time at any event or gathering where there was a chance for face-to-face interactions?
What would your life look like then?
Read on to learn more about what are the unwritten social rules everyone should know!
1. Don’t Give Advice Unless You Are Specifically Asked for It
If a friend is going through a rough time, it’s easy to want to give advice or offer what you see as an obvious solution to their troubles.
However, just because you can see the solution doesn’t mean that your friend is ready to hear it!
What if they are still processing what is happening? What if they need more time before they are ready to solve the problem? Be careful not to push your solutions on them. Instead, offer a listening ear.
2. Say Please and Thank You (and Teach Your Kids to Do This Too)
In a world full of entitlement, it’s easy to forget the power of politeness.
What do you think about when someone says please and thank you?
It makes them seem like a kind and thoughtful person, right? Using manners when you speak or write is an easy way to show respect for yourself and others.
3. Introduce Yourself When Meeting Someone New (Do This Before Anything Else)
While this may seem like a no-brainer, introducing yourself is such an important part of meeting new people. Take a moment to tell them your name and hopefully, they will reciprocate with theirs as well.
4. Learn People’s Names (and Use Them Often)
When you learn someone’s name, it is a form of acknowledgment. It shows that they are important enough for you to take the time to listen and remember what their name is.
It’s basically like saying, “What an honor it is to meet you!”
So when meeting with new people or being introduced by friends, be sure to have them repeat their name so that you can become familiar with it!
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5. Pause Before Responding to Snarky or Sarcastic Comments (Online or in Person)
When you’re in a conversation and someone says something that’s snarky, it can be hard to not respond.
However, you will come off as calm and collected if you don’t immediately respond to the snarky comment with another one.
What’s even better is if you can show that you are above it all by responding in a kind way.
6. Don’t Talk About People Behind Their Back (And Avoid People Who Do This)
If you are talking to someone and they say something negative about a person who isn’t in the room, don’t talk about that person behind their back. You should try to avoid talking poorly of others at all costs because it can make you look like you’re gossiping or not nice.
7. Don’t Be Late (It’s Rude) to Make a Good Impression
If you are meeting someone for an event or a date, don’t be late. What if they’re early? Make sure you are prompt and ready at the agreed time so that you can make a good first impression.
8. Avoid Oversharing and Watch Other’s Body Language
Oversharing is when someone tells others too much information about themselves without being asked to share their story (this is common among those who struggle to read social cues).
Watch for signs that the other person is not interested in what you are saying.
If they seem to be fidgeting, checking their phone, or yawning more than usual, stop talking and ask them a question.
9. Avoid Discussing Sensitive Topics on a First Date
If it’s your first date with someone and there is a lull in the conversation, avoid discussing sensitive topics such as politics and religion.
If you feel the need to bring up a sensitive topic, do it in a gentle way that doesn’t seem like an attack or argument.
For example: “This election has been on my mind lately” instead of “I can’t believe people are voting/supporting ____.”
10. Be Considerate of Other People’s Personal Space
It’s important not to invade other people’s personal space. What seems like a friendly hug to you might feel uncomfortable or awkward to someone else. If it’s not your friend, keep physical contact at a minimum and don’t linger too long when hugging them goodbye.
11. Offer Your Seat to People Who Need it More Than You
If you are seated and notice someone else who needs to be seated more than you, offer your seat. It’s just common courtesy and it can make someone else’s day a lot easier.
12. Don’t Interrupt People When They Are Talking
When someone is speaking, especially when they’re sharing their thoughts or feelings, it’s important not to interrupt.
Think about how it feels when someone interrupts you or talks over you. It can be very frustrating and disrespectful, right?
The same goes for others!
13. Make Eye Contact (But Look Away Too)
For people with social anxiety, looking at another person directly in the eyes can feel uncomfortable. What you want to do is try to find the golden middle ground.
It means trying not to avoid eye contact completely, but also attempting not to stare someone down either.
You can accomplish this by shifting your gaze every 2-3 seconds.
14. Don’t Ignore Grief (or Good News)
When someone is sharing something important with you, whether it’s good news or bad, try to be present and engaged.
What that means is don’t just give them a half-hearted “that sucks” before moving on to another topic.
What would happen if the roles were reversed? Would you want your friend or loved one to do that to you?
