Be polite to everyone; not just to people who you think are important or who might give you something.
- Always say ‘please’ when you ask for things, always say ‘thank you’ when someone does something for you, or gives you something, whether or not you have paid for it.
- Give people your full attention when they are speaking to you, especially people you do not know or those of a different generation (friends of your age may be more tolerant); take off your earphones, put down your laptop.
- If you need to get someone’s attention, the phrase ‘Excuse me’ is always appropriate and polite.
- Learn to give and accept apologies graciously. If you’ve done something wrong, just say ‘I’m sorry for doing x.’ Don’t immediately give an excuse.
- If someone apologises to you, try to get into the habit of just saying ‘That’s ok’ or a similar brief phrase. Don’t go on to explain exactly why they really shouldn’t have done the thing. (You may find it helpful to look at our section about relationships for more serious disagreements or disappointments.)
- Learn to give and accept compliments graciously. Passing on positive comments makes the world a better place, so if you like something, say so – to friends, family, people you meet at work. It normally means more if you say something specific; don’t be insincere or over-the-top, and don’t get into ‘Compliments Wars’ on Facebook.
- If someone compliments you, follow the American model and simply say ‘Thank you’. If you make this your habit, you will always seem gracious; otherwise you can either come across as arrogant (by agreeing) or spoil the compliment (by disagreeing).