If you spend some time in an English-speaking country, you might hear the term ‘etiquette’. It means normal and polite social behavior. This may seem like a difficult word at first, but it ca
n be very useful to understand. Etiquette is not the same in every culture or in every situation. For example, standing very close to the person you are talking with is quite common in some Asian countries. However, if you do this in Europe, some people might feel uncomfortable. Even in China, we all know that etiquette is not the same in all situations. Perhaps we think that talking loudly in our own homes is fine, but there are other places where talking loudly is not allowed. For example, most people would agree that talking loudly in a library, a museum, or a movie theater is impolite. Even if you are with your friends, it is better to keep your voice down in public places. In fact, we should also take care not to cough or sneeze loudly in public. If we see someone breaking the rules of etiquette, we may politely give them some suggestions. Perhaps one of the most polite ways is to ask someone, Would you mind doing this or Would you mind not doing that. For example, if someone cuts in front of you in a line, you could ask them, Sorry, would you mind joining the line? If someone is smoking on the bus, you could ask, Excuse me, could you please put out that cigarette? People don’t usually like to be criticized, so we have to be careful how we do this. Although rules of etiquette can often be different, some rules are the same almost everywhere in the world! For example, dropping litter is almost never allowed. If you see someone you know doing this, you can ask them, would you mind picking it up?