6 Common Courtesy Rules Every Southerner Should Know

Easy, everyday rules that make the world a little bit more pleasant.

Two young women talking in living room
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Growing up, we're taught about the Golden Rule, waiting your turn, and other important etiquette guidelines. As we age, it's useful to have a refresher on some of these key common courtesy rules and to remind ourselves why everyday courtesies are so important in our daily lives.

"The goal is to be kind, gracious, effective communicators," explains Avery Johnson, founder of The Southern Academy of Etiquette. "Common courtesy is a powerful start to building better relationships, effective communication, and simply spreading kindness."

Here are a few common courtesy rules all Southerners should keep in mind:

Be Respectful When You're in Someone Else's Home

When you're entering someone's home, ask if they would like you to remove your shoes before you step inside, says Elaine Swann, a lifestyle and etiquette expert and founder of the Swann School of Protocol. Don't forget to bring a small hostess gift, like a bottle of wine, with you.

As you're enjoying that dinner or party at someone's house, Swann encourages you to be mindful of the hostess's privacy. While you may have no qualms about showing your home's interior on social media, not everyone shares this same level of comfort.

"If you're going to take photos or videos while in someone else's home, be mindful of the amount of the home that you're sharing. Try to keep your photo or video cropped so you're just depicting yourself and whoever's in the photo with you and not the interior of the home, artwork, or family photos on the walls," Swann says.

Make a Strong First Impression

Johnson says it's important to greet people with a smile and a firm handshake, and to give eye contact when someone is speaking to you. Don't forget to use basic manners, including "please" "thank you" and "excuse me." Whenever possible, make it a point to learn someone's first name. "It makes others feel special," she explains.

Don't Get Too Comfortable at the Office

Whether you're back in the office full-time or are working off of a hybrid model, Swann advises you to remember that your office is not your home and shouldn't be treated as such.

"Be mindful of the footprint that you bring into the office. Don't schlep all of your stuff in. When you're in the restroom, don't overdo it with primping in the mirror. Just remember, it's not your home away from home, it is a place of business. Respect the workspace," Swann says.

Steer Clear of Workplace Gossip

Part of respecting your workplace means making it a comfortable place to do business. Though gossiping with co-workers may seem like a light-hearted way to pass the time, Johnson says avoiding gossip is an important common courtesy rule that Southerners should keep in mind.

"It's important to speak kindly about others and to protect your character. Participating in gossip isn't a power move. Gossip isn't an asset to your life," she says.

She also encourages you to be mindful of excessive complaining and negative talk while at work.

Respect the Rules of Events

Whether it's your friend's luau birthday party or a tea party baby shower, if you're invited to an event with a theme, follow the rules, Swann says. This means if you're asked to wear certain attire, do so whenever possible. Make it a point to arrive on time and remember that if the invitation you receive doesn't specifically state that you have a plus one, it means the invitation is just for you.

Use Technology Respectfully

"It's essential to take advantage of in-person connections," Johnson says. This means putting your phone away when you're spending time with loved ones or colleagues in-person. If an important phone call comes through, Johnson explains that you should first excuse yourself and step away from the group before conducting your conversation.

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