Unspoken social rules and why you should follow them


Today in society there are many rules, maybe more now than ever before as we seem to add more and more without reviewing or removing old ones. You can see this with laws also like some of the crazy and wacky ones that still exist in some countries here are some examples. Written laws and rules aside there have always been a long list of unspoken social or courtesy rules that exist however sadly not everyone is always aware of them. In this article ill go over some of what i believe to be the most important unspoken social rules that everybody should follow.



1. Don’t call someone more than twice continuosuly unless its really urgent.

Today more than ever, myself included, people don’t like answering random phone calls. It seems people are doing more and are as busy as every and though what used to be a thing of great convenience, being able to call anyone anywhere at any moment, it has today become something of a rude or unnecessary action to most. To answer a call without warning means you may have to pull away from whatever task you are doing at that moment. You might be in a deep state of focus on your work, driving a car, having lunch with a friend, at the gym there are a tonne of things you could be doing and being expected to drop it all at a moments notice for the convinence of someone else just does not make sense anymore particulary when the message could be conveyed over txt or email. So if you do really need to speak to someone dont call more than twice, they have most likely seen that you are trying to call and they could as afore mentioned be occupied or worse they could be sleeping, in hospital or something much more important going on. If you have already tried to call dont do so more than twice. They will have seen it and will get back to you when they can. Or better yet send them a message asking them if you can call. This way they can prepare and grant you the time needed to talk.


2. If you borrow money from someone return it, even before they ask.

We all know just asking for money can be a very uncomfortable experiance. Even more uncomfortable is asking for money back from someone that you lent it to. If someone has lent you money they have done you a big favour. The last thing you should do is make them wait and wonder when or even if you might pay it back. So here are a few tips. If you need to borrow money for someone you should give them a good reason for why you need it and why borrowing it is the only option you have. Specify the amount and also the time frame of which you will pay it back. Then you should pay it back before this time and well before they need to ask for it. Having to ask for money from someone that borrowed it is very uncomfortable and you might agree that most peope wont and will perhaps accept that the money is gone along with a large chunk of trust in that person. A mental note is usually made not to lend money to that person again. So do your best to pay it back promtly and not make someone have to ask for it.



3. When someone treats you to lunch dont select the most expensive thing on the menu.

You might have seen this happen. You are out for lunch with a couple friends and someone offers to pay. “its on me” an extremely kind gesture. What is not kind is an individual seeing this as an oopportunty to exploit. “oh well if you are paying ill get the rib eye” ha. ha. If someone offers to pay for your lunch or dinner dont view it as an opportunity to score a free expensive meal. Yes they have offered to pay and you are well within your rights. But going straight to the top (or bottom) of the menu and simply selecting he most expensive item purely because you are not the one paying will come off as rude. Be modest and gracious. Discuss what everyone else might have and choose something that you might have gotten given you were having to cover your own bill. Along with this also be sure to take a mental not and ensure that next time you are the one to grab the check. This is a kind for of reprocity that if done correctly can paint you in a good light. I imagine if you jump at the opportunity to splurge on someone elses wallet you may not be invited to many more lunches after that. Bonus tip if there is one last piece of food, dont snatch it up. Leave it for the person who paid.



4. Treat everyone with kindness.

This one can be a huge tell of what kind of person you are. Always treat everyone with kindness and respect. Particularly waiters, cleaners, drivers staff etc. All to common is the scene of someone talking down or disrespectfully to a waiter or receptionist for whatever reason. People that differentiate these people from say a high status CEO, business partner or friend immidiatly out themselves. Regardless of someones position or job at any given time you should always treat people equally and with respect. Someone that speaks to you kindly at the dinner table at a resturant but then speaks abrutly or rude to the waiter is someone that has postisioned themselve above someone else, they think they are better and therefor can treat people differetnly. The problem with this is that if you were not dinning with them and pehaps worked there you can see that they would have no problem being rude to you if you were that in position. Speak to and treat everyone with the same respect. It will show alot about the kind of person you are.



5. Always hold the door for the person behind you.

This is no longer or perhaps never was just about being a gentleman to the ladies. No matter where you are or what you are doin how much of a rush you might think you are in. If someone is coming behind you infront of you, maybe carrying boxes or other items. Hold the door for them. This is a true act of kindness because you dont have to hold the door. You are choosing to. The more you do this the more you might find others do it. Imagine if everyone were to hold the door or elevator for each other. How nice that would be. Flash a smile, recieve a nod and a thank you. This is a simple and easy way to show some charactor. Even if the “important” person infront of you chose not to do it for you. Don’t let that deter you. Hold the door. Old, young, guy or girl holding the door is an long time act of chilvalry add it to your everyday.



