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 just mildly irritating and not straight-up rude. However, there are some etiquette mistakes are worse than others.
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.
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!
There are a lot of questions you may not realize are rude, and that includes prying questions. Inquiring about when people are going to have kids, why they haven’t gotten a higher paying job or what race they are can be seriously hurtful.
Everyone has their bad days, but if you’re constantly belittling others, getting angry and talking short with people, it’s time for an attitude adjustment. Treat others the way you want to be treated. That means you should greet others with a smile, be thankful when others help you out and have a positive attitude on life. If you need help, there are a lot of tips and tricks for being a kinder person.
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 one of the habits 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.
It can be difficult to know who should pay the bill when you’re on a date or out with a large group of friends, but you should never assume someone else is going to cover your tab. Even if you’re at a dinner with your mom and dad and know they’re going to pick up the check, it’s polite to at least offer to pay.
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. While it can be hard to know what PDA is OK and what is not, it’s best to keep acts like kissing, groping, licking and excessive hugging 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 — so no matter how bad the service is, you should always give at least 15 percent. Not doing so is one of the worst things you can do at a restaurant.
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. Doing otherwise would make you a victim to one of the most common table etiquette mistakes.
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. Making sure that you’re paying attention to those you are with is just one of the many old etiquette rules we need to bring back.
More from The Daily Meal:
12 Ways You’re Being Rude at the Grocery Store
25 Things You Should Never Do at a Wedding
Should You Still Call a Woman ‘Ma’am’? and Other Modern Etiquette Questions Answered
10 Little-Known Etiquette Rules You’re Likely Breaking (We Certainly Are)
How Etiquette Has Changed Since the ‘90s