Don’t just look like a gent — act the part with these five essential etiquette tips
1. Phone Alone
It used to be the height of rudeness to take or make a call, send or receive a text or check the new-fangled Facebook on your phone when in the company of other actual human beings. Guess what? It still is. But we get it—the speed of modern life means sometimes you have to use your device. Fair enough: but modern etiquette dictates you have the decency to apologise, excuse yourself, be quick about your communications and return pronto. Remember: by giving your attention to your device, you’re sending a clear message to the person you’re with that they’re of secondary importance. Best thing to do: keep your phone off or on silent and check it only when they are natural breaks in the conversation, such as when waiting for your companion to return from the bathroom. Ask yourself: how often are you checking your phone just for the sake of it? Exactly. Unless your first name is Barack there’s a good chance you can miss a call or read a text later.
2. Do Unto Wait Staff
How do you expect bartenders and waiter to treat you? With friendly respect, right? Well, do the same. They’re people, earning a living, often under difficult and high-pressured circumstances, and most often doing their best to keep you happy. So they don’t deserve to be treated rudely, condescendingly or dismissively, any more than you do in your workplace. Use the same manners you would with your boss and be appreciative of their efforts. If you have a query or a complaint, raise it in a friendly and rational manner. If you happen to get blowback, ask to see a superior rather than pull out any “I pay your wages!” bullshit. By acting like the “big man” you’re guaranteed to come off looking small.
3. Don’t Be A Speechmaker
Conversation means talking with someone rather than at them. There are few things ruder than sitting down with a partner, mate, colleague or even perfect stranger at a party and then proceeding to act like Donald Trump at the podium. We get it: you know a lot and you’ve got opinions. That’s fine: but so does everyone else. By listening and asking questions you demonstrate gentlemanly respect for the other sentient beings sharing your planet. You might even learn a thing or two. Let’s face it: you can’t learn a helluva lot by listening to your own voice, which is why Trump is such a dumbarse.
4. Eat Like A Grown Up
Do you which cutlery goes with which dish? Which side your glass is on? What to do with a bread roll? If you don’t, then take the time to learn. There’s no shortage of websites and books that break down these rules simply. But beyond that, and in less formal situations, use common sense. Don’t eat while you walk. Don’t eat with your mouth open. Don’t slurp your drinks. Don’t tilt a soup bowl to your mouth. Don’t burp and let off a fart and then make a joke about it showing appreciation for the chef. If sharing a meal with clients or colleagues, obey corporate dining etiquette, which means avoiding very personal subjects like religion and politics and not talking business until the mains arrive.
5. Don’t Groom On The Go
Proper man maintenance is essential. But etiquette forbids you from showing the world how you keep yourself looking good. So, for heaven’s sake, and the sake of stomachs around you, refrain from grooming in public. That means you don’t shave in your car, clean your ears on the bus, use a flossing stick on the train or trim your nails at your desk. You’re never too far from a bathroom with a mirror: so do what you have to do in private. If you pick your nose in public, you might as well move into Taronga Zoo’s monkey enclosure.