YOU'RE SHOUTING! Use caps sparingly.
Early-a.m. or late-p.m. texting
You may give someone a very rude awakening. Unless you're familiar with a person's schedule, check in during business hours or network prime time.
Scooping someone's news
Don't steal a friend's baby announcement thunder by tweeting "OMG!" before she has told her coworkers. Also avoid posting images from an event until you OK it with the host.
Don't hide behind the keypad. If you get an upsetting text from someone you know, telephone him or discuss it in person.
De Muyshondt, the founder of the Socialsklz etiquette program for children and young adults in New York City, recommends not using the word "manners" unless you're a glutton for eye-rolls. Here are some key social skills for kids and teens and how to teach them.
What to say in a thank-you note
Young kids don't have to say much. A drawing is a perfect thank-you. For older children, a small note card with three short sentences is plenty. Here's what to say: what you're expressing gratitude for ("Thank you for the kite!"), how it made you feel or how you're going to use the gift ("I can't wait to fly it in the park"), and something nice about the gifter ("You're a cool aunt.")
How to pick up their cellphones
Explain that it's rude to send every call to voice mail. That said, also make sure that they know that "hello" or "hi," not "hey" or "whassup?" is the appropriate greeting if a grown-up is calling.
How to talk to very old people
On the way to grandma's house, say, "Remember to speak slower and louder because Grams can't hear as well as you can." Never correct kids in front of others. This creates a negative association and may inadvertently insult someone else. Instead, talk later at home about what to do next time.
How to shake hands
Demonstrate that the web between the index finger and the thumb should meet the other person's web. Curl your fingers around the bottom of the other person's hand with a firm, not bone-crushing, grip. Shake for the duration of the intro ("Hi, my name is..."), maintaining eye contact and good posture while smiling.
How to respect other people's ears
Time to role-play. Blast music that you know the kids don't like so they understand that not everyone wants to listen to their loud tunes or gaming sound effects.
How to respect personal space
Get nose to nose and ask, "Is this too close?" Then show them how it feels to converse with in a more comfortable range (about half an arm's length away).
How not to say "Eww!"
When you have company or are visiting someone's home, give kids a pass on eating foods that they don't like, but tell them that words like gross and yuck should never be uttered, because it's hurtful to the person who cooked. You don't have to be the Manners Enforcer every night, by the way. You'll get better results if you practice skills weekly with a "fancy Friday" dinner at home.
How to expand beyond one-word answers
Turn learning conversational skills into a ball game. The rules are: Whoever has the ball has to say more than one word and ask a question before passing the ball. Try to keep the back-and-forth going for 30 seconds, then progress to one minute, then two.