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What Are Social Norms? You Follow Them Every Day Without Even Noticing

What Are Social Norms? You Follow Them Every Day Without Even Noticing

Social Norms are unwritten rules that are acceptable in a society. They provide us with an expected idea of how to behave in a particular social group or culture. Norms change according to the environment or situation and may change over time. Social norms operate to build and maintain society.

Social norms are informal understandings that govern the behavior of a society. Norms can be cultural products that include values, customs, and traditions. These represent individuals’ basic knowledge of what others do and think they should. When we follow the norms of our society, we are participating to either maintain or challenge it. The idea of norms provides a key to understanding social influence in general. Norms provide order in society. It is difficult to see how human society could operate without social norms. Human beings need norms to guide and direct their behavior to provide order. We need order in social relationships and to make sense of and understanding of each other’s actions.

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What are the effects of breaking social norms?

Breaking social norms can make you a hero or an outcast. Many admire individuality, and breaking a small social norm can get you noticed. Breaking social norms has no legal recourse and social norms change with time. But there always exists consequences for breaking social norms. A person may face ostracization from society. In history, this was a literal removal or banishment of the person from the society. Today ostracization may not be geographical. When you break social norms, people stop associating with you. You may lose your job. You can get sent out of a homeowners association or other group. You end up alone. Because society is not comfortable with your behavior, many will refuse to associate.

Here are some everyday norms you have been following without even noticing.

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Chewing with your mouth closed.

This is a considered an important social norm. Many consider it bad manners to see people chewing with their mouths open. It is quite disgusting to see the half-eaten remnants of another human’s meal. We bet You didn’t know this was a social norm and we bet you have been chewing with your mouth closed.

Unpleasant odors

It is an important social norm to take precautions so that you don’t offend anyone with the way you smell. When out in public, be sure to wear clothing that is clean and fresh [1] . Wear deodorant to prevent body odor s. If you are the type that grow beard, endeavor to take care of it. If you wear a perfume or cologne, be sure to only use a very small amount to prevent the scent being overwhelming. Do not expel gas in public either [2] . If you must do so, find a public restroom. Brush your teeth to freshen your breath before leaving home. Now, we are sure you do these every day.

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Appropriate Dressing

It is important that you dress in a way that is appropriate for the place that you are going. If you are going to an event where people dress in a formal or a semi-formal way, do the same. For example, do not wear blue jeans and a t-shirt to a cocktail party. Do not dress in a vulgar manner. But, if you are going to a museum or a movie theater, it is acceptable to dress in a casual way. In other words, try and dress the way you think others will dress at the place you are going.

Watch what you say in public

When you are out where there are a lot of people within ear-shot and eye-shot, mind your verbal and non-verbal communication. Swear words are inappropriate in public. Do not use words which may offend other people, especially when there are children around. Do not argue in public and do not say things that could be critical. Refrain from doing things like pointing at people and using rude hand gestures.

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Phone etiquette

For mobile phone usage, here are some acceptable norms. Say hello when answering and goodbye when you hang up [3]. Reply to all texts and voice mails. Do not refuse to take a message. Do not lie if someone has the wrong number. Do not tell telemarketers you will call them back. Do not pretend you are an answering machine (that’s horrible).

When in elevator

For Elevators, Nod or say hello to others on the elevator. Face the front. Never push extra buttons, only the one for your floor. Do not go elevator surfing. Never stand right by someone if you are the only two people on board. Do not say “I’ll wait for the next one” if only one person is on board.

Norms about public behavior

Shake hands when you meet someone. Have direct eye contact with the person you are speaking with. Consume alcohol in moderation. Unless the movie theater’s filled up, never sit right next to someone. Do not stand close enough to someone to touch arms or hips. Do not curse in polite conversation. Do not pick your nose. Wear clothing, especially of a similar style that others wear. Say please and thank you. Be kind to the elderly, like opening a door or giving up your seat. Go to the back of the line. Don’t invade someone’s personal space. When at someone’s home, ask permission, such as turning on the television or using the bathroom. Stop at a red light. Go at a green light. Pull over for emergency vehicles. Drive on the right side of the road in the United States. Do not be promiscuous. Try to avoid burping or farting in public. Flush the toilet. Say “please” when asking for something. Say “thank you” when someone does something for you. Call to let someone know you will be late.

I bet you have been following these norms every day without even noticing.

Reference

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Amber McNaught

Freelance Writer

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Last Updated on May 7, 2019

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

How to Detect a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Work in any competitive field long enough, and you’re bound to run into a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a powerful image. A shepherd watches over his flock to protect them from harm. He’d chase away any predator that tried to make its way into the flock. A clever wolf wearing the skin of a sheep as a disguise can sneak by the vigilant shepherd and get into the herd undetected.

