I am baffled by those with bad etiquette. I'm sure this doesn't come as much of a surprise, especially since this is my field of expertise; nonetheless, I am. I often wonder how in the world do these people get away with it and who died and made them so special? You know who I'm talking about. The mindless set that inhabits our planet openly offending without care and deliberately strong-arming for their own benefit. The ones who behave like they live in a bubble and don't have to answer to anyone or play by the unwritten rules. The folks that are so highly unconscious, they just can't help themselves. How small-minded and how sorely mistaken they are.
We are living in an age where bad behavior has become the standard mode of operation. You simply cannot turn on a television or read a newspaper or surf the net without finding umpteen stories on individuals, both public figures and private, who went wildly off the ranch and found themselves in hot water because of some ridiculously thoughtless act or insensitive verbal attack.
There is a serious deficiency of responsibility for our actions and a gross negligence of accountability for our words that is causing a tremendous strain on our relationships, our business, and our everyday exchanges. You don't have to be a brain surgeon - or an etiquette expert for that matter - to notice when things go horribly wrong and if you were the common denominator in the equation. At some point, you have to stop and take a good long look in the mirror. In other words, you better check yourself, before you wreck yourself.
Think you may have bad etiquette? Here are seven sure signs you do, and what you can do about it.
1. People Duck Out of the Way When They See You Coming. You are a walking black cloud spewing negativity and complaints with each breath. The grass is always greener for everyone else and your life is a wretched disaster. The term "Debbie Downer" was coined after an evening spent in your presence.What can you do? Change your tune. Quit the destructive banter. Start thinking positively and try complimenting others. Embrace each day and be grateful you're even alive.
2. You Can Count Your Friends on Two Fingers. You are a relentless gossiper who pretends to care just long enough to receive your next piece of intel which you will then coyly dangle over your friend's head like a dangling carrot. You are manipulative and aloof. No one can penetrate your tough exterior.What can you do? Try being a good friend. Have their back. Offer genuine support in bad times and good. Listen and be present. Value and cultivate your relationship.
3. You Frequently Dine Alone. Dining with you is an exhausting endeavor. You incessantly bark orders at the wait staff, place impossible demands on the kitchen and purposefully skimp on the tip. You wait to speak with a mouth full of food and can't be bothered to use a napkin. What can you do? Learn some table manners for goodness' sake! Employ the Continental style of dining. Treat everyone in the restaurant with equal respect. Leave a tip of no less than 15%.
4. Human Resources Called and They'd Like to See You. You waste valuable company time to handle your personal life. You are a constant distraction to your co-workers engaging them in non-work activities. You are known to badmouth both your boss and your job when out socially. It's amazing you haven't been fired, yet. What can you do? Snap out of it. Be appreciative that you have a work place to go to each day. Leave your personal life at home and focus on your job and how to do it better. Be a team player, arrive on time and stay late when needed. Make yourself an invaluable asset to your company.
5. You Can't Get Beyond the First Date. You are a self-consumed conversation hog who would much rather spend time talking about yourself than trying to get to know your date. Your cell phone is glued to your hand. If a call or text comes in, you don't hesitate to respond in full view of your companion. You have no trouble showing your true colors, you come first in the relationship and it's your way or the highway. What can you do? Get over yourself. You will wind up alone or in a meaningless relationship if you don't start putting your partner first. A union is based on mutual respect and support. Try acting like it.
6. You Drive with One Hand on the Horn and One on the Wheel. The roads were tame before you started driving them. Other drivers and pedestrians watch out when they see you coming. You are relentless with the horn and quick to let other drivers know when they're driving too slow. You are permanently in a rush and always within seconds of the one thing you despise, being late. What can you do? Take a chill pill. Put on some calming music, count to 10, ease up on the caffeine and allow yourself extra time for reaching your destination.
7. You Rarely Crack a Smile, but You Crack at the Drop of a Dime. People approach you with caution. They don't know if you're on the verge of tears or ready for a night in the rubber room. You have a permanent "mad on" face that tells the world, you are not at one with it and you are eternally on edge ready to chew someone out for even the slightest transgression. What can you do? Put on a happy face. Smiling is the number one way to show you are friendly and likable. Don't particularly feel like smiling? Fake it 'til you make it. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Not everything is intentional and meant to do you harm. Ease up on the accusations and have a little fun.
Lisa Gache is the author of the new book 24 Karat Etiquette: Advice from the Founder of Beverly Hills Manners.