You've been cruising through life, thinking you've got everything figured out. However, you've noticed that some people give you funny looks, or you are left off the guest list of some of the best parties. Have you considered the possibility that you might be making some etiquette mistakes?
Here are some things you shouldn't do:
- Not introducing others. If you are standing with someone, and another friend or acquaintance walks up, you should make an introduction. Not doing so is rude. You might be uncomfortable if you have forgotten one of their names, but it's okay to apologize for forgetting. A simple, "I'm sorry, but I don't recall your name," will suffice. And then once you have the person's name, make the introduction.
- Not sending an RSVP. When someone invites you to a wedding or dinner party, always send the RSVP. Not doing so can mess up the host's planning. If you are unsure of whether or not you can attend, let the host know with the promise of confirming as soon as possible. Then follow through once you are certain. Don't keep the host hanging, or you might find that you don't get an invitation the next time she throws a party.
- Requesting to see someone's house. When you are a guest in someone's home—whether it's for a dinner party or an overnight stay—it isn't appropriate to request a tour of the whole house. The host will take you on a tour if he wants you to see it. Asking for a tour of the house is rude, an invasion of personal space, and can make the host uncomfortable if some of the rooms are closed for a reason.
- Requesting specific food. If you are invited to someone's home for dinner, it isn't polite to ask for certain foods. However, it is fine to let the host know if you have allergies or any religious restrictions so she can let you know what is okay or not okay for you to eat. You still shouldn't expect the host to cater to your dietary needs. You can eat around whatever is available, or if it is okay with your host, bring something to share. At least you'll know that there is one food you can eat.
- Making people uncomfortable. Stop and think about how you behave in front of your friends. Are you rude to servers at restaurants? Do you tell inappropriate jokes? Do you show too much affection to your significant other in public? If you can't pinpoint anything, ask a trusted friend who'll be honest with you.
- Putting someone on speakerphone without her permission. You should always tell the person that she is on speakerphone because she needs to know who her audience is. Not telling her is rude because she might say something that is meant for your ears only. Put yourself in her position and imagine how you'd feel if you unknowingly shared some sensitive information with a group of people.
- Expecting a hostess gift to be shared during the party. When you visit someone, it's always a good idea to bring a gift that the host or hostess can use later, after you leave. You may be asked to bring a dish to share or a bottle of wine, but the hostess gift is separate. Hand the hostess gift to the person at the door as soon as she answers it.
- Not responding to email. Even if someone sent you an email that doesn't require a response, you should send back a brief message that you received it. That is a courtesy that prevents misunderstanding or the other person having to follow up and ask for a confirmation.
- Using preprinted labels on wedding invitations. When you send a wedding invitation, you should handwrite the addresses. This shows your attention to detail and lets the person know that she is special enough for you to take the time to write her name and address on the envelope.
- Forgetting the vendors at the wedding or reception. It is always good form to provide food for the wedding vendors, including the photographers, the DJ, and anyone else who is at the wedding.