Etiquette Mistakes Not to Make

By Debby Mayne |

Do you have a friend who never embarrasses you when you’re together? Have you ever seen someone who appeared refined in all situations? Is there someone you always look to when you’re not sure which fork to use?

The answers to all of the questions above will tell you the names of people who rarely make etiquette mistakes. They know the rules, and they’ve practiced them enough to follow them without too much thought.

This can be you too. Even if you don’t currently know all of the etiquette rules, you can still learn and practice them until they become second nature. Eventually, your friends and acquaintances will look to you for the proper way to act.

Etiquette mistakes you should stop making:

  1. Chronic cell phone use – If you’re one of those people who constantly chats, texts, and stares at your cell phone, regardless of where you are or who you are with, stop. It’s rude. Be where you physically are at the moment and give those around you your full attention. If your phone rings, ignore it until you’re in a more private setting. Or better yet, turn it off before you’re with others. When a text comes in, resist the urge to respond. It can wait.
  2.  Constantly interrupt – Do you always have to make your opinion known? Do you always have to have the last word? If you constantly interrupt others, you’ll wind up doing all of the talking, and no one will want to be around you. Let other people finish what they have to say before you speak, and they will appreciate the fact that you care about what they have to say.
  3. Forget to introduce – When an old friend approaches you while you’re with a new friend or relative, introduce them before you break into conversation. If you forgot one of their names, apologize for your memory lapse and ask for it.
  4. Ignore party manners – Whether it’s a formal dinner party or a casual get-together to watch a sporting event on TV, don’t forget to follow through with proper party etiquette. The first thing to do is RSVP so the host knows who will be in attendance. Arrive on time for a dinner party or close to the designated time for any other type of gathering, and bring a host or hostess gift. Engage in appropriate conversation for the event. Pay attention to the host’s body language and leave before he has to throw you out. Later, send a nice thank you note letting him know how much you appreciate his hospitality.
  5. Ask nosy questions – There are certain things you should never ask others, particularly if you barely know them. If the person wants you to know the answers, she will eventually tell you after you’ve established and developed a relationship. Asking rude questions will put her on the spot and make her very uncomfortable, possibly even preventing her from wanting to be around you again.
  6. Ask for special treatment – Whether you are going to someone’s dinner party or just hanging out with friends, don’t expect to be treated in a special way that sets you apart from the others. Of course, if someone is preparing food, let him know of any allergies or religious restrictions you may have. Or if your friends are about to do something that you consider morally wrong, you should gracefully bow out.
  7. Argue over a check – Any discussion of money and who will pay the bill at a restaurant should be handled before you go. Doing otherwise embarrasses those around you and puts the server in an awkward position. This is something that should be handled in a low-key manner that doesn’t call attention to who is or isn’t paying for the meal.
  8. Be late – You should never be late for anything. Do thorough planning to make sure you are always on time If you see that circumstances beyond your control are pulling you behind, contact the other person as early as possible. Remember that if you’re late, someone has to wait for you. I’m sure she has other things she could be doing with her time that she’ll never get back.
  9. Be rude – When you are out and about, be aware of other people around you and be gracious. Smile, offer a friendly greeting, and hold doors for others who might be struggling with packages, small children, or a disability. Show kindness to servers in restaurants and clerks in stores. They work hard to help you, so show respect to them in return and tip them well.
  10. Eat like a slob – Before you share a meal with others, learn some basic table manners. These rules aren’t difficult to learn and follow, and they can make the difference between always having someone to go to lunch with or having to eat alone because you embarrass others.

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