12 Etiquette Rules You Are Probably Breaking

Woman using cell phone at grocery store checkout

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Good manners don't grow on trees. They have to be learned, preferably at an early age from parents who spend time teaching etiquette and reminding when the rules are broken.

Not Knowing Proper Etiquette

So what's a person to do when his or her parents don't know right from wrong in the etiquette department? Or what if you weren't paying attention? That's a problem but one you can solve if you care enough to do the right thing.

If you don't know how to behave, how can you be expected to mind your manners? And if you don't mind your manners, how can you expect people to want to be around you? It's time to take responsibility for your behavior, learn proper etiquette, and put those good manners into practice.

Manners/ Rules People Break the Most

Here are some of the manners rules that are most commonly broken:

  1. Forgetting to introduce people. When you are with two or more people who don't know each other, you should introduce them. If you aren't sure of someone's name, be honest about it and ask for it. It might be momentarily embarrassing, but not as much as saying the wrong name.
  2. Taking a call on your cell phone when you are at the cash register. Doing this is not only rude you'll hold up the line and perhaps miss something important that the cashier needs to tell you.
  3. Forgetting about the presence of service people. When you dine out, have repairs done on the house, or visit the hairdresser, remember your manners. Even if you're deep in conversation with the person you're dining with, don't ignore the server when she arrives at your table. If you need a few more minutes to make a decision, let her know. While it's fine to go about your business while the plumber is fixing your sink, be nearby to answer questions. The customer next to you at the hair salon might be extremely interesting and fun to chat with, but remember that unless you communicate with your hairdresser, you won't get the style you want.
  4. Yelling at the children in public. Parents who lose their tempers out in public need to spend more time disciplining their children in private. This includes teaching them manners and letting them know beforehand what the consequences will be for bad behavior.
  5. Boasting about anything. Bragging comes natural to most people, especially when they feel one-upped by others. Just remember that boasting is rude and inconsiderate, no matter how fast your cool new car can take you from zero to eighty.
  6. Coughing or sneezing on others. If you don't feel well, stay home. You don't need to be spreading cold and flu germs just because you feel entitled to be out and about.
  7. Blatantly eavesdropping. Sure, it's fun to listen in on other people's conversations, but how would you feel if someone else did that to you? Give people space if possible, and if you can't, try to tune them out. There's some stuff you just don't need to know.
  8. Gagging your coworkers and friends with fragrance. That may be your favorite perfume, but not everyone else will feel the same way. In fact, some people are deathly allergic to fragrance. When you work in close proximity to others, refrain from applying extra fragrance that can make your coworkers sick. This also applies to times when you know you'll be in any crowded place.
  9. Being bossy or argumentative. Your friend or sister might have told you a problem that you know how to fix in your sleep, but don't offer advice unless you're asked for it. Telling other people what to do is annoying and might send people walking a wide berth around you. Along the same lines is arguing. Sometimes a topic is worth sticking up for. However, if you don't have a solid reason to dig your heels in, let it go. For example, if you're with a bunch of people who disagree with you politically, state your opinions, listen to the others, and then agree to change the subject. Seldom will you change someone's views by arguing or being bossy.
  10. Hogging equipment at the gym. Interval training is a great way to stay in shape, but don't take up three pieces of equipment when other people are waiting in line. Step aside and let someone else work out.
  11. Blocking traffic in a public place. When you spot a long-lost friend at the mall, pull her to the side to catch up. Standing in the middle of the traffic pattern will get you some dirty looks and may even cause injury if someone isn't aware that you've stopped.
  12. Being indecisive about an RSVP. If you're not sure you'll be able to attend someone's dinner party or other event, be open and honest. If weeks or days go by and you still don't know, send your regrets so the person can invite someone else in your place.

Never Too Late

Regardless of your age or position in life, it's never too late to learn good manners. The key to improving your etiquette is having the desire to change your behavior. You might be surprised by the positive reactions you get from others.