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13 Etiquette Rules That Should Be Taught in Schools—but Aren’t

Learning proper etiquette is a life skill.

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Etiquette rules in and out of school

Etiquette rules have been around for centuries, but etiquette around technology in school is relatively new. There are a variety of skills that have fallen out of the education curriculum that should be brought back, like knowing how to give a proper handshake and when to use cameras respectfully. “While our kids quickly take to learning math problems on the latest gadgets at school, the same might not be said for the most essential life skills of etiquette,” Courtney Fadler, founder of professional etiquette service CF Etiquette, told Reader’s Digest. Read on to review a few etiquette rules that should be taught in schools but aren’t. Etiquette lessons begin at home, and here are 17 forgotten manners every parent should teach their child.

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Face-to-face interactions

While many conversations have shifted to online messaging and texts, knowing how to interact in-person is still important. “One of the biggest things I hear from businesses who need help with training for new, young associates is a lack of interpersonal skills, polish and a too-casual approach to the business setting,” says Fadler. “We have become more connected through devices, yet simultaneously more remote on actual face-to-face conversations and interactions. While our kids quickly take to learning math problems on the latest gadgets at school, the same might not be said for the most essential life skills of etiquette.”  These are the 13 texting etiquette rules you should know by now.

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Conversation skills

Knowing how to hold a conversation isn’t only for adults—it’s good for children to know, too. “This is a big one and highly requested. This skill is lacking due to our overuse of devices,” Lisa Richey, president and founder of Mannerstogo.com, tells Reader’s Digest. “Students are not engaging in conversation with other children or adults. It is one of my most requested topics from corporations.” This skill not only helps children when they’re young but when they graduate from university and look for a job as well. “New-hires are not entering the business world knowing how to interact with co-workers or clients,” she says. “Standards need to be set in the classroom to encourage a human connection and interaction. We need to start this now and when children are young.” Speaking of conversation skills, here are 11 things to never say at work.

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How to use a cell phone in class…and everyday life

“Basic manners and etiquette rules apply to technology use as well. Young people need to understand that when they are in the presence of others it’s important to put their phone away and take earbuds out,” Arden Clise, president of Clise Etiquette and author of Spinach in Your Boss’s Teeth: Essential Etiquette for Professional Success, told Reader’s Digest. “This shows respect and interest in the other person. Additionally, when digital devices are put away, children get the opportunity to practice eye contact, listening, and conversation skills.”

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Learn how to give a proper handshake

When meeting someone new, whether a teacher, friend, or a business associate, it’s good to shake someone’s hand. Richey says that handshakes and greetings “develop leadership and instills self-confidence in students and provides a human connection in our world of devices.”

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Knowing how to behave in situations

It’s important for children—and people of all ages—to know how to read a situation and how to act accordingly. “Behaving appropriately can help you succeed in reaching your goals,” says the National Education Associaton’s website, “whether you want to get better grades; get a job and get promoted; or get invited to social events.” When looking at a career, this is the profession people trust the most.

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Know when to use cameras respectfully

We live in a day and age of selfies and social media posts. We want to share what’s going on in our lives, but it’s important to know the etiquette in doing so. “The younger generations do not know life without a device,” says Richey. “This IS their connection to the world but they do need guidance on how and when to use them. Those behind the lens need to ask if they can take a photo…those in front of the camera need to kindly communicate if they do not want to be in the picture. All students need to adhere to the rules on cell phone usage at school.” Do you know how to share a selfie the proper way? These are the 13 social media etiquette rules you need to stop breaking.

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Don’t text and drive

While learning about texting etiquette, it’s good for older students in high school to learn to not text and drive. The punishment for texting while driving can become as severe as drunk driving, and for good reason. Being distracted on the road goes beyond etiquette and impacts the safety of those around you. These are the rude driving habits you really need to stop ASAP.

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Improve your posture

“Shows respect for teachers. A teacher should not lookout in her classroom with students slouched and leaning over their desks,” says Richey. “Our body language sends many messages. Students need to realize this. Schools need to bring this to the attention of their students.”

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Acknowledge and respect cultural differences

In this day and age, students are from all over the world with a variety of backgrounds. “Respect all cultures and be open to what we can learn from others with a diverse background,” says Richey.

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Don’t ghost someone

Even though it might feel easier to cease contact with someone or ignore messages, it’s never a good idea to leave a friend wondering why you stopped communicating. Conversely, don’t react in a negative way if you have been ghosted. “If you have been ghosted or are waiting for a reply, we never respond with bad etiquette through more bad etiquette,” Myka Meier, founder and director of Beaumont Etiquette and author of Modern Etiquette Made Easy: A Five-Step Method to Mastering Etiquette told Reader’s Digest. “Give the person space and if they are not replying to you, never write a follow-up message calling them out or bombard them with messages. Take the high road and move on.”

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Stop unnecessary apologizing

It’s important to be proud of your accomplishments and stand up for yourself. Women have a tendency to apologize for their accomplishments, so it’s time to take pride in what you have accomplished.

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Don’t post online when you’re upset

It might be tempting to take out your anger on a public social media post, but it’s best to think twice and not move forward with words you may regret. It’s a good idea to be level-headed when sharing anything on social media, as words spoken in real life fade, but it’s a bit harder to delete anything posted online.

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Work on your handwriting

While students type up their homework more often than write an essay by hand, having proper penmanship is still important. “I believe this needs to be taught in school. However, this skill has become somewhat of a lost art as students use computers to do most assignments,” says Richey. “They do not develop handwriting skills because of this. Many students tell me they know others cannot read their handwriting and at times do not write at all.  We need to lean in a bit and find a middle ground.” This is how handwriting has changed over the last 100 years.

Madeline Wahl
Madeline Wahl is a former associate editor and writer at RD.com whose work has appeared on HuffPost, Red Magazine, McSweeney's, Pink Pangea, The Mighty, Golf Channel and Yahoo Lifestyle, among others. More of her writing can be found on her website, madelinehwahl.com.