6. Always split taxis.

Taxis and private transport can be expensive even for short trips. If you and your friend are going somewhere they might offer to pay. This can usually same time and keep things simple. Though you should always offer to split the taxi if they do happen to pay. As before with the lunch example be sure you take a mental note and you are the one to pay next time. Or perhaps grab the first round at the bar.



7. Respect different opinions.

There is an old cartoon of the number 6 (or 9) painted on the ground with a person standing on either side. If you can picture it from one side it will appreat as a 6 and from the other it will appear as a 9. Is someone wrong? is the other right? It does not really matter. Hard facts aside, well even then sometimes. Things can be seen differerntly by different people for different reasons. The way they interperet thiings the way they were raised, their core beliefs. Getting into an argument trying to prove someone wrong in a battle of egos will never benefit anyone. Respect other peoples opions and that people see things differently. See this as a space to grow and learn. Talk openly about perscetives and beliefs in an unjudgmental way. If you cant agree on something thats ok. Accept that you see things doffeetnly respect their opinion in the same way you would like them to respect yours. This will prevent you from being seen as someone that is confrontational and you will become more understanding and you might even learn something.



8. Dont interrupt others while they are talking.

Interupting someone is just rude, and it also shows that you are not really listening to what they have to say. When people are speaking, listen wait patiently then when there is a break you can say your piece. Do not try to speak over someone or cut them off before the are finished. You might also find that when you stop trying to jump in with what you have to say that you will be able to listen and absorb better and usually this will help a conversation flow better. You will also make the other person feel heard and they will appreciate you in a better light than someone that may have been trying to talk overthem constantly.



9. If you tease someone and they don’t seem to enjoy it, stop and dont do it again.

Teasing and poking fun can be a normal part of a friendship, flirting or even building rapour with new people. Although usually light hearted it can be very easy for people to be offended or turned off by these things. Remember to avoid teasing someone about things they cannot change such as their physical appearence. Light hearted and playful teasing can be find but if someone clearly does not like the it you should immidiatly stop and even apologise and state that you wont do it again. Some people may feel uncomfortable with the confrontation and actually tease more when this happens but it is not the way to do things. If someone is clearly uncomfortable just stop. You are not postitioning yourself above them or being alpha by continually teasing and talking down to someone. Remember be kind and treat others the same way you expect to be treated.



10. Don’t break promises, particlually with yourself.

The best way to avoid this is not to make promises you cant keep in the first place. Breaking promises even simple ones that you think might not matter will shine a light on you as both being untrustworthy and unrealiable. Both undesirable traits to have. When you tell someone you will be somewhere or do something and you promise it to them make sure you do it. Alot of the time after the fact we may not feel like going to that event or seeing that person or helping them move. But if you have mad a promise you have a responsibility to them and to yourself. You should go out of your way to see it through and if at all you learn something it may be to not overstreach or promise too much ahead of time. You also need to keep your promises to yourself. Its all to easy to say that we will get up early and go to the gym and promise this to ourselves. Everytime we break these promises no matter how small we are teaching ourselves that our word is not respected and that we ourselves are unrealiable for even small tasks. This can quickly form into a bad habit with very little visible concequenses initially. So remember to keep your promises to yourself and others or dont make them in the first place.



11. If someone tells you a secret, keep it.

“dont tell anyone i told you, keep it a secret” heard this before ? I think we all have. In line with keeping promises keeping secrets is an important skill you can have. When someone tells you a secret they are allowing you into a part of them, a peice of information they may very well not want anyone else to know about and when you agree to keep the secret you are entering into an agreement with them. Its all to easy and obvious to see when someone hasnt kept their mouth closed. The person may have only told you and when it comes back from someone else its clear right away what happened. They wont trust you again and this will reflect badly on you. If you were to tell someone a secret and it came back in a similar way you can imagine or you must even already know how it feels. When someone tells you a secret keep it with you even if you hear it from someone else this is not reason to release it. Maintain your intergrity as a person and a friend.



12. Be on time.

For alot of people time is money. Making specific appointment times and not keeping them might be ok for you but you might really be putting someone else out. Just because you have a relaxed day and dont have pressing matters does not mean others dont. If you make a set time to meet someone you should keep it and even be early. You never know if they moved a meeting or a call for you, have allotted a set amount of time that you may push over by being late. Be puntual and be know for being on time. Take time management and particularly other peoples time seriouly and treat it with respect.



