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Three Etiquette Mistakes to Avoid

Posted on Wednesday, April 26, 2023
by AMAC, D.J. Wilson

Etiquette is defined as the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group. Saying please and thank you, pushing in your chair when you leave the table, and writing thank you cards after receiving gifts are examples of proper etiquette. Etiquette is more than just following rules. It encompasses factors such as civility, politeness, good manners, thoughtfulness, and consideration. Treating one another respectfully ultimately creates a positive atmosphere and promotes healthy relationships. Unfortunately, some behaviors and practices may harm one’s desire to model proper etiquette. Here are three common etiquette mistakes, reasons why one should stop making them, and a few solutions.

  1. Chronic lateness – Occasional lateness for a good reason such as a family emergency or flat tire is understandable. Habitual lateness, however, is not. The person who is chronically late sets themselves up to be viewed as unsteady and unreliable. This, in turn, can harm one’s ability to make a good impression. At work, it can ruin one’s chances of getting a raise or achieving a promotion. It’s important to note that there is value in time. When a person is late, they let other people down by making them wait or being undependable. Ways to avoid being late include valuing time and doing practical things such as organizing the night before when you must be somewhere early, waking up early and leaving plenty of time to get to your destination, sticking to a schedule, and not committing to things you cannot do.
  2. Failure to make eye contact – When greeting people or having conversations, avoiding eye contact is considered rude. Not only does making eye contact show respect for someone, but it demonstrates interest in what the other person is saying. It also helps to increase understanding, improve communication, and create a bond between people. Nervous or introverted people sometimes avoid eye contact, whereas a person who looks someone in the eye exudes confidence. Per NBC News, according to research, science shows that liars do not avoid eye contact any more than people stating the truth. The key is to watch eye movement deviation from their regular baseline. Still, failure to make eye contact when conversing expresses disinterest and it can kill a business deal. So, it’s best to be natural and make normal eye contact. Ways to improve include learning to tune out distractions, practicing eye contact and listening skills, and building self-confidence as needed.
  3. Failing to RSVP – It’s nearly impossible to organize an event without knowing how many people will be in attendance. Failed RSVPs can interfere with accommodations, food service, and seating arrangements, cause unexpected expenses, and dump mounds of stress on event planners. For these reasons, and more, invitees should respond to events on a timely basis. In some cases, guests will be asked to rsvp by mail. Other times, one may be asked to respond online through an app, via social media, or by phone. Sometimes people have trouble deciding if they can attend an event. For example, perhaps uncertainty exists over taking vacation time or arranging childcare. For large affairs, such as a business conference or big wedding, it’s advised to decline the invite if you cannot respond yes with certainty by the RSVP date given. For smaller affairs, such as an intimate birthday party for a friend, an invited guest may privately call the host to request a response time extension. But do abide by whatever new deadline is established for responding. Guests should never ever show up unexpectedly without RSVPing. Not only does this exhibit poor behavior but this action risks embarrassing themselves and the hosts.

Proper etiquette demonstrates politeness and social grace and solidifies relationships with people. Even small gestures such as saying please and thank you, opening a car door when appropriate, or holding the door for someone entering or exiting a building, can greatly enhance one’s experience and perceptions. Ultimately, etiquette reflects character, so proper behavior is 100% well worth the effort.

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