66 People Share Unwritten Rules Of Life They Think Everyone Should Live By

There are certain things in life that should just go without saying: Don’t leave empty containers in the fridge. If you see someone trip while they’re walking, just avert your eyes and pretend you didn’t see a thing. Never comment on another person’s weight or say anything negative about their appearance. And please, say please and thank you!

There are plenty of rules that our parents instilled in us as children that we’ll never forget, but we didn’t all learn the same rules. So we’ve gone through a couple of Reddit threads where people shared the unwritten rules of life that they think everyone should be living by, to help you pandas, or anyone else out there, who might want to adopt some of these philosophies.

From social etiquette we should all know to phrases you’re obligated to say when you see an adorable dog, this list is all about life’s little silent rules. Be sure to upvote the rules you agree with, and let us know in the comments any others that you’d like to add to the list. Keep reading to also find an interview we were lucky enough to receive from Jeff Leitner, founder of Unwritten Labs, and then if you’re interested in checking out another Bored Panda article discussing unspoken rules everyone should know, look no further than right here!      

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To gain more insight on the topic of life’s unspoken rules, we reached out to Jeff Leitner, founder of Unwritten Labs, which studied unwritten rules from 2018 to 2021. First, we were curious how Jeff defines unwritten rules and where his fascination for them came from. “There are two ways to explain what unwritten rules are — the technical, wonky way and the easy-to-understand way,” he told Bored Panda. “The wonky way is this: Unwritten rules are powerful, informal suggestions about how we should behave and what we should do to succeed in social environments.”

“The friendlier version is this: Unwritten rules are the ways we know we’re supposed to behave when we’re with other people, so they don’t give us dirty looks or stop being friends with us,” Jeff explained. “In families, unwritten rules are things like ‘Don’t air our personal business with outsiders’ or ‘Always defend your siblings.’ With friends, unwritten rules are things like ‘We don’t date each other’s exes’ or ‘We stop each other from doing stupid things.’ At work, unwritten rules are directives like ‘Don’t leave the office if your team is on a deadline’ or ‘Always defer to colleagues with more seniority.’”

“I got interested in unwritten rules when a colleague and I were trying to figure out how to solve big social problems, like hunger and homelessness,” Jeff shared. “We saw that our society has everything it needs to solve those problems, but that social norms (which are unwritten rules at scale) were getting in the way. After that, I got interested in a few related ideas, like how all organizations actually run on unwritten rules.”

We were also curious if Jeff agrees with many unwritten rules or if he thinks we should view them critically and question them. “As weird as they can be, unwritten rules actually keep our organizations, families, and societies together,” he noted. “Think about it — when was the last time you read the employee handbook at work? Maybe when you first started, if your company even has an employee handbook? No, you know how to behave at work — who to be nice to, who to avoid, how to do your work — based on hundreds of unwritten rules you picked up by watching your colleagues.”

“Now that isn’t to say that there aren’t unwritten rules that get in our way,” Jeff added. “We’ve all done stupid things because of peer pressure, which is essentially unwritten rules on steroids.”

“As for questioning unwritten rules, good luck with that,” Jeff told Bored Panda. “Most of the time, we’re following them unconsciously. We’re so accustomed to watching everybody for social cues and then doing what they do that we’re generally unaware we’re doing it — hundreds of times a day. And research has shown that we don’t like the idea that we’re responding to social pressure and unwritten rules. We’d rather believe that we’re strong-minded individualists — even if we’re really not.”

When it comes to unwritten rules Jeff considers beneficial, he shared that he likes rules that tell us not to “punch down”, or pick on people who have less power than us. “If you think about it, there aren’t really written rules that prohibit bullying. We count on unwritten rules to tell people not to do it,” he explained. 

“I don’t like the unwritten rules that tell us to ‘stay in your lane’,” Jeff added. “I think we defer way too much to so-called experts, who just keep doing things the way they were taught to do them. If we could somehow get rid of those unwritten rules, I suspect we could spark a lot of new ideas and solve a bunch more problems.”

66 People Share Unwritten Rules Of Life They Think Everyone Should Live By Not everybody is your friend, be careful who you vent to. Many people only want juicy gossip and don’t give a s**t about you or your problems

psyclopsus , Antoni Shkraba Report

Jeff also touched on how the unwritten rules in a workplace might not be clear to everyone. He noted that it’s common for, within a company, an employer to not know the unwritten rules of their employees. “There are a couple of reasons for that. One, the unwritten rules don’t really apply to them,” he explained. “Bosses tend not to be as vulnerable to having fellow employees irritated with them. Two, some of the unwritten rules actually function as tips on how to work around the boss — how to stay on their good side, how to get the best projects, or how to get promoted.”

66 People Share Unwritten Rules Of Life They Think Everyone Should Live By It never hurts to compliment somebody on the quality of their work, their hobbies and whatever field is most important to their self esteem. It always goes a long way.

High-Time-Cymbaline , Antoni Shkraba Report

So how much power do life’s unwritten rules wield? “In short, unwritten rules are crazy, crazy powerful,” Jeff says. “Unwritten rules — the ones we’re aware of and the many, many ones we’re not aware of — have much more to do with how we behave than anything else. They are more powerful than written rules, our individual instincts, and our horoscope.”

“We’ve been wired to process unwritten rules for at least 200,000 years, long before we invented language. And while getting kicked out of the tribe isn’t fatal like it was back then, our biology and psychology still take unwritten rules really, really seriously.”

If you’d like to learn more about Jeff’s Unwritten Labs project, be sure to visit its website right here. And then if you’d like to learn more about Jeff’s other work and read some of his writing, you can find his website right here.

