Just because you've been getting away with a social gaffe for decades doesn't mean you shouldn't stop making it. By the time you're 50, you should know a thing or two -- or 25 -- about etiquette. Sure, everyone gets mixed up from time to time about which side of the plate the fork goes on. But social blunders that actually impact someone else by, perhaps, making them feel uncomfortable should be avoided at all costs. Here are four common social faux pas that no one -- especially those over 50 -- should still be making. Have your own pet peeves? Let us know in comments.
1. Being an unclear guest.
You are invited to a party and forget to respond. Or your daughter is invited to a birthday party and you RSVP the day before. Or you plan to visit friends for a weekend but never tell them exactly when you'll show up and leave. This is not only thoughtless, but it's unnecessary. If you don't get back to a host about a party right away, he or she may think you're holding out for a better invitation. And that's just not nice. Respond promptly. Be clear as to when you're going to arrive at someone's house. If you really aren't sure you will be able to make an event, simply tell it like it is. And don't be late without a good reason. It's just not nice!
2. Checking your phone or computer when someone is talking to you.
Years ago, when I would call my husband at work, I could tell if he was answering an email at the same time he was speaking with me. I would call him on it and he'd always apologize, but it still drove me nuts. Technology has grown into a huge distraction but -- truly -- that phone call or email can wait. Giving someone who needs to talk to you your undivided attention cannot. If you really have to deal with a call or an email, ask the person if it's okay to call them back in a few minutes. And this rule applies to your kids as well. When they are talking to you, don't stare at your phone or computer screen.
3. Asking or talking about a kid as if they weren't there.
Many of us have done this. You go to a friend's house and her 10-year-old daughter is in the kitchen and you say something like, "is Janie enjoying school?" If the child is there, address them directly, just as you would an adult. It's called being respectful. If the child doesn't respond, or walks out of the room, then you can ask your friend about their kid.
4. Fighting over a check.
This used to be sort of a fun sport and, at times, it was a thrill to be able to really treat someone when you had the money. But after so many years it's grown tedious to hear people arguing back and forth over a check. My rule of thumb is to divide a check evenly and don't quibble over small change. Period. At the same time, though, I'd also urge you not to order a $60 steak if your friend had a garden salad. Whatever you do, don't launch into a loud, boisterous battle in the middle of a restaurant over a meal you're likely to soon forget. It's not worth the hassle.