Don’t be rude.
Well, sometimes, that’s easier said than done. Everyday behaviours that seem normal to us might come across poorly to others. It’s important to check back with yourself every once in a while, to ensure that you’re not rubbing people the wrong way.
Business Insider spoke with business communications expert, speaker, and “The Communication Clinic: 99 Proven Cures for the Most Common Business Mistakes” author Barbara Pachter. She shared a handful of etiquette red flags that make you look like you’ve forgotten — or never learned — your manners.
Here are some common behaviours to avoid, lest you come across as rude:
1. You forget to say 'thank you'
Expressing gratitude is a crucial part of leading a fulfilling life. If you're in the habit of failing to thank those who've helped you, it's bound to catch up with you.
'If someone helps you, wishes you well, or gives you a compliment, it's polite to say 'thank you,'' Pachter says. 'And it is rude if you don't. You are acknowledging the person's actions or comments. Also, you have to reply 'thank you' or 'thanks' to someone who has emailed you information that you requested. It drives people crazy when they send information to someone and don't hear anything back.'
2. You interrupt people
Even if it's done innocuously, no one likes speaking with someone who talks over them.
'People become annoyed when others interrupt them, as it means the original speaker's opinions, thoughts, or ideas are no longer being heard,' Pachter says.
3. You don't write thank you notes
'Etiquette requires that you write a thank you note if you receive a gift, visit the home of a boss or colleague, are a guest at a meal, or interview for a job,' Pachter says.
4. You ask very personal questions
'You can embarrass people or get an answer you didn't expect or want,' Pachter says. 'Plus, the answers to these types of questions are not your business.'
There's a time and a place for deep, probing questions, but the important thing is to avoid making people feel uncomfortable. If you want a person to open up to you, stick to easy questions and talking about their interests.
5. You forget your table manners
'This includes ordering the most expensive item on the menu, holding your fork like a pitchfork, or being disrespectful to the wait staff,' Pachter says. 'Your mothers were right -- table manners do matter.'
6. You're attached to your phone
Thanks to technology, it's easier than ever to be rude to those around you.
'This can be placing your cell phone on the table when meeting with others, answering your phone (cell or regular) when meeting with someone, or texting under the table while in a meeting,' Pachter says. 'These actions demonstrate poor manners, as you are not giving people your full attention.'
7. You fail to introduce people
It's important to be able to introduce yourself properly in a social or professional setting. But it's equally important to master the skill of introducing your connections to one another.
'Your lack of an introduction can make others feel uncomfortable,' Pachter says.
8. You misuse social media
Always think things over before you publish anything potentially risqué, whether you're blasting your boss or sharing pictures from the time you got sloppy drunk and tried to recreate the 'Friends' opening by jumping in a fountain.
'People have criticised their boss and colleagues, posted offensive photos, and put people down,' Pachter says. 'These type of postings are distasteful and hurt other people. Plus, you can be reprimanded or fired because of them. If you are having difficulty with someone, talk to the person.'
9. You don't offer to help people
'If someone (male or female) is struggling with packages or seems overloaded with assignments, assisting that person is a nice thing to do,' Pachter says.
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