Bellowing down a phone in public or failing to vacate a train seat for a passenger in need are among the more obvious examples of the discourteous behaviour emblematic of modern life.
But many people are seeking out guidance on good manners from the most established authority on the subject.
Debrett’s, which specialises in guides on British etiquette, has said that it now receives more than 10,000 enquiries per year about how to behave appropriately in everyday social situations.
Now, for the first time in its 245-year history, it has shared the most frequently asked questions submitted by members of the public. The publisher, billed as the authority on social skills and modern manners, says that many of the questions helped inform Debrett’s Handbook, a 480-page compendium designed to help readers navigate potentially tricky social situations with confidence.
Here are eight thoroughly modern pieces of advice from Debrett’s.
1. Mobile phones should be switched off in any space where silence is desired.
“It is always rude to pay more attention to a phone than a person in the flesh,” according to Debrett’s.
2. Electronic cigarettes should never be used in a work environment.
3. Social kissing should only be used among friends, not on first meeting.
4. Eating on public transport is inconsiderate and should be avoided.
5. Reclining one’s seat during short, day-time flights is selfish and should be avoided.
6. Passengers on public transport should always offer their seat to those more in need.
7. Web users should avoid blind copying others into email exchanges where possible.
“Blind copying should be used discerningly as it is deceptive to the primary recipient,” Debrett’s counsels.
8. Beginning to eat before everyone has been served is rude and should be avoided.