There are a lot of questions regarding proper etiquette. Should you shake hands or hug? What should you do with your purse at the dinner table? Is it rude to leave food on your plate at the end of the meal? And while we know the answers to those common etiquette questions, it’s still remarkably easy to break the rules of etiquette and be rude without knowing it.
Luckily, once you learn these lesser-known rules, you’re likely to never break them again. And that’s an easy way to become a more polite person. Want to get started now? Good. Read on to see the etiquette rules you’re probably breaking.
There’s no wrong way to eat a meal, unless you’re trying to be as proper as possible. According to Emily Post, you’re only supposed to cut up one piece of food at a time. That means even if you intend on scarfing down three pieces of steak in a row, you should take the time between bites to cut your food into small pieces. And think about it, watching someone feverishly cut up an entire piece of meat and a serving of vegetables at once can be a bit confounding. Doing this and rushing through a meal is just one of the most common table etiquette mistakes.
Napkin etiquette is way more difficult than you might think. You may think that gently folding your napkin and putting it to the left of your plate is the way to go when you get up from the table. And while some etiquette experts say this is fine, the most proper thing to do is to gently fold your napkin and place it on your chair.
There are a lot of rude things you can do at a restaurant, but the most egregious violation of etiquette is shockingly common. Don’t whistle and shout at, flag down or touch a server if you need their attention. That refill on your Diet Coke or your dessert order can wait a moment. Your server is a busy employee. Just kindly make eye contact, and they’ll be with you at the next available moment.
Everyone needs to step into the restroom during a dinner or pleasant conversation at some point in their life. It’s not rude to leave a gathering to relieve yourself, but you know what is a breach of etiquette? Announcing that you’re going to go to the bathroom. Just say you need to step away for a moment and then return. This is just one small part of making small talk like a pro.
In most of the world, it’s a major faux pas to point using your index finger at all, let alone at another person. And think about it: What phrase do you hear when someone is accusing someone else of a wrongdoing? They’re pointing fingers. If you need to indicate a direction or another person, consider an open-handed gesture or a two-finger point.
Once you receive an invitation, you have 24 hours to RSVP. We know life can be busy and you don’t want to make plans until you’re sure you can commit to them, but planning events is expensive. It’s best to RSVP as soon as you can. And if you have to wait until the last minute, let the host know that you received the invite and will let him or her know if you can attend when your schedule allows it. Oh, and no matter what you do, don’t just bring a random friend as your plus-one.
Have you ever been in a conversation with a person who is constantly looking around? It feels so rude, right? Nothing says “I don’t want to be here” quite like roaming eyes in the middle of an evening. It’s proper etiquette to stay engaged with the people you’re spending your time with, so try to maintain some semblance of eye contact. Not being engaged in a conversation is actually one of the worst etiquette mistakes you can make.
Wait, gossiping is rude? Oh, yes, it is, and it’s the most common breach of etiquette and a truly toxic behavior that’s wrecking your relationships. And while we all love a good story, there are plenty of reasons not to participate in gossip. It can harm the reputation of others (wrongly) and it can come back to you and make you look worse. Find something else to talk about; it isn’t hard to do.
We all know how much easier it is to text or email rather than call or — gasp! — talk to someone in person. But human contact is still important, especially if the relationship or topic of discussion is important or a little sensitive. If you’re discussing a serious subject or even just having a lengthy conversation, it’s much more proper (and efficient) to just pick up the phone or meet for a coffee at a great local spot.
Sometimes, you just need to vent — we get it. And while your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account is your own, your online presence is important. Not only can this be a stranger's first impression of you, how you portray yourself online can also be a make-or-break piece of the puzzle when it comes to job searches or your dating life.
You may not talk on the phone as often as you used to, but it’s still good to know proper phone etiquette. The first rule of phone etiquette regards the very first thing you do on the phone: greet someone. It’s considered rude to just casually say your name, “What’s up?” or “Why’d you call?” when you pick up. The proper way to answer the phone is also the easiest. Just say, “Hello.” Remembering how to talk to others is just one of the old etiquette rules we need to bring back.
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