Special Report

Etiquette Mistakes That Make You Look Rude

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6. Not standing when introduced

If you’re seated when someone is introduced to you, the polite thing to do is to stand up to shake hands. Not bothering to rise suggests a disdain for the other person that you probably don’t feel.

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7. Not making eye contact

Whether you’re meeting somebody for the first time or spending time with somebody you know well, you should always connect with them visually. Creepy staring isn’t the idea here; your gaze can come and go. Not looking somebody in the eye at all, though, can be taken as a sign that you’re insecure, that you think you’re superior to the other person, or that you have something to hide.

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8. Not responding in a timely manner (or at all) to an RSVP

“RSVP” is an abbreviation for the French phrase “Répondez s’il vous plaît” — “Please respond.” If an invitation asks that you do that, honor the request as soon as you can. It’s perfectly acceptable to respond negatively if you can’t attend whatever you’re invited to, and some invitations give you the choice of answering with a “maybe.” The important thing — the polite thing — is to answer, one way or another.

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9. Not bringing something to a dinner party

There’s an old Irish expression about someone coming to dinner “with one arm just as long as the other” — meaning that he or she isn’t carrying a thoughtful little gift for the host. Always bring something, as a token of your appreciation for being invited. It could be flowers, a box of cookies or a fruit tart, a bottle of wine (which you shouldn’t necessarily expect the host to open while you’re present), even a gag gift if you know the host — and his or her sense of humor — well. It is, as they say, the thought that counts.

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10. Bringing uninvited guests (your kids included) to a party without asking

If you’re single and get invited to a dinner, a party, an event of any kind, don’t automatically assume that the invitation includes a plus-one. Just ask politely if you can bring someone and be prepared to be understanding if you’re denied for any reason. And certainly don’t show up with your kids in tow unless you’ve established that they’ll be welcome.

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