The original etiquette manuals of Western civilization were in fact success manuals. They taught knights and nobles how to conduct themselves in the court of the king—which is where we get the concepts of “courtly” and “courtesy.”

  1. Texting “Hey, I’m running 20 minutes late” is not as acceptable as making the effort to be on time.

  2. If you can’t attend an event that you’re formally invited to, don’t think that to not RSVP is the same as declining. And don’t RSVP at the last minute for an event that involves real planning by the host.
  3. Don’t RSVP for an event, then not show. Now you’re not just being rude, but you’re costing the host money, and you’ve probably kept a lonely soul from being invited as a backup.
  4. Turn off the phone at a dinner party, and be in the moment. You’re annoying at least one person who thinks you have no social skills. At bare minimum, turn off the ringer so you can text and conspire in relative stealth.
  5. Remember that if you feel a need to respond immediately to every incoming text, you’ll lose more in the eyes of the person who’s in front of you than you’ll gain from the unseen people who are benefiting from your efficiency.
  6. Don’t bellow on your mobile phone. Just because you can’t hear the other person well doesn’t mean the other person can’t hear you well.
  7. Don’t be the first or second person to talk on your cell phone in a public space (like a bus or train). If everyone’s doing it, you’re allowed some slack here.
  8. Keep personal conversations and arguments off social networking sites.
  9. Moderate your use of cameras and video at events. Enjoy your time with colleagues, friends and family in the present and preserve only a memento for the future, rather than recording the entire thing to “relive” later in some “free” time that you’ll never actually have.
  10. Remember how easily e-gossip can be forwarded along to the wrong person.
  11. Don’t discuss sensitive personal issues on Facebook, especially if you’ve friended coworkers.
  12. Just because you’re wearing headphones doesn’t mean you can tune out from social courtesies. For example, if you accidentally cross someone’s personal space, apologise graciously.
  13. Don’t say, “I’m having a party. Bring your own food and drink.” That’s not a party.
  14. If you’ve been invited to an event, be reluctant to ask for an upper ceiling on how many friends and relatives you can bring.
  15. Don’t make your dietary requirements everyone else’s dilemma. As one friend reminds me, “People who can eat dairy don’t just keep coconut oil-based butter around.
  16. Don’t show up at a party empty-handed, unless you’ve been instructed to — and sometimes not even then.