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24 Life Rules That Smart People Always Follow

It can often seem as if niceties and manners are a bit antiquated, or practiced by people who tend to be the slightest bit superior and snobby.

The truth is, though, that they were developed for a reason, and following rules like these 24 can help you navigate life around other people just a little bit easier.

24. Shield your lemon.

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If you’re squeezing a lemon into your drink or onto your food, use your hand to shield the spray from your dining companion.

23. Don’t eat until everyone has been served.

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If you’re out to eat or dining at home with eight or fewer guests, you’ll want to wait until everyone’s plate has been delivered before picking up your fork.

If there are more than eight people, you still don’t want to sit down first or second and dig in; wait until several people are seated before you begin.

22. Dab before you drink.

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If you’ve already had food in your mouth and then need a drink (out or at a friend’s house), dab your mouth with a napkin to avoid transferring food particles to the rim of the glass.

21. Certain items don’t belong on the table.

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If it’s not food or decoration, it shouldn’t be on the table.

This includes your keys, bags, sunglasses, and phones, all of which are probably rife with bacteria.

20. Don’t be greedy with food.

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If someone asks for a bowl or the salt to be passed, don’t intercept it and use it first. It’s basically like cutting in line.

19. Put down your phone.

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You’re dining with companions, and so if you absolutely need to be on your phone for some reason, you should excuse yourself first just as you would to go to the restroom.

18. Pass to the right.

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Food is always passed counterclockwise, though if the person to your immediate left asks for something within your reach, you can hand it directly to them.

17. How to politely refuse a drink.

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There’s an odd stigma in American society regarding adults who choose to abstain from alcohol, but there’s no need to make a big deal out of it if that’s your decision.

You can just place your fingertips on the rim of your glass and say “not today, thanks.”

This avoids others thinking you’re judging their choice to partake.

16. Don’t ask for leftovers.

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At least, don’t do it if you’re at a business lunch or dinner.

If you’re out with friends or family – or at the home of someone who offers – feel free.

15. Let people know if they’re on speakerphone.

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This is generally a rule that always applies to work – you shouldn’t use the speakerphone there unless you’re in the office and someone is attending the call remotely.

It’s a rule that family and friends will likely appreciate you following as well.

14. Respect your boss (or quit).

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Leave your personal devices at your desk if you’re going to a meeting. You can apply this rule to meals and meetings with friends and family, too.

13. Always hold the door.

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If you grab a door handle and there is someone behind you, hold it.

Yes, regardless of gender.

12. State your name when answering professional calls.

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If you’re answering the phone at work, it’s proper to state your name and the place of business.

11. No, don’t put that in the microwave.

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I would hope we would all know that fish in the community microwave is a big no-no.

There are others, too, so make yourself aware.

10. Keep those voicemails brief.

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No one likes listening to voicemails, so not only is it annoying to leave a long one, the other person probably won’t listen to it all anyway.

So keep it brief.

9. Take turns at the airport.

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Patience is the key here, because no one is getting on or off the plane any faster by crowding the people around them.

Be ready when it’s your turn to board or gather your luggage and depart so you can keep the aisles as clear as possible, but don’t stand and loiter when there are still 10 rows still waiting to get off ahead of you.

Likewise, while collecting your bags at baggage claim, stand back until you see your luggage. Then step forward, retrieve it, and move quickly out of the way.

8. People get off before you get on.

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Elevators are much the same – wait to see if anyone needs to get off before you rush to board.

7. Avoid clogging people’s inboxes.

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If you don’t have anything important to say, just don’t email. There are also times when an in-person, app, or text message would be the better choice.

6. Status can matter at work.

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It might rub you the wrong way, but when you’re introducing two people you should go with the higher ranking individual first.

5. Keep your phone in your pocket.

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Seriously, looking at your phone while talking to someone else is akin to interrupting them to answer another person’s questions.

Just keep it in your pocket if the temptation is too great.

4. Use the silent option on your phone.

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No one wants to hear your ring tone, and that goes double for any calls or alarms that get set off when you’re not around to silence them.

Keeping it on silent mode as often as possible is your best bet.

3. Avoid the Caps Lock.

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It’s going to seem like you’re shouting.

Other things to avoid: colored fonts, clip-art, emoticons, large file attachments, and forwarding anything that’s supposed to be private.

2. Stay home when you’re sick.

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This was true before the recent pandemic and it’s even truer now – the entire office will thank you for not spreading your germs.

1. Maintain a work-life balance.

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You should also help others do the same by waiting to send texts and/or emails about business until an hour before the workday begins and up to two hours after the end of a shift.

Most of these should be pretty easy to adopt (or continue), don’t you think?

What little rule of etiquette is a pet peeve of yours? Tell us in the comments!