When it comes to bonding, there’s nothing like visiting the homes of your family and friends. It’s a chance to relax, laugh, and catch up on what is happening in each other’s lives. It is a special gift that shouldn’t ever be abused.

Many a relationship has been destroyed by inappropriate and abusive actions during a visit. Sometimes the actions were deliberate and many others times, they were due to ignorance. By following a few rules, you can prevent your visits from ever going awry.


Here are 36 rules to consider before your next visit:

1.. If you want to go to a friend or relative’s home uninvited, it is best to go between 2 and 4 pm in the winter, 2 and 5 pm in the summer. This way you will arrive after lunch, but before dinner. It would be a shame to interrupt a mother’s lunch with her children, a husbands’ dinner with his wife, or a young lady’s toilet preparation for an evening outing.

For those that work, it is best to visit on weekends. If the friend or relative is a stay-at-home parent or is currently unemployed, you can visit during the week.

Please remember: an announced visit is always the best way to go.

2.. Never stop uninvited at the home of an acquaintance you barely know. Do not stop uninvited at the home of someone superior to your station who is not a close friend or relative. For example, don’t stop uninvited at your employer’s home or the home of the mayor to whom you were introduced a month before.

3.. If you visit someone’s home uninvited, and the hostess is preparing to go out, to eat dinner, to receive visitors, or is receiving visitors – you should excuse yourself as soon as possible even if she asks you to remain longer. She may be asking out of politeness.

4.. Keep your visit short if the person you are visiting is not a very intimate acquaintance. Keep it to less than one hour. It is better to end a visit on a good note than to over-stay your welcome. By staying too long, you may prevent your hostess from doing other things like resting, readying herself for an event, spending time with her family, and etc.

5.. Always ask for the well-being of the hostess’ family. It is good breeding to show care and consideration for others.

ETIQUETTE: 36 RULES FOR VISITING FAMILY AND FRIENDS6.. Always dress appropriately for the time, location, and individual you are visiting. In most cases, it is not in good taste to visit someone wearing very casual clothes like cut-off shorts and a crop top; or revealing clothes like skirts with waist high slits; or exercise clothes like a sports bra and tights.

If you are visiting an esteemed person’s home during the day, it is better to arrive in a casual but elegant style. For example, an elegant sundress would be appropriate for a causal visit during the summer.

Please understand, such persons tend to have other esteemed persons visiting them throughout the day. You never want to feel uncomfortable or make someone else feel uncomfortable about your clothing. You should always look your best for yourself as well as for the person you are visiting. This is showing respect for yourself and for others.

Dress appropriate for the weather. No matter how cute or impressive an outfit, it is not worth it to arrive shivering from the cold or sweating buckets from being too hot. If the blame for your uncomfortable arrival be put on your clothing choice, you will be looked at as ignorant, foolish, or someone who is exhibiting affectation.

7.. Turn off your cell phone before arriving. If you cannot do this, at the very least, turn it on vibrate. There’s nothing like a ringing cell phone to disrupt a conversation. Your cell phone should also be left in your pocket or purse, so that you are not constantly looking at it. Never spend a visit talking, texting, or net surfing on your cell phone. That is the height of rudeness.

8.. Do not look at your watch (or cell phone) often. You will appear bored or like you are wanting to leave. Even if you are bored and can’t wait to go home, you must hide these emotions under the expression of interest. If it is too early to take your leave, the best thing to do is re-direct the conversation. Find something else to discuss that will entertain everyone involved.

9.. When waiting for the host or hostess to appear or reappear in a receiving room, do not walk around the room. Instead, sit in the place you were directed – calm and collected.

To pace a room is to exhibit agitated behaviour. To walk around it while looking at pictures and picking up ornaments exhibits nosy behavior. These actions can also worry your hostess if she has expensive or loved artifacts in the room. The more you pace or pick up ornaments, the more likely you will damage something.

10.. Always leave umbrellas in the entryway when visiting a home. You don’t want to clutter a receiving room or wet it with water. If there is a place, also leave your coat. You don’t want to clutter, take up space, wet, or dirty furniture by bringing your coat into a sitting room.

