Your crop-top and flower headband might go out of style, but some things never do. One of those things is using proper etiquette. As a 20-something girl who is on her way to great things, it is important to always be chic, graceful, and a little bit sassy. These ten etiquette tips will ensure a successful future.

1) Your mood should never affect your manners

Even if you’re having the worst day ever, you should always keep in mind that the people you’re interacting with might not know this, so you should never take it out on them. If anything, put a smile on your face and try to conduct the rest of your day with positivity–this might even elevate your mood. The same goes for people you encounter who are rude and snappy toward you. You don’t know what they’re dealing with, so just smile and be polite. Maybe your positive vibes will rub off on them!

2) Hand written ‘thank you’ notes go a long way

This is something my mom has ingrained in me from an early age, so I’ve always had the habit of dropping brief handwritten notes, thanking people for their help, time, or generosity. Everyone loves to feel appreciated. Last year, after helping out with a huge event as an intern, the chairwoman of our organization sent me a handwritten thank you note. It was affirming to feel appreciated in a small way and was nice to know she took the time to write me.

3) Mind your mani

This is something that gets to me personally. You can have the most put-together, polished appearance, but if you have extremely chipped nail polish, you might as well have stepped out in sweatpants. Wear it correctly or don’t wear it at all. This goes along with minding your appearance in general. It’s easy to let your appearance fall to the back of your priorities in the midst of  classes, work, obligations, etc., but in the wise words of Tom Ford, “Dressing well is a form of good manners.” Always put your best foot forward.

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4) Always be gracious

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, the word gracious can be defined as,marked by kindness and courtesy; characterized by charm, good taste and generosity of spirit.” You can practice graciousness in every aspect of your life, whether it’s gently letting down the guy who asked you out, or giving a moment of time to help a stranger. The utmost gracious act is always in line with following the golden rule and treating others the way you want to be treated. I’ve never heard someone say they regretted being gracious.

5) Stash the smartphone

This rule should go without saying, but we all forget. It’s the absolute worst to be with people who are always on their phones. Emails, social media and conference calls consume my life, but I try really hard to put my phone down when I’m out with my friends. I make the extra effort when I’m with my parents or any people over 40 because I’ve personally found that older generations find it much more disrespectful to have a phone out than our generation does; in cases like that I keep my phone completely out of sight.  

6) Tactfully deal with adversaries

You do not have to be downright nasty to let someone know that he or she should not mess with you. I’ve never been one to let people walk all over me, and neither should any self-respecting woman. This goes for pushy co-workers, bad roommates, the girl in your group project who needs to get her act together. Sometimes I get hung up on how to deal with these people in a way that doesn’t come off like something straight out of Mean Girls. Respectfully telling someone how you feel with a smile on your face and a sprinkle of sass will get you much further than blowing up or resorting to petty, passive-aggressive jabs. One of my favorite quotes by Winston Churchill states, “Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.”

7) Count your cocktails

I’m not diving deep into detail with this, but this is a really important one right here. Nothing screams class like getting carried out of a bar by your friends or being ushered out by the bouncers when you’ve clearly had too many drinks. I experience a bad case of secondhand embarrassment for people when I see it happen. I’m not saying you always have to be on your absolute best behavior when you’re out trying to let loose with your friends, but please don’t embarrass yourself because you never know who is watching and how that will translate into future endeavors.

8) To post or not to post?

One of today’s most pressing questions. For a woman in modern times, social media is slowly becoming an extension of her existence so it should therefore be regarded with similar etiquette guidelines. Always ask yourself whether or not you think it is a good idea to post something. Don’t post it if you wouldn’t want your grandma to see it. You should keep your audience in mind and always update your privacy settings. Also, social media and alcohol should be avoided together at all costs.

9) Be considerate of those around you

Don’t leave your shoes in the middle of the doorway for your roommates to trip on, avoid having lengthy, loud conversations on your phone in public–it’s pretty self explanatory stuff here, but we all need a reality check sometimes. Once in awhile I see someone doing something really inconsiderate and I simply make a mental note to be conscious of my surroundings and those around me. The world would be a much better place if people were a tad more considerate.

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10) Confidence is key

Remember that you are you, and there is no one else who holds your unique attributes; you’re so irreplaceably valuable to the world. You don’t have to fit any specific mold if you don’t want to, but if you’re respectful of those around you, celebrate your talents, and keep a positive mindset, you’ll go places. As a young woman, there can be a lot of uncertainty in your life. You don’t know what you’re having for dinner, nevermind where you’ll be a year from now. Just keep your confidence high even if you feel it waivering. If you truly believe you’re going to do great things, you will.

Kate C