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While their children are growing up, most parents do their best to teach them basic manners and courtesy. Some are successful, others not so much… By the time that child reaches adulthood, they enter a world where certain social norms and decorum are expected.

And, as the world begins to re-engage at live meetings and events, many are realizing that the behaviors they once employed in certain social situations are now different than they were pre-pandemic.

“The last two years have been challenging for everyone. People have different levels of comfort with our reopening world and it’s important we respect each other’s needs and wants,” says Arden Clise, etiquette and customer service speaker, trainer, coach and author and owner of Clise Etiquette.  “We’ll all be happier and more productive if we can be gracious, kind and understanding.”

With that in mind, here are some actions to consider as we return to live events:

  • Respect: Follow the rules of the venue and host organization. They are doing their best to accommodate different and varying needs and circumstances. The employees are rarely the rule makers but must enforce the decisions of others.
  • Be considerate: Be understanding of those wearing masks. Some are immunocompromised or live with others at high risk. Some work with or care for the elderly, or children who are still ineligible for the COVID vaccine. Teasing them or questioning their motives doesn’t alleviate their concerns.
  • Ask permission: Although it may feel awkward, when greeting someone ask if it is okay to hug or shake hands. Or as Clise says, “If you aren’t comfortable shaking hands, be prepared with an alternative greeting and be intentional about it. If you prefer an elbow bump, put your elbow out as soon as you’re close enough to the person to bump.”
  • Speak up: If someone is too close, kindly ask for more room. Phrases such as, “Could I please have a little more space? I’m still trying to maintain some distance,” can help avoid uneasiness. Event planners might consider using the “traffic light” system, which utilizes different colored wristbands or lanyards to let other attendees know at a glance your level of comfort.



RED – not comfortable with close contact;

YELLOW – avoiding contact but happy to chat;

GREEN – okay to approach, shake hands, talk without masking.




  • Be aware: Avoid touching unnecessary objects – there is no need to touch four cans of Diet Coke to take one.
  • Cover up: When coughing or sneezing, covering your mouth and nose with a tissue, handkerchief, or if nothing else, your elbow joint, is a must. Immediately discard used tissue and sanitize your hands. While this is nothing new, extra vigilance during this heightened time of awareness may relieve angst and stress of some fellow attendees.

And finally, Clise warns, “Avoid asking someone about their vaccination status as a topic of conversation. This should be a need-to-know question, only to ensure your safety and that of the other person. Don’t ask because you’re curious or want to get into vaccine politics, which may not go over well.”

Ultimately, we should all continue to be kind and considerate, and respectful of others, especially as this pandemic is winding down.

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