It’s not easy to be a totally proper person. Every person has their quirks. Maybe you crack your gum, maybe you forget to text your date back after meeting them, or maybe you bring your dog with you everywhere you go. While these actions aren’t great, in the scheme of things, they’re mildly irritating and not straight-up rude. However, there are 12 etiquette mistakes are worse than others.
It’s not as if arriving to a party empty-handed, RSVPing after the deadline, or forgetting to regularly say “please” and “thank you” are unforgivable, but they are particularly rude actions that you may not even realize are major breaches of etiquette. And that’s OK! Proper manners can be hard to nail down.
And while you should never put your elbows on the table, the worst etiquette mistakes you can make aren’t always that obvious. But it’s OK if you’re a little rude now. Once you learn these mistakes, it’s easy to correct course and become a more polite person. Want to know if you’re accidentally breaking modern rules of etiquette on the regular? Click through and check out the worst etiquette mistakes you can make.
Even if an invitation says to not bring a gift, you should always offer your host or hostess a little token of appreciation. It can be as small as a bottle of wine or a six-pack of beer. But the best hostess gifts are personalized. Does your friend like a certain candle scent? Are they big fans of decorative spoons? Put a personal spin on your present to be a guest no one will forget!
Sure, you can easily text someone to let them know you're running 20 minutes behind — but that doesn't mean you should allow yourself the opportunity to run 20 minutes behind. If you promise to be somewhere at 1 p.m., make it your duty to be there at 1 p.m. Lateness is definitely a habit you should break long before you turn 40.
You may not think much of introducing someone when making small talk, but it’s such an important life skill! Think about it: 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. So be kind! Make introductions. It’s an easy way to be more polite.
So much of party planning comes down to the numbers, from table settings to catering menus to the number of chairs. To be the best-ever guest, you’ll want to give a prompt response to allow your host and their vendors as much time as possible to make arrangements. That means you have 24 hours to RSVP.
There are a lot of nice things you need to say more often, but “please” and “thank you” are the biggest two. Whenever you ask for a favor or whenever someone extends a small but kind gesture, throw these phrases out. People like to be appreciated, even in this tiny way.
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 finger-pointing. If you need to indicate a direction or another person, consider an open handed gesture or a two-finger point.
We get it. You’re in love! And truly, that’s amazing. We hope you and your partner have many romantic evenings together. However, try to keep your romantic feelings as private as possible. It doesn’t matter who you are, PDA acts like kissing, groping, licking, and excessive hugging should be kept to your bedroom.
Elbows should never rest on the table. There’s a simple, practical reason to explain this one: If you’re leaning forward with your arms on the table, not only will you definitely be slouching, but you’ll also almost certainly be blocking the conversation from flowing around you. With your body leaning forward over the table as you rest your arms on it, you’ll be interrupting other guests, even if you don’t realize you’re being rude.
There’s an art to tipping, but a general guideline is that when you are at a sit-down restaurant, you tip your server 20 percent of the check. Something that is never OK? Giving your server no tip. Whether or not you like them, tips are an important part of a server’s income, and stiffing them is incredibly rude, no matter how bad the service is, you should always give at least 15 percent.
The easiest way to become a pro at small talk? Learn how to listen. Everyone likes to talk about themselves, but when you’re engaged in a pleasant conversation, don’t forget to ask your conversation partner plenty of questions and listen to their answers. You never know what you may learn about another person!
Some people don’t care for seafood, but no one cares for seeing your food. Everyone is taught not to speak with one’s mouth full from a young age, and it’s something that should never be forgotten. Even if someone has asked you a question and you’re desperate to answer but you’ve got your mouth full, finish what you’re eating before you reply. If you don’t, and you instead shower your fellow diner with crumbs, you can be sure that they won’t be asking you any more questions for the rest of the evening.
No matter how entertaining that text or funny that tweet is, resist the urge to check your phone during a real-life conversation with someone. If you happen to be expecting an important call, let the people around you know before you start your evening and only check your cellphone when absolutely necessary. And if you had a question on whether or not this behavior is OK, we bet you need these other etiquette questions answered, too.
More From The Daily Meal:
21 Most Common Table Etiquette Mistakes
11 Tips for Making a Great Impression on a First Date
15 Ways You Didn’t Know You Were Being a Terrible Party Guest
The 20 Rudest Things You Can Do in a Restaurant
10 Ways Southerners Are Way More Polite Than You