66 People Share Unwritten Rules Of Life They Think Everyone Should Live By If you saw someone stealing formula, diapers or food, no you didn’t

huh_phd , 7C0 Report

66 People Share Unwritten Rules Of Life They Think Everyone Should Live By Be kind to people that are working. Food staff, medical staff, etc. Don’t take your bad day out on someone else.

sas1013 , Ketut Subiyanto Report

Sometimes, it feels like life would be so much simpler if everything was just spelled out for us. And while that might become incredibly boring over time, we can experience a little bit of it right here for the next few minutes, by reading through this collection of life’s unspoken rules. Keep upvoting the rules you agree with and try to abide by yourself, and feel free to share any more rules for a better life in the comments below. Then if you’d like to dive even deeper into life’s unspoken rules, you can find another Bored Panda article on the same topic right here!   

66 People Share Unwritten Rules Of Life They Think Everyone Should Live By Never make fun of someone else’s laugh, be it how they sound or how they look. Laughing is the most natural expression of joy and happiness and for someone to feel self-conscious about that because of other’s comments is so brutal

ArthurMcSlothington , Jonathon Burton Report

If someone does something unintentionally embarrassing or awkward you pretend it didn’t happen and if they look at you you just smile and look away.

WolfThick Report

You are the person you spend the most time with. Be someone you like.

efrosi Report

If you have to cancel on a friend, it should be your responsibility to reschedule

Havoo Report

Don’t mess up an apology with an excuse.

MHE17 Report

Don’t be rude to people who prepare/ deliver your food.

Dartagod Report

If they will cheat *with* you, then they will cheat *on* you.

PJMurphy Report

If you don’t understand something someone is telling you, say so instead of pulling an “opinion” on the topic out of your a*s. There is no shame in not knowing or understanding something. Refusing to admit you don’t know and by extension refusing to learn something new because your ego is hurt is gravely misguided, however.

devilish-WiFi Report

There is absolutely no shame in going to therapy or talking to someone about your mental health.

jmedi11 Report

If you lack confidence, fake it. Constantly. After a while you won’t have to fake anymore.

rhoque90 Report

Don’t put your music on speakers when in a public space. It’s not like everyone wants the same genre or was in the mood for music. Get your headphones.

MedschoolgirlMadison Report

When driving a car, don’t be nice, be predictable. People being nice leads to a s**tload of accidents.

Tauqmuk181 Report

If someone asks you a question, finish what you’re saying with, “what about you?”

Enjoy noticing how many people actually don’t do this.

thakrustykrabpizza Report

I live by this rule I made after thinking about things late at night.

If someone does something that makes them happy and confident. If it doesn’t hurt them or anyone else, animals included. Then leave them alone, let them do that thing. Let them be happy.

SpottyBoi Report

Admit when you’ve done something wrong.

Trust your gut.

Nobody thinks as much about you as yourself.

Be kind. Don’t be an a*****e.

If you need help and it is available, ask for it, take it.

Just because you apologize doesn’t mean the other party has to forgive and forget.

_space_platypus_ Report

Life actually sucks a lot of the time. If you expect to be happy all the time, you will be sorely disappointed and lost. Instead, work up a resilience to the hard times and take your time to enjoy the good times.

manofredgables Report

You have a choice at every instance of your life. Sure each choice has its own consequence but again it is a choice. Whether you take a decision or not, it is also a choice.

honest_wtf Report

Never cheap out on something between you and the ground. Never cheap out on a bed and shoes.

You spend 1/3 of your life sleeping, a good quality sleep is everything. Good shoes can mean the difference between an 8hr shift vs a 12hr shift.

I’m old.

RONNiEpoe Report

Life is too hard to be anyone except yourself. If you’re not sure who you really are, try to find out as early as you can on your own terms because otherwise you’ll still find out, just probably in some really tough times

lejindarymj Report

Life isn’t a TV show or a movie. Things won’t happen because “they’re meant to happen”. Sometimes you’ve got to create your own luck.

HitItAnd_Quidditch Report

If a child waves, you wave back. If a child says hello, you say hello back. If a child calls you on an imaginary hand-telephone, you take the call on your imaginary hand-telephone.

FourWordComment Report

Never talk about how easy something was to get done whether it be a school assignment, task at work, or just something like a hobby of yours. You never know who you’re putting down around you.

rpdreon98 Report

If you’re on public transport and you see a pregnant woman or elderly person standing you give them your seat

miss_ann_thrope666 Report

1:
Just because someone is of a higher status than you doesn’t mean that you’re below them as a human being. Stand your ground even when you think you’re wrong or if you think your opinion might be worth less.

2:
Fighting as an adult doesn’t make you look cool, it makes you look stupid.

3:
Don’t desperately look for love, but also don’t ignore it.

MerKa1435 Report

Never trust anyone who proclaims to have answers to unanswerable questions. ie: what happens after you die.

loudmouthedmonkey Report

If someone has headphones in public do not go talk to them. Unless someone is dying and you need their help, LEAVE THEM

TenTwenty122 Report

You can be wrong. It isn’t a bad thing, either. And when you are wrong, acknowledge it, and learn from it, you don’t need to dig down in your beliefs to try and comfort yourself because you can’t handle not being right all the time.

untakenu Report

Turn on your headlights when it’s snowing. I’m talking to you asshole with the white truck.

dpcaxx Report

DON’T USE THE URINAL IN YOUR DREAM! You’ll thank me later.

Yhslaw1 Report


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