11.. Unless specifically requested, never take any of your dogs (or cats) to a friend or relative’s home. No matter how sweet your dog is, dogs in general, are uncontrollable variables in a visit.

Your dog may bring dirt into a home, urinate on a prized Persian rug, bark at a stranger, run after another dog or cat, jump onto a sofa or rub against someone who does not like or fear dogs. Just because you like dogs does not mean everyone feels the same. Always be aware of that. Many pet owners forget their manners when it comes to their pets.

ETIQUETTE: 36 RULES FOR VISITING FAMILY AND FRIENDS - Balissande Finishing School12.. Never take your young children with you, unless you were specifically asked to bring them. An exception to this rule is if it is a close family member with whom you want your children to become familiar. The reason for this is: children are uncontrollable variables.

Many parents unconsciously realize this and end up spending half of their visit focusing on their children, making sure they are entertained and keeping out of trouble. If your hostess doesn’t have young children herself, this behavior could become annoying and boring. At the very least, it is disrupting to the flow of conversation. It is hard to converse with a mother who is constantly looking at her children, and worse, yelling at them.

By bringing young children on a visit, you will also force a hostess to entertain them. She, herself, may feel discomfort to see your children bored or sitting too silent on a chair. She may then go out of her way to entertain them, instead of speaking to you. Although this may sound enticing to some parents, please remember the purpose of your visit: to connect with your hostess.

13.. If a visitor arrives an hour after you arrived, wait for this person to sit down, acknowledge her, and after a couple of minutes, politely take your leave. Allow your hostess time to entertain someone else.

14.. If while visiting someone, their family member walks in, always acknowledge them with a cordial ‘hello’. Even if you have an unpleasant history with this person, you must always be polite and respectful. If you decide to leave, make sure to wait a few minutes before taking your leave. You don’t want to appear as if you are running. Make sure to have a polite and plausible excuse already available for such occurrences.

15.. Always have a list of plausible and polite reasons ready for taking a leave. Have some for a leave that is taken for normal reasons. And have some ready for leaves that must be taken ahead of time, for example if someone is already visiting or if someone disagreeable walks in while you are visiting. A lady of refined mannerisms is always prepared for every circumstance.

16.. Ladies, if a gentleman enters a room while you are seated, it is more proper to remain seated. If an elderly person enters the room, it is generally more considerate for you to rise, especially if cheek kisses are involved. Forcing elderly people to bend over to kiss you can create embarrassing situations. In most circumstances, it is in good taste to show elders respect by rising from your chair.

17.. Pay attention to your hostess’ facial expressions. This will guide you in deciding if it is time to leave. If you start to see boredom, agitation, or a lack of concentration on her face or in her actions – take your leave. By paying attention to your hostess’ expressions, you will also be able to see what topics your hostess enjoys discussing, is comfortable with, is fascinated by, and/or makes her laugh. For tips on how to become a better conversationalist, click here.

18.. During winter, the most honorable place to sit in a receiving room is at the corner of the fireplace where it is the warmest. So if you are sitting in that honored seat, and a lady visitor walks in who is older, married (if you’re not), or of a higher rank, you should gracefully rise from your seat and offer it graciously to the lady.

19.. Do not look continuously to the side or around the room while speaking to your hostess. Not only will you look distracted, but you will also look nosy. Constantly looking around the room can also give the impression that you are looking for something to steal. You never want to give that impression.

You also don’t want to give the appearance of having shifty eyes. As many have already learned through experience or “mastering interviews” tutorials, those with shifty eyes must be treated carefully. People with these eyes are either hiding secrets, telling you lies, or are deeply insecure.

20.. If you are making a formal visit, always sit straight in your chair. Do not allow your spine to touch the back of the chair. If you are making a very informal visit that encourages slouching on a sofa while watching TV, you should do so in order to not appear uncomfortable and arrogant. Always be ready to adjust your behavior to your circumstance.


21.. While sitting, do not slap your knees, shake your leg, swing your foot, or continuously play with your hair. These are ticks. They show signs of anxiety, insecurity, and/or discomfort. They also show a lack of self-control – the opposite of poise and elegance.

