Public etiquettes is seldom taught in educational institutions, and most times instilled by parents and guardians. The effectiveness of the latter is little because statistically, students spend more awake time at school than in the house. Some universities are doing well to incorporate classes that teach public etiquettes, but I hope this practice can start from the grassroots. In the mean time, we will enlighten ourselves.
Here are 15 public etiquettes you should keep in mind always as a millennial or GEN-Z. You can also add to the list in the comment section below.
PUBLIC ETIQUETTES TO KEEP IN MIND
- LICKING YOUR FINGERS
The temptation to lick your fingers when eating juicy crabs or an African meal is real. My goodness, the temptation is most of the time irresistible (I’ve been there!), but if you are in a public space, kindly resist the temptation. That’s why you have napkins on the table *wink.* Better still, you could take your food home, and eat however you want *hahaha*
- PICKING YOUR TEETH
Toothpicks are an alternative option to avoid teeth-picking. Mind you, toothpicks are not meant for use while walking on the street, but rather at the table while eating. There is also the temptation to use your tongue to take out some food crumbs; resist the temptation, and use a toothpick instead. In a case where there are no toothpicks around, you can go to a closed corner and pick your teeth with a napkin’s aid.
- UNENDING WHISTLING
I get that you want to whistle and probably shake your body to the rhythm, but you need to put others into consideration. Others might find it annoying and probably term it noise pollution. So, next time, if you want to whistle, do so privately; as long as it doesn’t disturb others, you can whistle away (lol).
- SITTING WITH YOUR LEGS STRETCHED OUT
When you’re in a public setting, and you want to stretch out, it is crucial to look around and know if stretching your legs out won’t stand in the way of other people. This happens a lot, especially with guys; stretching your legs out can cause another person to trip and fall. The proper way to sit for a lady is to sit straight up with your legs slightly folded and bent or sitting cross-legged. As for the gentlemen, your legs should be straight in front of you with your feet close enough. There are occasions that warrant sitting cross-legged, most likely in an informal setting.
- CUTTING IN LINE
This act happens a lot, especially at the ATM stand! Someone comes in, meets many people in the queue, and goes to meet someone ahead, intending to cut in line. This is a terrible behavior not just by the person cutting the line but also by the person allowing such an act. If you have an emergency and need to do things in a hurry, the best action is to appeal to everyone standing, not just one person, and seek their permission. People aren’t that cruel; show your sincerity, and they’ll see it.
- STARING AT SOMEONE
Staring at a person is not only wrong, but it’s also rude. It can also be considered an insult, especially if the person has a disability or a flaw. If someone looks familiar or interesting, you can walk up to the person and start a polite conversation rather than stare.
- INTERFERING IN OTHER PEOPLE’S CONVERSATIONS
I get that there are times when someone else’s conversation is interesting and funny, and you want to join in, but sometimes, the mood isn’t right, and the people conversing might not welcome the intrusion. If it’s an open conversation, you can make a request, “Do you mind me joining the conversation?” If your request is granted, fantastic! But, do not be furious if the answer is “no.”
Note: you need to judge the mood first because you don’t want to be embarrassed.
- PICKING FALLEN FOOD CRUMBS AND EATING IT
As a child, I ate fallen food crumbs without much scolding, but as I grew up, I couldn’t keep up with the same attitude. Yesterday, my less than 2-year old sister dropped her food, but didn’t pick it up to eat. These examples show the difference in training, and it also shows the importance of inculcating public etiquettes early.
Next time you think of picking your food crumbs, remember all the microorganisms on the floor that you cannot see.
- SCRATCHING CROTCH OR ARMPIT
This has got to be the most embarrassing of all. Imagine someone scratching a sweaty armpit or down there and then offering the same hand for a handshake. Disgusting right?
Be cautious of where and when you do your scratching.
- BITING YOUR NAILS AND SPITTING THEM OUT
Are you aware of the number of microbes on your nails? Nails aren’t the cleanest part of the body. You shouldn’t put any part of your body in your mouth because you never know how unclean they are. Instead of biting your nails, there are nail cutters or blades, and they aren’t expensive. Please keep them in your bag for easy access (thank you!).
- SMACKING YOUR GUM OR LOUD GUM CHEWING
I can’t help but make a disgusting face thinking about this act. As a teenager, or an adult, you should carry yourself graciously, and smacking a gum doesn’t portray anyone in that light. It doesn’t matter if you are indoors or otherwise, CHEW YOUR GUM GRACIOUSLY!
- LOOKING AWAY DURING A CONVERSATION
First of all, that’s perceived as rude. There is a Yoruba saying that “Oju loro wa.” I can’t tell if you are listening to me when you are looking away. It gives the impression that you are uninterested even though you might be. Next time, do well to maintain frequent eye contact and listen.
- SPREADING YOUR STUFF ALL OVER THE PLACE
Cleanliness is next to godliness. In addition to that, a clean space equates a clear mind. I’ve found out that when my clothes are disorganized in my room, it’s harder to stay productive. In summary, the neater you are, the more productive you get, and the less annoying you will be to others sharing a space with you.
- NOSE PICKING
I must confess, I still pick my nose, but only when I’m indoors. There are times I unconsciously do it outside, *yuck!* But truth be told, it’s a bad habit, be it indoors or outdoors. To avoid picking your nose with your fingers, you can use a nose tissue instead. That’s more classy.
- STANDING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SIDEWALK
We ought to be conscious of other people when we are in public space. The sidewalk is not yours, so stay close to the sides. Even if it’s yours, be humble and walk by the sides. It doesn’t hurt to put others into consideration when carrying out any action. It’s a selfless way of thinking.
The bottom line is that there are a lot of public etiquettes that we can’t mention all. The best way to have an excellent social/public etiquette is to consider what you wouldn’t like when it’s done around you plus a great deal of discretion. ‘Excuse me‘ is not a license for bad behavior.