"Good breeding consists in concealing how much we think of ourselves and how little we think of the other person." – Mark Twain
On the phone
We all know that talking on a mobile phone while driving – if you don't have a hands-free device – is illegal, but there are other habits that need to be modified too.
1. Always switch your cellphone off before entering a darkened cinema. Despite the clever ads urging patrons to practise polite cellphone manners, there are still those who forget to toe the line.
2. Do not shout into your cellphone in public places.
3. If you own a camera phone, don't take pictures of people without asking.
4. Choose a non-irritating ring tone and ringing volume. Do not subject acquaintances and co-workers to the strains of "The Ketchup Song".
5. It's impolite to call or SMS before 7am and after 9pm. Some people use cellphones as alarm clocks, so don't send text messages late at night, because you will risk waking them.
6. Switch off your phone when you go into a meeting or function, or switch it to silent.
7. Don't SMS invites, regardless of how informal the occasion. Rather make the call and extend the invitation in person.
There are rules of good conduct that apply to this relatively new tool too.
1. E-mails are not always appropriate replacements for a handwritten note of thanks, especially in formal occasions
such as after a wedding.
2. Always fill in the subject line of e-mails to make the contents clear.
3. Do not forward offensive messages, jokes or chain letters.
4. E-mail should not be used as a platform to criticise or insult. Problems are best sorted out face to face.
5. Use concise mailing lists in the office and resist the urge to send e-mail unnecessarily.
In the lift
Move over road rage, because lift rage is bound to erupt sooner or later, especially among office workers who have to jostle for space in one of these badly ventilated boxes. Bad lift behaviour to avoid includes:
1. Pushing your way into the lift before the occupants have had a chance to get out;
2. Using the lift to travel up or down a single floor − it's not only lazy, but also rather irritating;
3. Talking loudly on your cellphone;
4. Having a loud conversation with another person in the lift, over the heads of the other occupants; and
5. Invading the personal space of other lift users by standing too close to them.
At the table
Dining is no longer subject to the rigid constraints of years gone by, and although formal occasions still call for a degree of pomp and ceremony, everyday gatherings around the table are a lot more relaxed. You still need to exercise good manners though. Here are some tips to bear in mind:
1. Don't double dip. Fellow nibblers cannot be blamed for being mightily offended if you dip a cracker in the guacamole, take a bite and then dip it in again.
2. Never ask for a doggy bag when dining at someone's home.
3. Never light a cigarette or cigar while others are still eating.
4. If there is a left-handed person at the table with you, let them sit at the head of the table or on the left-hand side.
5. Do not conduct cellphone conversations or send or read text messages while at the table with others. Rather excuse yourself from the table and take the call outside.
6. Keep handbags, keys and purses off the table.
7. Start using silverware from the outside in and remember that your bread or salad plate is placed to the left of your dinner plate, while glasses are placed to the right.
8. If you need to get up during the meal, leave your napkin on your chair and not on the table.