POST 50
11/26/2014 06:59 am ET Updated Nov 27, 2014

The Worst Things You Can Do While Waiting In Line, According To Etiquette

Standing in line: A simple action that you can't possibly screw up, right? Wrong. It's surprising how easily an orderly line can descend into chaos. (Look no further than the crowds at Black Friday sales.) We spoke to Faye de Muyshondt, founder of the etiquette training group socialsklz and author of the book "socialsklz:-) For Success" for a refresher in manners. From cutters to close talkers, here's how to deal with everything a queue can throw your way.

The Huffington Post: What's the rudest thing one can do in a line?

de Muyshondt: I’d say to talk loudly on a mobile device and then worse, to not have a decision ready or wallet prepared when the time comes for ordering and payment.

The Huffington Post: There seem to be two types of lines: The "bank" kind (where one single line forms) and the "grocery store" kind (where each person forms a line in front of each cashier). Which is more polite -- and which gets you out of the store faster?

de Muyshondt: Surely the bank line is more “polite” because it's more simple for customers, but a grocery store has far more customers, registers and transactions on a given day making it necessary for lines to form behind cashiers. The two can be equally polite if everyone plays fair and nice. That means not having kids or family members wait on another line to see which goes faster.

The Huffington Post: What can you do if you're stuck in front of (or behind) a talker?

de Muyshondt: Keep in mind it’s temporary. And in the end, it’s not going to be worth the confrontation and negative energy for you, nor the people around you. Instead, think about something you're grateful for on that given day. Numerous studies on gratitude support the way it's linked to happiness and well-being.

The Huffington Post: What's the polite way to handle line-cutters?

de Muyshondt: Mention that “there’s a line” and indicate that you’re on it. Most important, however, is keeping your cool and smiling while saying it. Best case, they apologize and form a line, worst case, you've said your peace and they continue to cut.

The Huffington Post: What's the best way to handle multiple orders in a crowded line? (For instance, if you find yourself at Starbucks and have to order for a group.)

de Muyshondt: You're a paying customer, whether you have one item to order or six. While I love the intention of thinking about the person behind you online, the tricky part is that you can't know if the person behind you is ordering one or four as you do in a grocery store. And even if they do have one and you let that person pass, why wouldn’t you let every other person behind them with a single order pass? It’s too confusing. Don’t fret. Place your order with confidence (unless it's just one person behind you).

The Huffington Post: This is only tangentially related to lines, but we're curious: Is it ever okay to order an elaborate drink when there are a number of people waiting in line?

de Muyshondt: Yes, it is okay if it's an establishment where you can in fact order elaborate drinks! I almost feel like I am an anomaly ordering my tall coffee with room for milk at Starbucks these days! Most are placing elaborate orders!

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