15 Etiquette Rules That Changed in the Last Decade
You don’t need us to tell you that things have changed a lot over the past ten years. From technology to fashion, things are evolving.
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An evolution of manners
You don’t need us to tell you that things have changed a lot over the past ten years. From technology to fashion, things are evolving—and that includes our manners. That’s a good thing, says Lisa Grotts, etiquette expert, founder of Golden Rules Gal, and author of A Traveler’s Passport to Etiquette. “As society changes, our manners have to change as we adapt to the world around us,” she explains. “We’ve become much more fast-paced and expect things to be quick and convenient which means that etiquette is moving from being more formal to less formal.” These are the good manners that everyone should commit to memory.
Old rule: Assuming a coworker’s partner is a certain gender
Even just ten years ago, most people would assume their female coworker’s spouse was a man or a male friend’s partner was a woman. But now, not only should you not assume marital status—many people don’t like wearing rings or choose not to get married, even though they’re in a long-term relationship—but you shouldn’t assume gender either, says Maryanne Parker, an international business, social, and youth etiquette expert and founder of Manor of Manners.
New rule: Use gender-neutral pronouns until you know what they prefer. In fact, not using “he” or “she” in your writing is one of the 12 grammar rules that has changed in the past decade.
Old rule: Ladies first
No, chivalry is not dead—it’s that the definition of what exactly shows respect to women is changing, Smith says. Things like opening doors and pulling out chairs for women aren’t rude but they’re not seen as necessary anymore, she says.
New rule: If you’re going to do basic niceties, it’s kind to do these gestures for men and women. But one place you should definitely avoid giving women deferential treatment, however, is at the office. “Nowadays we are gender-neutral in the workplace,” she says. Conversations don’t have to be stilted though, just use one of these 37 conversation starters that make you instantly more interesting.
Old rule: You must wear black to a funeral
Most funerals are considered very somber affairs so the dress code was usually to wear something in keeping with that mood, usually black, conservative, and not revealing. Today many people do not consider such dress code necessary any longer, due to time constraints, lack of formal clothing, or simply because they prefer to see a funeral of a person’s life rather than a sad event, Parker says.
New rule: It’s not wrong to wear black but feel free to wear anything that is nice and appropriate for the person you are honoring. This is one of the 12 funeral etiquette tips everyone should know.
Old rule: Waiting for a formal introduction
This was a tactic commonly used in situations like business or membership to elite clubs. It was a way to restrict members and discriminate based on race or gender, a practice that, thankfully, is no longer acceptable today, says Jodi R. R. Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. Plus, thinking you always need to wait for someone else to introduce you is one of the 15 signs you are actually too polite.
New rule: “Self-introductions are now perfectly polite,” she says.
Old rule: Baby showers are strictly for women
“Even just ten years ago, baby showers were strictly considered a lady’s celebration, for women to share experiences, games, and memories together,” Parker says. But this is no longer a requirement! More and more often men are attending baby showers and they should, as they are taking more of an active parenting role than dads have in the past, she explains.
New rule: Invite anyone who is going to be a part of the baby’s life to the shower, regardless of gender. Want to be the perfect house guest? Here are some tips to use when you’re a guest in someone’s home.
Old rule: A thank-you note must be handwritten
Handwritten thank-you notes are still a lovely gesture and people often treasure and keep them. But taking the time to find a card, write it out, and post it can be tricky and the act of saying thank you is far more important than how you do it, Smith says.
New rule: For a quick thank-you, an email or text message are perfectly fine. However, if you’re acknowledging something big, a handwritten note is worth the extra steps. “Thank you notes are a social grace that never goes out of style,” she adds. Writing a quick thank you is one of the 33 simple etiquette rules that are easier to do than you think.
Old rule: The bride’s family pays for the wedding
Speaking of wedding traditions that the Great Recession demolished, it’s no longer expected that a bride’s family will pay for the wedding, Parker says. “Most new couples prefer to put an effort and save from their own money and enjoy the wedding the way they want to,” she explains.
New rule: The couple is in charge of financing their nuptials although they are welcome to ask either family for financial help. Of course, as a guess, you’re still required to RSVP and follow these other wedding etiquette rules.
Old rule: Business casual means slacks and a pressed shirt
“Today’s young adults prefer to be dressed casually everywhere, including at work,” Grotts says. “So many companies are embracing a dressed-down culture.”
New rule: Standards vary between industries and companies but compared to a decade ago, things are significantly more casual—think jeans and a plaid shirt or linen pants and a nice T-shirt. “However, this is still such a thing as too casual so steer clear of things like ripped jeans or sports jerseys,” she explains. Still confused? Check out our primer on business casual for women.
Old rule: Hands in your lap, ladies
Women used to be expected to keep their hands in their laps or under the table during a meal, Parker says. “Before this was seen as an elegant but rather submissive gesture, which is no longer applicable because most of the time we attend business meetings and women of today are equal partners in any conversation,” she says.
New rule: Everyone’s hands should be on top of the table (not the elbows, only the hands), she says. While you’re at it, make sure you’re avoiding these 20 rude restaurant habits.