22.. While sitting, do not hold your knee(s) with clasped hands. Instead lay your hands in your lap in a relaxed manner. You can also lay them gracefully on the armrest(s) of your chair. Make sure that by doing so, you are not touching or near to touching anyone who may be sitting next to you. Always respect the space of others.

23.. Do not continuously adjust your clothing, jewelry, or glasses. If you are wearing items that properly fit, you shouldn’t have to adjust them constantly. Adjusting constantly shows nervousness, insecurity, and/or the inability to buy appropriately fitting clothing and accessories.

24.. Do not speak too much or too loud. You never want to dominate a conversation. There should always be an equal give-and-take. And you never want to speak so loud a person in another room can hear you. Of course, this, like everything else depends on events and culture. There are some cultures that are very vibrant and feature loud, but enlivening conversations. And there are events like the World Cup that would not be as fun without a bit of boisterous behaviour.

25.. Try to keep your conversation positive. Don’t bring negative energy into a home you are visiting. Avoid negative gossip unless it is absolutely necessary to share the happenings of a person for reasons like offering advice or warnings. Avoid complaining as much as possible. Do not speak negatively about yourself. The key here is to create positive, joyful, and enlightening conversations. You want to leave your hostess in a better mood than when you arrived.

26.. Always show interest in the conversation you are having with your acquaintance. No matter how bored you are, never show it. It is better to re-direct a conversation than to show boredom or disinterest. So, remember to always look at people when they are talking. Make eye contact. And smile (at the appropriate times).

27.. Do not laugh immoderately or too loud. Always laugh appropriately to the event. You do not want to come off as a lady who is constantly giggling when there is nothing funny happening. At the same time, people like people who have a sense of humor. Being too stiff is off-putting in today’s world. So, try to develop a good balance.

28.. Keep your hands to yourself. When you are talking, try to keep your hands from touching your hostess. Not everyone likes to be touched by those with whom they are not romantically involved.


29.. If it is raining outside and you have no way of arriving mostly dry, do not pay visits. No one likes to have someone turn up soaking wet on their doorstep. Not only is it uncomfortable to look at, it forces the hostess to either offer you dry clothing or choose which of her chairs or sofas she wants to get wet.

30.. Sit in the chair or sofa you are directed to sit on. Do not sit on the arms or back of the chair or sofa. Do not sit on the table or the floor. Do not stand when you have been directed to sit.

31.. Do not put your feet on a table or ottoman. It is unsanitary. And you may also soil your hostess’ furniture.

32.. Do not get drunk or drink so much you lose the ability to speak coherently and tactfully. Such behaviour will put your hostess in an awkward situation of deciding how best to handle you.

Never drink so much, a hostess is forced to kick you out of her home for drunk & disorderly conduct. That is one of the worse transgressions a visitor can make. Also never drink so much you vomit or urinate on your hostess or her floor.

33.. Do not arrive to a relative or friend’s home drunk or high on drugs. You are likely to say or do something you will regret later on.

34.. Do not argue with your hostess or any other person in the room. Always allow everyone in a room to speak their belief, no matter how much you disagree with it. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. You must always show tolerance and respect for your hostess. If you disagree with a belief, state your opinion and then move on. Remember, you are not there to argue. You are there to bond and to spread positive energy.

35.. Do not criticize your hostess. No matter how much you dislike your hostess’ decor, food, drinks, or the kind of sugar she uses – you have no right to criticize her. Such actions will not make your hostess feel happy about herself or the visit. The exception to this rule is if your hostess asks you for your sincere opinion. If your opinion happens to be negative, then let it be so. You should be known for your honesty, when asked for it.

36.. Do not use curse words. It is inappropriate to use curse words whether at home or outside of it. It is much worse to use them in someone else’s home.

And never disrespect a guest or your hostess by swearing at them. This is an absolute no-no. This behavior is never acceptable. If something horribly disagreeable has been said or done, it is better to leave and never return than to swear at someone.

conversation etiquette from downton abbey, Dowager Countess

Please always remember: etiquette, at its core, is about making others feel comfortable and respected in your presence. Doing this will help secure you many social invitations in the future.





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