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Common Courtesies and Common Sense

by Joy Weaver

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Common Courtesies and Common Sense As I travel the country speaking and teaching companies and organizations to play hardball with their soft skills, I am frequently asked, what is it that bothers me mostly when it comes to people who have bad manners? My reply is always the same, I am not bothered by those who do not know the basic rules of etiquette, because there is a good chance they were never taught. In their case, how do you know what you don’t know? That excuse stands to reason. But what does jump up and down on my very last nerve is people of all ages simply not using common courtesies and common sense when dealing with others. Just think about the impact our actions have on others – it is our choice to make them positive and not negative.

Here is a list of simple common courtesies that are overlooked on a regular basis:
  • Texting while someone is talking to you. Whether it is face to face, during meetings, in worship services, weddings, or funerals – turn off the text toy. I see it all the time and yes, it makes me crazy. How rude!
  • And while we are at it - it does not take a rocket scientist to know that we must turn the ringers off on our cell phone when we go into a public place. I have witnessed cell phones ringing at weddings, funerals and worse than that – the person answered the phone and carried on a conversation. We must remember to turn cell phones on manner mode (silent/vibrate) in all public places.
  • We need not be taught to respond to party invitations. It is a no-brainer: The invitation tells us all about the event and then blatantly asks us if we are attending or not. It is very impolite not to respond one way or the other. It is very common for only 10% to respond. And worse than this, many who do not respond attend anyway and some will even bring a friend.  We should not have to call those who are invited, but it is perfectly acceptable to contact those who have not responded to ask if they received the invitation and if they will be attending.
  • Another sad offense is those who never say thank-you for a gift. I’m not even talking about a thank-you note. How many of us have given a gift and never received a verbal thank you, a note, email, or telephone call. I have hurtful stories – don’t make me go there!
  • Being late – is unacceptable. Be on time! This is not an etiquette rule – it is common sense and common courtesy. Responsible people are on-timers.
  • Coughing and sneezing without covering your mouth is just disgusting. Not just kids, but adults do it too. Remember: when coughing, sneezing & yawning, cover thy mouth with your left hand. – it’s your personal hand. Your right hand is your social hand.  No one wants to shake hands with someone who has just coughed into his or her right hand.
  • Many have never been taught the rules of navigating the dining table and I understand that: But another common sense point I’m just sure every mother taught their child is: Chew with your mouth closed. I am amazed at adults who talk with food in their mouth – this is just uncivilized.  (By the way, our bread plate is located on the left, and our drink is always on our right. Many do not know we work from the outside inward when using our silverware.)
  • The rude person who does not lift a hand to wave thank you to the nice driver who lets them in traffic is selfish and disrespectful.  Anytime someone lets you over – wave thank-you to them. It is easy!
  • There is no excuse for those who pick their teeth in public with a toothpick, or crunch on ice in a meeting or in the movies.
We must examine our own common courtesies and work on changing ourselves to be the very best that we can be. We must set an example for others and teach our children common sense, and in turn … we will change the world – together!
Joy Weaver is a renowned etiquette expert and author of “Just Ask Joy… How to Be Socially Savvy in All Situations”—a book highly endorsed by Jean and Zig Ziglar. Joy represents designer Joseph Ribkoff and is a regular guest on ABC’s Good Morning Texas. She is nationally published and has been featured on ABC’s The View, in the Associated Press, New York Times, USA Today, Southern Living Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and The Dallas Business Journal. Protocol Enterprises/Just Ask Joy is based in Dallas and has served clients across the country since 2000. You can learn more at

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