There’s simply no denying that our society has become increasingly casual. Long gone are the days of formal dinner parties, wearing suits and ties to work and drinking only one glass of Champagne at a party. And that’s a good thing! People are far more relaxed these days and thus can connect with one another in new ways.
But just because you’re comfortable doesn’t mean that you can be rude. In fact, following proper etiquette may be more important now than ever! And no, we don’t just mean knowing what to do with your napkin at a formal dinner party or saying please and thank you.
Yes, being a proper person is as easy as being on time, knowing when to (and when not to) check your cell phone and remembering to be honest with your friends. These things are really easy not to do. With technology, it’s easy to check Twitter whenever you want or text your buddy that you’re running 15 minutes behind. But these actions are actually really, really rude!
Of course, these aren’t the only ways that you’re being an oblivious, improper person. Keep reading for 19 ways you didn’t know you were actually being rude.
Proper etiquette dictates that you actually need to respond to an RSVP within 24 hours. If you’re unsure whether or not you’ll be able to attend an event, call the host and let them know that you’ll need to check your schedule and RSVP at a later date. Waiting until the last minute just to wait and see is actually really rude to your host.
Just because you can easily text someone to let them know you’re running 20 minutes behind, doesn't mean you should allow yourself the opportunity run 20 minutes behind. If you promise to be somewhere at 1 p.m., make it your business to be there at 1 o’clock sharp. Give yourself a little cushion, if need be. The worst that can happen is you arrive early!
Arriving to a party without anything for the host makes it seem like the invite was no big deal. Whether you’re watching the game at a friend’s house or attending a formal dinner party, bring a little something to say you appreciate being included, be it a six-pack or a batch of cupcakes. On the other hand, if an invite indicates “no gifts please,” respect the host’s wishes.
It’s honestly really easy to fall into the trap of talking about yourself. After all, you are with yourself 24 hours a day and you may be really interesting. But trying to relay every story someone else tells back to you or talking exclusively about your job and your adventures really annoys everyone else around you. And it’s rude! Part of being a good conversationalist is asking others about themselves and truly listening. It’s all a part of knowing how to make small talk like a pro.
You have just the perfect thing to say! The only problem is, well, someone else is talking at the moment. Don’t worry, you’ll just cut them off and start your own anecdote. It’s fine because you’re so interesting! Actually, that’s not fine. Interrupting others, even when you have input, is particularly rude. Just wait your turn.
You’re talking to a friend. Another walks up and you ask how he’s been. He says great, you say great, and he’s on his way. The first friend just got a dose of what it feels like to be Mr. or Ms. Unimportant. Always attempt to make an introduction, and if you’re avoiding doing so because you forgot someone’s name, fess up and say so. Chances are you’ll never forget it again.
You may genuinely want to know when your children are going to start their own family, when they will be moving on to a new job or whether or not they’ll be moving back to their hometown anytime soon. But asking questions about sensitive topics, like family, money or priorities in life can actually be really rude. If someone is thinking about having children and wants to share that information with you, they’ll bring it up.
You may think that being direct is actually a rude behavior, but it’s much worse to be passive-aggressive. Talking around the issue and being indirect with another person instead of confronting them (with patience) head-on is far more offensive. Plus, everyone recognizes passive-aggressiveness when they encounter it; you’re not fooling anyone.
Talking a bit here and there behind someone else’s back or whispering about something you heard from someone about something may seem innocent enough and just a topic of conversation. However, gossiping has far-reaching and negative consequences you may not think about. So nip this habit in the bud. After all, there are a lot of good reasons why you should never gossip.
Little white lies may seem innocent. You just don’t feel like attending your friend’s dog’s birthday party? Don’t tell them your aunt is in town when really you’ll be at home with a bottle of rosé and Netflix. You don’t want to be overly honest to the point of being insulting, but be truthful with your friends.
This is the oldest etiquette rule in the books. Funny how the one rule our grandparents swore by is still one of the most broken today. Everyone wants to seem in-the-know. Remember, though, that there is a reason there are certain topics that are off-limits, especially when just meeting someone or sitting at the dinner table. If these touchy topics come up, diffuse the situation and change the topic as soon as you possibly can.
No matter how entertaining that text or funny that tweet, resist the urge to check your phone during a real-life conversation with someone. If you happen to be expecting an important call pertaining to a job or a family matter, let the person know before you start talking and only check when absolutely necessary.
Although your life may seem entertaining at times, you aren’t on a reality show. Turn off the speakerphone! The person on the other end might not want their half of the conversation being overheard by everyone in the elevator or in your office. Similarly, your conversation may be fascinating to you, but the people around you certainly don’t need (or want) to hear it.
Sure, it’s your Twitter/Instagram/Facebook account and you can say what you want. But your online personality is really a stranger’s first impression of you. And if you’re on the hunt for a job, significant other or new circle of friends, you can be sure that your accounts will be stalked by all of the above. Be conscious and aware of what you are posting, and if you’ve got strong feelings about something, choose an eloquent way to express yourself.
We all know how much easier it is to text 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. 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.
Everyone knows that snapping your fingers and saying “garçon!” is the epitome of being rude at a restaurant, but that’s not the only way you can annoy your server without even knowing it. Raising your hand in any manner, whether it’s to signal for a refill on your Diet Coke or waving the signature for your check, is rude. If you want your waiter’s attention, just try to make eye contact. They’ll notice you.
We all hate hangnails. But clipping your fingernails, brushing your hair, flossing your teeth or putting on your makeup are all things that need to be done in a bathroom, not on the subway or at your desk. Your coworkers and fellow commuters will thank you.
You’ve just finished drinking your seasonal latte from Starbucks but there’s no trash can in sight. No worries! You can just toss it on the floor at the mall or out of your car window. After all, it’s someone’s job to pick up trash, right? Wrong. Not only is littering bad for the environment, but it’s also a rude behavior.
Nothing says “I don’t want to be here” quite like roaming eyes in the middle of an evening. Your eyes should always remain focused on your party, regardless of how boring their photos of their nephew at the splash pad are. Be present and engaged with those around you. And if you questioned whether or not this behavior was rude, you probably need the answers to other modern etiquette queries.
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