Personal Relationship Etiquette

Three senior girlfriends having fun in the park
Your relationships will be more rewarding if you have fun together. Lucia Lambriex / Getty Images

Personal relationships are essential to your emotional wellbeing, so it’s essential to develop and nurture them to the best of your ability. Whether you’re spending time with the love of your life or enjoy hanging out with good friends, you’ll want to follow some important behavior and manners guidelines.

Be Nice

This is an obvious tip, but it’s important enough to mention. When you want to date someone or have a friend meet you for coffee, you’re more likely to have success when you’re nice to that person all the time.

No one wants to hang out with a mean individual.

Tips on being nice:

  • Have a ready smile when it’s appropriate.
  • Avoid being sarcastic, rude, or snappy with the other person, even when you’re frustrated.
  • Do your best to be positive, but don’t be fake or overdo it, or you’ll annoy others.
  • Help others when the opportunities arise.
  • Treat people with respect.
  • Send a thank you note. She might be your closest friend, and you might chat with her everyday, but you still need to acknowledge all gifts with a handwritten message.

Be a Good Listener

Sure, it’s nice to have your say, but there are times when you need to clamp your mouth shut and simply listen. Also, remember that when you’re texting or checking your phone messages, you’re not giving the other person your undivided attention.

How to be a good listener:

  • Don’t let distractions pull your attention from the conversation.
  • Give the other person a chance to finish what he or she is saying before you interject.
  • Know when to remain silent.
  • You don’t have to have an answer to everything. Sometimes people just need to vent.
  • Do your best to put yourself in the other person’s position. Empathy is essential to being a good listener.
  • When the opportunity presents itself, ask a relevant question.

Be a Good Conversationalist

Having a great discussion doesn’t come natural to most people.

It’s important to work on what it takes to have a decent back-and-forth conversation that comes across natural and interesting.

Ways to be a good conversationalist:

  • Be prepared with a handful of conversation starters.
  • Stay current with events. You can read newspapers, watch the news, and learn about current pop culture.
  • Give people a chance to respond without interruption.
  • Allow other people to voice their opinion without judging them.
  • There is nothing wrong with a lively debate as long as you don’t attack the other person. It's okay to agree to disagree.
  • Be curious and ask questions. You’ll learn more, and the people who have the answers will appreciate your interest.
  • Understand that silence isn’t always bad.

Show Respect

Respect for others is essential if you want to have a good relationship with anyone on a personal level. This means that you need to accept differences as well as embrace similarities without causing unnecessary drama. You may argue points, but don’t resort to name calling because that’s disrespectful.

Best ways to show respect:

  • Always listen to the other person, even when he or she is saying something you consider unimportant.
  • Give credit to other people for their accomplishments. Congratulate them when they win, even if you’re the one who lost.
  • Speak to everyone in a respectful tone. Condescension is never appropriate.
  • Always be on time for appointments. If something out of your control causes you to be late, contact the person immediately.
  • Ask for advice and let the other person know you respect his or her opinion.
  • Don’t assume anything based on the person’s socio-economic status, race, sex, or religion.

Accept Flaws

You already know that no one is perfect, so if you want to have strong relationships, you need to learn to accept other people’s flaws. Try to have a sense of humor about your own shortcomings as you work to improve them.

Say Nice Things

In a good personal relationship, you’ll want to be that person who puts emphasis on saying nice things. Trashing someone, participating in malicious gossip, and starting rumors are not conducive to strong personal relationships.

Nice things to say:

  • Offer a pleasant greeting.
  • Be ready to give a sincere compliment when the occasion calls for it.
  • Tell the other person the things you like about him or her.
  • Compliment their children, spouse, or other person who means something to them.
  • Say something nice about what they’re wearing.

Be Inclusive

You know how it feels to be left out, so don’t put people you care about through that. Include people in your life as much as possible. That doesn’t mean you have to invite everyone you know to everything you do. It does mean that you need to make sure you show your pals how much you value them.

How to be inclusive:

  • When you are with a group of people, use “we” or “us” rather than specifically calling one person out.
  • Don’t discuss plans you have with one person in front of others who will feel left out.
  • Avoid telling private jokes around others who may not understand.

Have Fun

Friends and family are supposed to be fun to be around. If you find yourself not having a good time, take a good look at your attitude and what you add to the relationship, and you may discover that you’re not bringing your share of the joy. Find ways to have a good time and make wonderful memories.

Tips on having fun in relationships:

  • Don’t always worry about what other people think, as long as you’re not imposing on them.
  • Find ways to lighten up. There are times for being serious, but don’t let those moments drag you down.
  • Make time for fun. It can be a weekend, day, or even just a few hours.
  • Try new things. This may be taking a class, going on a trip, or something simple like cooking a meal together.

Be Accountable

One of the best things friends and close family members can do is to be accountable. When you make a commitment to someone you care about, honor it. They might understand if you cancel a time or two, but if you make a habit of it, they’ll stop trusting you. Take responsibility for your part in the relationship, and the people closest to you will want to be around you.

How to be accountable in a relationship:

  • Ask for feedback and be willing to accept what you hear.
  • Offer to help the other person in his or her goals.
  • State your accountability needs up front so the other person knows what to watch for.
  • Don’t forget to mention strengths.

Be Forgiving

You know that everyone makes mistakes. When family members or friends mess up, listen to their apology and forgive them. Don’t keep rehashing something from the past. That doesn’t mean you have to roll over and get abused, but it does mean that you need to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Ways you can become more forgiving:

  • Discuss the issue and come to an agreement.
  • Don’t keep bringing up the issue.
  • Avoid anything that might bring back the issue that requires forgiveness.
  • Be philosophical and don’t take the issue personally.