13. If you borrow someones car, be sure to return it full of fuel and clean.

I grew up in a small town and things like this were common place and taught to me very young, when i moved away from home to travel and persure various careers i was somewhat shocked when lending out my car. A car is not a small or cheap asset for most people and you are sometimes putting yourself at an inconvenience and really helping someone out when you let them borrow it, free of charge. Its a nice gesture that can strengthen friendships however too many times i notice that people would use and return the car as if it was not apprecitate. It would be dirty and the tank would be empty. I was taught and still believe that if you borrow someones car the very least you can do is return it with a full tank of petrol. Its not only the monetary value of the fuel. Its the time and effort of going to a station to fill it. Returning a car full and clean says “thank you, i really appreciate you letting me borrow your car and that you trusted me with it” even if they didnt expect it let be something that you do. After all its much better than walking or taking the bus.



14. If someone is speaking to you give them your attention.

You see it everywhere and we might all unfortunatly be guilty of it. Finishing off a quick txt message, a light scroll between flashing our eyes up to theirs. If you have ever been on the speaking end of trying to have a converstation with someone while they are for example on their phone you know exactly what im talking about. You feel unimportant and unheard. Our phones are always with us but no matter how quick or easy it is to multitask if someone is talking to you, turn and face them, put down your phone and grant them your full attention in they same way you might expect it if you were the one with something to say.



15. Dont make plans infront of those you are not willing to invite.

“what are you guys talking about” “the party this weekend” followed by an awkward silence as the realization that you are clearly not invited falls. Making plans is fun and talking about them can be fun to. If you are in company that you know are not invited to, or you dont intent to invite to an event do your best to hold off talking about it infront of them. You will only make others feel uncomfortable and awkward. Check your surroundings before speaking about events and parties. And its almost worse to get a lulled “you can come if you want” when you clearly are not wanted there. Its awkward for everyone.



16. Don’t whisper infront of other people.

You might remember being told this as a kid, not to whisper as its rude and maybe back then we didnt understand so much and unfortunately today even alot of people still dont. Regardless of what you are saying or who you are saying it about. Whispering infront of people will make them uncomfortable and make them think you are either talking about them or obviously dont want them to hear what you are saying. If you have ever been witness to this you will understand the feeling. If you really need to tell someone something with urgency go for a short walk or just wait till you have some privacy. Whispering infront of others is rude.



17. If you go to someones house for dinner be sure to wash the dishes.

“The cook doesnt clean” another lasting rule that rings in my ears from childhood. The best way to understand these rules is putting yourself in the postion of the person it benefits. Imagine you have invited all your friends over for dinner, spent all day buying, preparing and cooking a large amount of delicious food togerther. They come over you all enjoy then as quick as they came they leave and you are left with a messy kitchen and a pile of dishes. That would suck. How nice however if after all this 2-3 of your friends jump up and start to clean and tidy and put everything away. Before you finish your wine everything is done and you can all relax. This is true team work. Now the shoe is on the other foot. You go to your friends place for dinner they have baught, cooked and prepard everything. You eat your fill and now what. Well you should get up and even at their insistance not to you should help to clean, tidy and wash up. Even if people like to entertain the cleaning up is the least fun. So be kind and considerate you have been invited over and fed the least you can do is help to clean up and if a couple of you pitch in it can be quick, easy and even sometimes fun. You will all be able to sit back down and relax much quicker to enjoy the evening. Then ofcourse should you host next time, without any expectation ofcourse, you can almost predict that you will get some help with tidying up. Its polite and kind. Help do the dishes if you were not the one that cooked.



18. Dont use speaker phone to have a 2 person conversation uneccassarily.

You are in a public place and you can hear someone shouting into their phone and someone through the speaker shouting back. You look around there are people around staring. The person on the phone has both hands free. Is this needed? I dont think so. Unless you are unable to use your hands or headphones for whatever reason there is really no reason to be having a loud, overt call for everyone around you to hear. Even in a public place there is still some level of consideration to be made. Particularly on public transport. If you need to talk a call on speaker for whatever reason move away from other people. We dont need to hear all your plans.



Some of these “rules” might be obvious to you and some might not. Not everyone is brought up the same and thats ok. Our differences make us who we are. However these somewhat unspoken social rules if followed will help you to be a more kind and considerate person. Not get on peoples nerves, perhaps prevent some of those nasty public glares or just have you invited back over for dinner again and again. Remember to always be kind and considerate and do your best to openly communicate. If you are unsure of something ask your friends they might have a simple answer for you, it might have been one of these rules you missed.



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