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12 Rude Conversation Habits You Need to Stop ASAP

Interrupting people is never a good look. Here are other conversation habits that are just as rude.

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Interrupting people

It happens to everyone who likes chitchatting. Something pops into your head while your friend is speaking, and you interrupt them to blurt it out. Although this might happen occasionally, it’s definitely more of a rude conversation habit for many people. Emilie Dulles, who has more than 29 years of experience in traditional etiquette, says interrupting people is the most common rude conversation habit she encounters. Interrupting not only expresses a lack of interest or respect for the speaker, but it also stops people from sharing the punchline or pearl of wisdom that might come at the end of their story, according to Dulles. So always let others finish their thoughts completely unless what you have to say is extremely urgent or related to an emergency, adds Bonnie Tsai, Beyond Etiquette‘s founder and director.

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Overusing sarcasm

Sarcasm is a hit or miss in most conversations, especially if people don’t already know your sense of humour, according to Tsai. So always be mindful of your audience and determine if it’s the right time or place. “If you have to ask whether or not it’s appropriate, it’s most likely not,” says Tsai. If you do make a sarcastic comment that kills the mood, use one of these magic phrases that can save awkward conversations.

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A portrait of two professional business people walking and talking. They are deep in conversation as they walk on a street in a city in Asia. The man and woman are both professionally dressed. mentatdgt/Shutterstock

Only talking about yourself

Strictly talking about yourself while speaking with others makes you appear narcissistic and inconsiderate of other people and their feelings. “Everyone’s experience and feelings are just as important as yours,” says Tsai. “They want to be able to share their stories just like how you want to share yours.” Not only is talking exclusively about yourself pompous but Julia Esteve Boyd, an international etiquette consultant based in Switzerland, says that monopolizing the conversation is just plain irritating and boring.

Consider trying one of these things that make other people instantly like you.

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Caucasian attractive man use mobile for internet access when waiting for a girl Male checking email box in the city on bench. modern guy in leather jacket watch video online or write in social networkAnatoliy Karlyuk/Shutterstock

Scrolling while speaking

Being distracted by your phone is one of the rude conversation habits that are more popular than ever before, according to Tsai. “Our phones are great for connecting with those who are far away, however, it takes time away from those who we are with in the moment,” says Tsai. If you use your phone during a conversation, it might signal boredom, that you’d rather be elsewhere, or that whatever is happening on your phone is more essential. “The message won’t go away, but the person we are conversing with might,” says Boyd. Using your phone during a conversation is the “height of rudeness,” according to Boyd.

Finding it hard to unplug? Here’s how to overcome social media addiction.

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Men are sitting in front of the table and near window. Serious young guys are discussing some problems. They have tough conversation.Photo: SG SHOT/Shutterstock

Always needing to be “right”

If the conversation takes turns into more of a debate, don’t worry about being “right.” Insisting on winning an argument doesn’t mean you win the fight since this kind of behaviour is rude, says Tsai. “The important thing isn’t about being right or wrong, but understanding where each other is coming from and the ability to empathize with one another without judgment,” says Tsai. “That’s how we can have more productive conversations to help us move forward and learn about one another.”

Don’t miss these pro tips on how to make friends as a grown-up.

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Women talking together on the

One-upping the other person

So your friend just mentioned their first-ever international trip to Italy—and all you want is to chatter away about your semester abroad in Milan. It might be a good idea to hold off. “Someone else sharing their experience with you doesn’t require you to counter with your own,” says Tsai. “They are simply sharing a personal experience with you rather than hear about how you recently had the same experience or something even better.”

Make sure you’re also avoiding these compliments that are actually insults!

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Man and woman talking. Discussion business ideas.MediaGroup_BestForYou/Shutterstock

Prepping your response before the end of a story

Too many people these days aren’t actually listening to a conversation intentionally. Instead, they are waiting for their turn to speak, or in the worst cases, interrupting to get to speak right now,” says Dulles. Instead of hearing what you want to say next, Dulles suggests taking a deep breath and taking in what the other person says. After a few seconds pass, it’s your turn to speak. Communication isn’t always as simple as waiting for your turn to talk.

Don’t miss these tips for dealing with difficult people.

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A young Indian Asian woman is having a casual business meeting with her team in a meeting room. They are sitting and having an animated conversation. The team is diverse (Caucasian and Chinese woman).mentatdgt/Shutterstock

Turning every conversation into gossip

Dulles says that gossip is at a new level in conversation today, thanks to social media. Not only is there less time to process information, but this also leads to comparison and envy—turning spectators into critics and gossipers in no time, according to Dulles. Whether you converse via phone or in person, the old adage holds true: If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything.

Discover the one phrase that will stop gossip in its tracks.

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Two pretty Africa-American women drinking cocktails and chatting in cafeDragon Images/Shutterstock

Asking probing questions

Some questions are just too personal for casual or group conversations. And Boyd has to correct her clients for asking these questions that are too personal. Instead, keep all conversational topics neutral. “Talk about your culture, another culture, food, travel, wine, hobbies, local news, and general family questions,” says Boyd. If other people start in with intrusive questions, you can answer them without making things awkward. For people who ask how much money you make say, “Not enough!” Or if your cousin won’t stop asking when you’re having kids say, “I don’t know, but I may need a babysitter one day, can I count on you?”

Make sure you never say this to a single friend.

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A portrait of two friends standing on a modern, white overpass. One is a Muslim woman and the other is Chinese. They are both young, attractive and happy as they stand next to one another. mentatdgt/Shutterstock

Making inappropriate comments

It’s key to be respectful of other people’s boundaries and sensitivities, regardless of gender or culture. “If you accidentally let an inappropriate comment slip, apologize, take responsibility, and use it as a teaching moment for yourself and others,” says Tsai.

Here, experts answer your most pressing modern etiquette questions.

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Young African woman talking with friends over coffee while sitting together around a table in the courtyard of a trendy cafemavo/Shutterstock

Not reading the room

If there’s one thing you take away from this list of rude conversation habits, it’s the importance of reading the room. This expression is popular because it speaks to the need for self-awareness as well as the awareness of others, according to Dulles. “Your conversation topics, tone, and volume need to be streamlined to the setting and the people around you,” says Dulles.

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Business team drinking coffee and relaxing at work.Branislav Nenin/Shutterstock

Assuming you’re a good conversationalist

There’s always room for improvement, even if you don’t think you’re guilty of these rude conversation habits. “Conversation etiquette ultimately stems from having respect and consideration for others,” says Tsai. If you aren’t sure whether or not you have any conversation habits that come off as rude, ask your close friends and family to help you out. “They can help you be aware of any quirks or habits you have when you’re spending time with others that can be perceived as inappropriate,” says Tsai. More importantly, once you know these things, you can work on them and become an even better conversationalist.

Now that you’re aware of these rude conversation habits, find out the things polite people always say.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest