One of the best etiquette books I’ve read is Peggy Post’s, “Excuse Me, But I Was Next…” She wrote an entire book that just deals with rude behavior (and making sure you aren’t offending with your own rudeness).
What are some of the top offending behaviors?
- Being late for an appointment/meeting
- Blocking traffic in public places
- Forgetting to introduce people
- Yelling at children/spouse in public
- Indecisive about responding to an invitation
Of course, you can’t talk about rude behaviors without covering the use of cell phones. Worst offenses? Taking a call when you’re at the register; taking a call in a public restroom; talking too loudly and sharing too much; and, inappropriate/excessive replies in a group text. (Peggy Post has over 100 behaviors in her book!) Here are a few:
What if someone cuts in line? What do you say to them? Smile and say, “Excuse Me, I was here first…” That’s it. If they don’t get behind you in line, that’s too bad. Just because someone treats you rudely, you can’t respond likewise. Take the high road, breathe and mentally shake it off.
What about nosy questions? How do I answer without being rude? Use humor (age—why, do I look young?) Make sure your body language sends a “really, dude?” message. Include an intense eye stare. Pause before answering. I try, “Pardon me” first, like I didn’t hear it. If they are rude enough to ask again, tell like it is and say, “I’d rather not say” or try, “Why do you ask?” Then stop talking and see how they respond to you.
What if someone rudely points out something? If you have a salsa stain, ripped hem, or even a booger in your nose and someone points it out in a non-private way, say, “Well, that’s inconvenient.” That’s it…don’t say anything else. For heaven’s sake, don’t pick your nose or work on removing the salsa right then. Say, “would you excuse me…” and leave.
Let’s say I’m rude by accident, how do I apologize? First of all, don’t say, “I’m sorry.” You aren’t sorry. You are a great human being. Say, “I apologize,” and change the subject. Never dwell on the why or give an excuse for your rudeness. You were rude, sometimes it happens. Apologize and move on.
What do I say if someone apologizes for being rude? One of two ways, “Thank you for your apology” or, “I appreciate your apology.” If they have broken your favorite vase and need a few more words to soothe their conscious, say, “Think nothing of it.” That says, “O.K. we can survive this.” You can still ask for the number of their insurance provider, send them a bill for cleaning, or ask them to replace the item.
If you have a specific rude behavior or situation, please send me a comment and I’ll see if I can help. Until then, behave yourself!