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15 Bad Habits to Break

Everybody commits a social faux pas once in a while, but these mistakes are the rudest of the rude. Take a look at these memorable manner mishaps.

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Manners keep us from acting like snobs and boors, and they are constantly evolving to keep up with the times. Knowing that they exist and why they exist is the first step to collective happiness. Here are a few that may help add a little civility to an increasingly uncivil world. You may not agree with every tenet. But you’ll no doubt understand now why an eyebrow is cocked when someone chooses to ignore one.

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1. At the Dinner Table

1. At the Dinner Table

Should you text at the table at a social gathering? Farhad Mangoo on slate.com: “If you’re in a situation where you’d excuse yourself to go to the bathroom, you should also excuse yourself before reaching for your phone.”

– If you prefer not to have wine while dining out, don’t turn your glass upside down, and don’t make a big deal of saying you don’t drink. Simply place your finger on the rim of the glass and say “Not today, thanks.” This implies no judgment of those who wish to imbibe.

– Grabbing a bowl of salad or a salt shaker as it’s being passed to someone who asked for it is the equivalent of cutting in line: greedy and rude.

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2. On the Job

2. On the Job

Don’t check personal devices during a meeting attended by your boss or anyone else who can make her disapproval your problem.

Don’t pop up “prairie dog” beside someone’s cubicle, holding a conversation as a disembodied head.

Don’t use a speakerphone unless you’re in your office and holding a meeting that’s being attended by someone remotely. Alert the person you’re speaking with that others are present, and close the door. FYI: Using a speakerphone at full volume to go through your voice mailbox is the definition of annoying.

Don’t microwave stinky foods in the lunchroom. (Come on.)

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3. In an Email

3. In an Email

– If all you have to say in your email is “Thanks!” refrain from sending it. You’re just clogging an inbox.

Things not to do when emailing: shout in all caps, use coloured fonts or clip-art emoticons, attach large files, forward an e-mail unless appropriate.

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4. On a Plane

4. On a Plane

– Don’t crowd the boarding area, and once on board, stow your stuff and get out of the aisle quickly.

– If you need to get up during a flight, don’t yank the back of the seat in front of you as you do.

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5. Out and About

5. Out and About

– If you use your iPod with cheap, leaky earbuds, those near you hear your downloaded Lady Gaga as if it’s being played on the world’s tinniest buzz saw.

Let people off the elevator and hold the doors for others before you board.

Remove your sunglasses and headphones to speak to someone.

Don’t ask to bring a guest to a wedding if your invitation doesn’t indicate you may. If you’re the bride or groom, don’t ask for cash. And “no wrapped gifts, please” fools no one.