5 Modern Etiquette Rules to Live By in 2023

The Focus: Compassion

BY // 01.24.23

In her recurring column, “Social in Security,” modern etiquette ambassador and Bell’INVITO founder Heather Wiese-Alexander walks us through a list of trusted tips you can rely on. Today’s topic: modern etiquette rules to brush up on in 2023. 

New etiquette? You betcha. Happy 2023! Welcome to the age of etiquette enlightenment. Mental health buzz, prevalent cultural incivility, and the simple need for finding ways to live happily with each other has etiquette experts and society leaders focused on something other than lists of dos and don’ts. My favorite etiquette leaders — Town & Country, The Emily Post Institute, Mister Manners to name a few — echo this shift in their recent writings. Sure, we’ll teach you the details of modern etiquette, but first, be nice.

What’s new specifically? The focus is compassion. You cannot be unkind, uncivil, or even unintentionally a jerk and compassionate at the same time. If you resolve to have only one shift in your day-to-day, compassion is your new designer prescription lens. See the world more stylishly. Here is how.

What you put out there boomerangs back. This list of five etiquette brush-ups for 2023 is designed to elevate your personal and professional interactions. When you apply these modern rules of etiquette, the results come back with a ripple effect.


5 Modern Etiquette Rules to Live By

Say Hello

It sounds simple yet is so overlooked. The act of speaking up when you enter a store, encounter the check-out person, or cross someone’s path in the grocery aisle is just good manners. If you’re saying, “Heather, that’s such a Southern thing, we don’t do that up north,” I get it, but it’s time to consider a change. A cultural norm that is less friendly isn’t worth keeping in today’s society. It’s a new day. In a world that needs a shot-in-the-arm of kindness, a simple kind acknowledgment of another nearby human is environment-shifting. It’s more powerful than you think. Try it.


Make Introductions

Before you start talking, introduce. Introduce yourself if you are about to be talking to someone you don’t know. Introduce someone with you if they don’t know people in the group. Refuse to be in such a hurry to get thoughts out or get on with an agenda that you neglect the effort of an introduction.

Here is the introduction protocol, however, I stress this: worry more about making the introduction than getting it perfect.

  • Begin with the name of the person to whom you are introducing this new person. The former is the ‘higher-ranking’ person. Don’t overthink ‘rank’ if it is not immediately obvious. At a cocktail party, it may simply be the host or person or people that were standing in the group you just joined.
  • Say “I’d like to introduce” or, “please meet” or, “this is,” etc. The point is to speak to them first as opposed to addressing the introducee.
  • Last, say the name of the person being introduced. Formally use their full name and title. Informally use whatever name they prefer, and just a first name is absolutely fine.


Positive Over Negative

This tip requires self-awareness on a higher level. Those of us who tend to start in with the negative aspects of the subject at hand usually don’t realize we’re doing it. If this is you, do the work and prepare for incredible results. Prioritizing positivity may seem like common sense, but it is life-altering. This doesn’t mean you put on blinders or never address negative circumstances. It simply means you diligently look for a positive statement before you address the negative. Here are three examples:

1. I really hate when you are late. It’s so rude.
Try this instead: It’s so important that you are on time. This detail is non-negotiable.

2. I don’t like… (this can be literally anything).
Try this instead: I prefer (literally anything).

3. I can’t handle Kelly’s kids around mine. They are terrors and disrespectful.
Try this instead: The kids and I are doing this instead. You and Layla are welcome to join or you guys have a great afternoon and we’ll catch you later.

Need a positive spin? Just ask. I love to help put the polish on that will make your hard or heavy situations a little lighter. Our email for questions is at the bottom.


Respond Quickly

This says, “I care.” It’s something we all struggle with for good reason. Devices are rude little interrupters and because everyone knows access to each other is presumably immediate, expectations for responsiveness are sky-high. I tend to avoid responding when I don’t have the answer that I perceive is the desired one, or the answer requires research I can’t do just yet. If you’re like me, grab my hand, we’re doing this together.

Respond as soon as you can with what you know at the moment. This can be, I see your message and I’m going to have to get back to you on that in (name timeframe). Response time? Great question. Socially speaking, divide the day in half. The following half-day is a good general rule. Professionally speaking, find out what is expected in your organization. Responsiveness is a foundational reputation-building block. Make sure yours is solid.


Appreciate Often

Appreciation practiced consistently is transformative. It’s good for the person receiving, and it’s great for the person appreciating. Thank you notes are gems. A thank you text or email is something good. A call or face-to-face statement is uplifting. Don’t gush. Be sincere. Set aside time specifically to keep up with appreciating. To be honest, this doesn’t always come naturally to me. If you struggle with remembering to stop and appreciate, you aren’t alone. It’s a worthy trait to adopt. I speak from experience when I say it makes a difference in the quality of your relationships and the way people feel about you.

Take on all five or just pick one. Enjoy the results. I know you will see them. I’m wishing you all a happy, prosperous, and enlightening new year. Modern etiquette is designed to take you further, bring you more joy, build better relationships, and contribute to your overall success. This is your year. Keep learning and growing. If you’d like a topic explored and expanded upon, let us know. My joy is seeing you happy and confident. I’m here to help with that.

Questions? Please reach out to for modern etiquette inquiries. 

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