10 Social Norms That We All Need To Revisit (For Now)

Hello, how are you? Yeah? I’m happy you’re doing well.

See what I just did there? I said hello, and I asked you how you are. We are both having a polite and pleasing social session.

While that’s great and all, I’m afraid there are other things that we must address, such as the social mannerisms that have been long forgotten in the age of ‘I got no time for that’. Well, you do have time. If you have time to read this (which I thank you for … ah, again another social norm!), you will have time to practice, and perhaps, teach your friends or children. Because, you know, the society will be a better place if we work together adhasidsdsadasaapa;a’ls;”;”””””” —- oh God, sorry, I fell asleep.

Anyway, let’s get on to some of the practices that we need to bring back to society.

1. Smile back when someone smiles at you.

This honestly goes without saying. Not only does it help boost your mood in general, but it’s common courtesy to just smile back (or even smile first) when you make eye contact with someone in public. You know what’s rude? When someone just stares at you after you give them a dazzling smile.

This is just rude, man. Even for Samuel L. Jackson.

2. Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.

It honestly mystifies me when someone just grabs something from me, or asks me to do something without as much as a ‘please’ and a ‘thank you’. This doesn’t just happen between friends, but the greater public in general. Did some nice lady just pass you your lunch after you paid? Say thank you. Got your change? Say thank you. Want a colleague or a friend to do you a favour? Say please. Want your brother to pass your the ketchup? Say please. Come on, pretty please?


Exactly, little girl! Teach these damned adults.

3. Do not calculate expenditure at the table; or don’t do it at all.

HA, I know you laugh because you know someone who does this. Or you could be doing that yourself. Here’s a tip; don’t. Not only is it rude, but it’s just tactless to bring out the calculator — oh, my bad, tap on the calculator app on your phone — for the sake of counting GST, service taxes and all that other shit. You may argue that you are short on cash or talk about fairness, but here’s the thing: you wanted to go out, you wanted to hang out with 4 other friends. Bill is RM50. Divide it by 5. RM10 each (or more, always overestimate). Easy. No need to say, “Oh, but I just ordered roti canai, and you guys ordered the mee goreng.

At times, it’s fine to fork out for as much as you ordered (especially if it’s like a fancy place), and if you really need to calculate, do it elsewhere.

4. Don’t pick fights with the waiter.

You know how you say, “Oh, I don’t tolerate someone who treats their waiters like shit”, or when some wise man quotes that you can often tell what a person’s true self is like by how he treats someone who serves him? So imagine, if you’re picking fights with the waiter because of something that he has no control of (food is late, they ran out of chicken), what kind of person are you, really? He/She is making a living, just as you are, and chances are, he/she has encountered many other assholes out there so … yeah, you figure it out. Plus, you know what they say about waiters who spit in your food after you’ve finished being a total jerk …

16232589180_9d1e4a3ece_k-583290e53df78c6f6af2a79cYummy …

5. Ask before you take something from someone’s table.

Space is crowded, waiters are too busy. So naturally, you reach out for utensils at the next table. The problem is, someone’s there, and they’re looking straight at you and your hand that’s shooting across to grab a fork. You don’t say anything while you interrupt their meal and chatter. You grab the fork. You pretend nothing happened. Congratulations, you don’t have manners!


6. Let people come out from a place that you’re intending to get into.

People who take public transport or commute through very crowded areas may be familiar with this. While it is understood that you are in a hurry, the other crowds are probably in a similar circumstance. So when the doors to the train open, relax, take it easy, and wait until everyone inside has cleared out before you step in. What is the point of barging in and blocking everyone else from leaving? The awkward act of navigating would then cause other people to perhaps miss their train. Now, look at what you’ve done.


7. Open the door for someone else – regardless of whether you are male or female.

Oh, chivalry is dead! No, it isn’t. You know what’s dead? Common courtesy. How hard is it to just hold the door open for someone who’s just about to leave the place you’re entering? And does it matter if it’s a girl or a boy? Go and make someone’s day and hold the door open for them. Just don’t do it when they’re like 11283218 seconds away, ’cause then they’d feel the pressure to speed up. If that’s your actual intention, I don’t know whether to be impressed or perplexed. 


FlatGiddyIrrawaddydolphin-size_restricted10/10 should open doors for pets.

8. Say sorry when you knock into someone; or just apologise first before blaming the other party.

Quick, think about the last time you knocked into someone. Or the last time someone knocked into you. What happened then? Let me guess. It was either, a) you both ignored it and just walked on or, b) you both looked back, glared at each other, and then complained about it to the other person you’re with. Am I right, or am I right? If you’re one of those rare ones that actually blurt a quick apology before anything, good on you.

Larry-David-Jerry-Seinfeld-Stare-Off“Are you gonna say sorry, or am I?”

9. Thank the drivers who let you cross.

Other countries have pedestrian walkways, which their grateful citizens utilise. Us? Not so much. While we do have those facilities, and we do thank our government for having us in mind, we just don’t have the time, nor patience to take that path. Instead, what do we do? Rush across mad traffic like we do not fear death. That may be true for some (but please, there are other ways to go … like, living your life for the next 60 years and dying in a nice, comfortable bed surrounded by your loved ones), but honestly, it can be quite grating from a driver’s point of view to have to stop while a bunch of giggling girls (or guys – everyone has the right to giggle) just rush across, very nearly escaping death. But then, there are the good guys, the ones that see you a steady distance away, and slow down. And how do most people repay them? By glaring at them, or not even sparing them a glance. Wow, I would run you over after I let you cross halfway, to be honest. How hard is it to just lift up your hand as a ‘thank you’ gesture?


Just … don’t cause more traffic while you’re at it.

10. Bring a gift to someone’s party.

“It’s OK lah, I bring myself.”

OK, that is sort of the whole point of going to a party, but I honestly think you should just grab something on the way there, if you’re not all about preparing beforehand. It doesn’t even have to be something expensive. It can be fruits (fruits are practical, and well, edible), a bottle of something (not water, evidently), or something silly which just shows that you’re thinking of your host. This is one of the old society’s common practices that seem to have been lost on the younger ones, so perhaps it is best to bring back the great host-guest dynamic.


That’s … that’s a nice gift, Karen.


Kathlyn is the founder, and managing editor of Anything Lah! She is bad at completing biodata and










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