15. If You See a Stranger Struggling, Help Them Out
If you are at the grocery store, for example, and you see an older person trying to reach something on a high shelf, offer your assistance.
Say, “Can I get that for you?”
16. Bring Food to People You Know Who Are Struggling
If someone you know has just lost a loved one or is experiencing some other hardship, bring them a meal.
A kind gesture like a pot of soup or a casserole can go a long way.
Don’t assume the person has anyone else to bring them food and don’t think you have to do it for weeks on end.
17. Don’t Use Your Phone at Dinner
There is nothing more annoying than sitting with someone who won’t put their phone away during dinner. Don’t place your phone on the table. Turn it off or put it on silent and leave it in your purse or pocket.
18. Don’t Talk About Politics or Religion
Sometimes it’s unavoidable and fine to discuss politics or religion. But unless you know the person extremely well, avoid these topics at all costs.
What seems like a harmless conversation can be emotionally charged for some people and lead to discomfort and awkwardness.
19. Don’t Ask If Someone Is Pregnant (or Comment on Their Body at All)
Whether you know the person or not, don’t ask if someone is pregnant or comment on their body.
It’s considered rude and invasive of privacy.
What may seem like a compliment could make the other person uncomfortable; unless it’s your close friend, keep those thoughts to yourself.
20. Bring a Housewarming Gift
If you are invited to a housewarming party (of someone you know), bring a gift such as wine, chocolates, or flowers.
It is thoughtful and considerate of the host to provide food and drink for their guests; offering something from your own pantry shows that you appreciate this gesture more than just showing up empty-handed.
21. Dress for the Occasion
While it’s fine to have your own personal style, you should always dress appropriately for the occasion.
What does this mean?
For formal events, you’ll want to wear a suit or at least something nice; while less formal parties may allow more casual clothing.
22. Don’t Streak Text
If you are texting someone, don’t send a series of texts without waiting for a reply.
What does this look like?
If you’ve had an ongoing conversation, it’s okay to send a couple texts in a row. What is not OK is if you begin texting out of the blue with a string of texts without waiting for them to reply first.
23. Focus on Your Conversation Partner
While it’s okay to glance away quickly during a conversation, staring off into space or worse, at another person or conversation signals that you are not engaged.
Think about if you’re talking with someone and they begin staring off into the distance as if their mind has wandered elsewhere; how does it make you feel? It’s impolite and comes across as rude or that you are not interested.
24. Don’t Put People On The Spot
At a social gathering, don’t put people on the spot if they are not comfortable. What does this look like?
This means that you should avoid asking personal questions or making divisive comments.
It can be awkward when someone asks a question that puts another person on the spot or makes them the unwanted center of attention (social anxiety trigger, anyone?).
Just don’t do it.
25. When You Introduce Someone, Pay Them a Compliment
If you are the first person to introduce two people, it is your responsibility to make that introduction memorable and endearing.
What does this mean?
You need to find a point of commonality where possible (they both like listening to classical music) or compliment something unique about each individual.
26. If Someone Asks You a Question, Finish with “And You?”
This is one of the most important unwritten rules. What does this mean?
If someone asks you, “Where are you from?” don’t just give your answer and move on. Finish with a question for them (e.g., “I’m actually originally from London; where abouts in Scotland are you from?”).
27. Don’t Criticize People for Doing Things That Make Them Happy (If They Don’t Hurt Anyone Else)
What does this mean? What are the unwritten rules you should follow when meeting someone new and they tell you about a hobby or interest that may seem “weird”? Let them be. If it makes them happy, then let them do whatever their heart desires, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else of course!
The unwritten social rules I’ve covered will help you stay on the right side of etiquette and avoid any uncomfortable or embarrassing situations.
If these tips sound helpful to you, please share this blog post with your friends and family so they can learn about some of the unspoken social norms that may be holding back their career or personal life. You never know who might need a gentle nudge in the right direction!
Have any other ideas for what are the unwritten social rules everyone should know? Share them below in the comments section; I would love to hear from you.
Related Posts about Social Anxiety
- 17 Things Nobody Realizes Social Anxiety Makes You Do
- 50 Things to Do to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
- 41 Things You Should Never Say to a Person with Social Anxiety
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