The Worst Etiquette Mistakes You Can Make

Most people know basic rules of etiquette. You know, those rules that say you should never put your elbows on the table or close the door in someone's face. However, some of the worst etiquette mistakes you can make aren't quite that obvious. Once you learn these mistakes, it's easy to correct course and become a more polite person.

Arriving to a party empty-handed

It's almost always a good idea to bring a small token of appreciation if you've been invited over to a friend's house for game night, to a housewarming party or even to a simple backyard barbecue. What you bring should depend on the occasion. For a casual dinner party, a six-pack of beer is totally appropriate. Flowers are also a great gift for any host, especially if it's a bouquet with a special meaning.

Asking prying questions

You may genuinely want grandkids or think it's innocent to ask someone why they're a server when they hold a college degree, but there are some questions you may not even realize are rude. Think about the implications of your query before starting a potentially touchy topic of conversation.

Being generally rude

Everyone has their bad days, but it's important to recognize if you're constantly belittling others, getting angry and talking short with people. 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.

Being late

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 feel the need to add a little color to your sentences from time to time, especially when in a frustrating or infuriating situation. But the most polite people know to watch their mouths, especially when in the workplace. Cursing or even using a particularly harsh or brash tone is one of the worst office etiquette mistakes you can make.

Failing to introduce someone

You may not think much of introducing someone when making small talk, but it's an important life skill. Think about it: You're talking to a friend. Another person walks up and you ask how they've been. That person says great, you say great, and then they're on their way. The first friend just got a dose of what it feels like to be Mr. or Ms. Unimportant, so make introductions. It's an easy way to be more polite.

Forgetting to RSVP

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 — that means within a matter of a few days — to allow your host and their vendors as much time as possible to make arrangements.

Forgetting to say please and thank you

Of all of the manners you should teach your children, reminding them (and yourself) to say "please" and "thank you" is important. 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.


Gossiping about other people really says more about you than it does about them. There are plenty of good reasons why you should stop gossiping. This habit breeds negativity, can hurt others' feelings and can even have real repercussions on you in the workplace.

Not listening

Part of being a good conversationalist is knowing when to stop talking and when to listen instead. Focus on active listening, which means hearing what another person has to say without worrying about your response and listening until your conversation partner has come to a natural stopping point. This is just one of the best ways to build better relationships.

Public displays of affection

So you're in love and it's truly amazing. It would be polite to keep those romantic feelings as private as possible. It can be hard to know what PDA is OK and what is not, but overly loving activities in public is one of those etiquette mistakes you didn't know you were making.

Stiffing a server

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% of the pre-tax check. Something that is not OK? Giving your server no tip. Whether or not you like them, tips are an important part of a server's income. So no matter how bad the service is, you should give at least 15%. Not doing so is one of the worst things you can do at a restaurant.

Talking about just yourself

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.

Talking with your mouth full

Most people are 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.

Texting while in the company of others

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 phone etiquette rules you need to know.

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