The One Surprisingly Rude Thing You're Doing Every Day
You might think you're practicing good manners, but think again.
Having manners doesn't just mean using "please" and "thank you"—it means doing your best to make others comfortable, no matter the situation. Unfortunately, for many people, doing so is easier said than done. In fact, you're probably inadvertently making etiquette mistakes on a near-daily basis.
However, there's one particular etiquette error that's as common as it is egregious. According to etiquette coach Toni Dupree, CEO of Etiquette & Style by Dupree, unless you're intent upon making someone very uncomfortable, you should never congratulate them on a milestone they haven't yet made public—be it a pregnancy, marriage, or promotion. In the best-case scenario, you might prompt someone to talk about something they weren't ready to reveal, and in the worst-case scenario, you might say something that outright insults them. And if you want to make sure you're avoiding offense, brush up on these 25 Etiquette Rules That Have Changed in Your Lifetime.
"Always make conversation when you aren't sure of specifics, then comment or compliment," says Dupree. "This way makes the person feel that there is some interest in them," as well as giving them an opportunity to reveal the news if they see fit. That's not the only rude behavior you're likely engaging in on a regular basis, though. Read on to discover the etiquette mistakes you're making without realizing it. And if you want to avoid an embarrassing faux pas, This Is the Worst Thing You Could Write in a Greeting Card.
Publicly grooming yourself
Though a polished appearance is always a good thing, grooming anyone—including yourself, your children, or your spouse—in public is always rude. As Dupree notes, you need to "be mindful of boundaries" and only attend to private tasks—like grooming—in private. And if you're worried you're rubbing people the wrong way, This Is a Surefire Sign Other People Find You Annoying, Experts Say.
Bringing a gift when an invitation specifies otherwise
If an invitation says "no gifts," don't take that as a mere suggestion. What's the problem with going above and beyond? "It embarrasses the other guests that did not bring a gift," explains etiquette expert Jacquelyn Youst, president of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol.
Giving too many compliments
Not everyone loves being the center of attention, and giving too many compliments is a surefire way to make a person feel like they're being singled out. On top of that, "overdoing it comes across as contrived and insincere," says Youst. And for more great etiquette tips delivered to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Correcting someone's grammar
Though it might seem helpful to you to correct someone's grammar, it often comes across as downright rude. As Youst explains, all this does is "embarrass the person who made the error. Not every little faux pas needs to be pointed out."
Offering advice to a new parent
Being a new parent is hard enough without everyone putting their two cents in about how you're handling things. And while providing sage guidance when someone asks for it may be helpful, "unsolicited advice can be taken as an insult," explains Youst.
Ending a conversation with "let's get together soon" when you don't mean it
"Let's do this again soon" is such a common thing to say that it feels almost impossible not to tack it on when you're saying goodbye to someone. However, you should avoid saying this unless you actually mean it. When you offer up this phrase and don't follow through, Youst explains that "what seemed like a polite gesture turns into a lack of integrity." Worried your behavior isn't as polite as it could be? Then make sure you know The Rudest Thing You're Doing While Shopping.
Ordering wine to share
Who wouldn't love a good bottle of wine? Recovering alcoholics, pregnant people, and teetotalers, to name a few.
"Some individuals don't drink and might feel pressured to imbibe" if you order a bottle of wine for the table, explains dating expert Kelly Keating, founder of Modern Man Dating Advice. If you order a bottle and someone declines to indulge, don't push them to provide a reason—not everyone feels comfortable having their personal life become dinner table conversation, after all.
Calling a stranger "ma'am" or "sir"
Your parents probably taught you to refer to any adult as "sir" or "ma'am." The problem with doing so, however, is that you're guessing the gender identity of the person you're addressing, which may lead to offense.
"Instead of assuming that someone identifies with a male or female pronoun, it's always nice to ask," explains relationship expert and sex coach Carmel Jones with The Big Fling. Jones also notes that you should be careful using these terms as they may inadvertently make the addressee feel old. And if you want to stay on the right side of Emily Post, nix these 23 Rude Things You Didn't Realize You're Doing Every Day.
Apologizing in public
In movies, a public apology seems like the ultimate romantic gesture. In reality, though, these dramatic displays make the apology more about you than the person you're apologizing to—and make no mistake, they're definitely rude.
"Apologizing in public can cause a scene and make people feel uncomfortable," explains Jones. When it comes to saying sorry, she recommends waiting until you're in private to deliver a more heartfelt—and less theatrical—apology instead.
Standing up when a woman leaves the table
Etiquette once dictated that a man should stand up when a woman leaves the table. However, this rule no longer applies—and if you're still abiding by it, you might be causing serious offense.
According to elegance expert Jennifer Lynn, founder of Elegant Living Everyday, this behavior can be construed as rude because it draws an undue amount of attention to the woman leaving her seat. "[She] doesn't need everyone to watch her as she excuses herself to the ladies' room," Lynn explains.
Asking too many questions on a first date
Though it's good to take an interest in your date, you don't want to overdo it with questions. Not only will you come across as nosy if you do this, but your date may "feel pressured to reveal too much information and therefore feel uncomfortable," says Lynn. "It's great to be interested, but don't let them do all the talking."
Picking up someone early for a date
Though being early is usually a good thing, showing up to a date's house 20 minutes ahead of schedule puts unnecessary pressure on them. "People have busy schedules and perhaps need that extra time to get ready for the date," says Jones.
Insisting on paying for a date's meal
From your perspective, saving someone money by paying for their dinner is undeniably polite. Your date, however, might have a significantly different opinion on the matter.
If you're unsure how your companion feels about this gesture, "don't insist—suggest instead," says etiquette expert Adeodata Czink, founder of etiquette training school Business of Manners. "If she is dead against it, go Dutch."
Ordering dinner for someone
Not everyone is going to be keen on what you see as a take-charge attitude, so when in doubt, assume your date can order for themselves. If you're adamant about at least trying to order for the table, Czink suggests asking your date what they want, then asking if you can order for them. "If she says no, then let her order first," she recommends.
Holding the door for someone who's far behind you
Being polite and forcing someone to do a 50-yard dash to catch up to you are, unfortunately, mutually exclusive. Don't hold the door open for someone unless they're right behind you, says Czink.