The story isn’t just a colorful description–it’s a warning to all of us to beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing. They may seem innocent, but they have ulterior motives. They’ll use different tactics to camouflage their intentions.

The person who is kind to you, but undercuts you when you aren’t around is a wolf in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing might pick your brain for ideas and then pass them off as their own to get a promotion. They’re always looking out for themselves at the expense of everyone around them.

Wearing a Disguise Has Its Advantages

People don’t go out of their way to manipulate others unless they’re getting something out of it. Hiding their intentions gives wolves the chance to manipulate other people to advance their own agenda. They know that what they’re trying to do wouldn’t be popular, or it might cause struggle if they presented themselves honestly.

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    They’ll be able to do what they want with less interference if they put on an act. By the time people figure out their true motives, the wolf has what it wants.

    Signs That Someone Is a Wolf in Disguise

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        1. They live to take power instead of empowering others. A wolf uses people as stepping stones to get the things that they want. They don’t care what happens to anyone else.[1] A wolf at work might make you look bad during a presentation to make themselves look amazing in front of the boss.
        2. Wolves seem sweet on the outside, but they’ll show you their teeth. If wolves revealed their true identity, people wouldn’t associate with them. They develop a friendly or kind persona, but they can’t keep up the act 24/7. Eventually, they’ll reveal their aggressive tendencies. A wealthy person who likes to break the law may make sizable charitable donations to convince people that they are kind and thoughtful. These donations largely keep them out of trouble, but if someone calls them out, they destroy that person’s reputation to stifle the criticism.
        3. They manipulate through emotions to get what they want. Wolves know that they can get ahead by appealing to your emotions. They find out what you want and need, and they give you just enough to keep you quiet and compliant. Imagine that your boss is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and you want to ask for a vacation. She might try to play on your guilt and feelings of insecurity to get you to skip vacation or take fewer days off.
        4. A wolf will charm you first. Wolves are experts at manipulating the people around them. They appear interested in whatever you’re doing, and you’ll get the impression that they care. After they get you where they want you, they do just enough to keep you on the hook. This is the coworker who may start out being your friend, but they end up dumping responsibility onto you. When they see that you are growing frustrated, they’ll surprise you with something to charm you some more. Then, they’ll continue to do whatever they want.
        5. Their stories are full of holes.  Calling a wolf out is the surest way to make them squirm. When this person tries to come up with a story, it won’t make much sense because they are improvising.[2] The classic example of this is the significant other that you suspect has cheated on you. When you ask them why they came home so late, they’ll either become upset with you, or they’ll make up a weak explanation.

        How to Spot a Wolf

          Know What’s Real So You Can Spot the Phony

          Do some homework so that you have as much of the story as possible before you work with them. Research how they respond in certain situations, or give them hypothetical problems to see how they respond.

          A job applicant might tell you that she’s always positive and thinks of herself as a team-player. That’s what every employer wants to hear. During the interview you ask applicants to work in groups to solve a problem to see how they handle the situation. The applicant “positive team-player” is bossy and negative. You’ve spotted the wolf.

          A wolf will tell you something that ultimately benefits them. Gather evidence that proves or disproves their position, and see what happens. Chances are, when you choose the side that supports their agenda, they’ll act like your best friend. If you disagree, they’ll become aggressive.

          Spotting a potential wolf–especially if you are one of the sheep–can present you with some challenges. If your gut tells you that a wolf is lurking among all the other sheep, pay attention, and make sure you take the next step.

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          Ask Questions, the More the Better

          There’s nothing wrong with asking questions to uncover the truth. The safety of everyone in your group is at risk. Since wolves often make up stories, you may be able to call them out when their tales lack details.

          When they state an opinion, ask “Why do you think that?” or “How do you know it’s like that?” They’ll have trouble coming up with enough information to pull off the lie.

          Since wolves are always pretending to be something they aren’t, they don’t usually have a clearly thought-out reason for what they say. In a debate, they won’t understand the root of an issue.

          They may also tell you what they think you want to hear, but when pressed for more information, they won’t have anything to add. Their knowledge is superficial. No matter how much you try to encourage discussion, they will not be able to carry on a conversation about the subject.

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          Wolves Are Everywhere

          As much as we want to believe that everyone has the best intentions, it isn’t always the case. Some people only do things to benefit themselves, and they don’t care who they hurt in the process.

          Wolves in sheep’s clothing can be found in almost every setting. You can’t get rid of them, but if you can spot them, you can avoid falling into their traps.

          Reference

          [1] Association of Biblical Counselors: Three Ways to Spot a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
          [2] Power of Positivity: Beware of a wolf in sheep’s clothing

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