20 Telltale Signs You Were Not Taught Etiquette Growing Up

Did your parents ever say things like “wash your hands before eating dinner” or “don’t start stuffing your face until everyone’s seated”?

If you’re like most, the answer’s probably in the affirmative. But there may be things about proper etiquette that you weren’t taught or that you never cared to put into practice.

Here are 20 telltale signs you were not taught — or didn’t take to — etiquette growing up.

You Talk Over People

Young group of female friends sitting in coffee shop and enjoy coffee talk
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You have one mouth and two ears because you’re supposed to listen twice as much as you talk. But if you feel every word coming from your mouth is essential, you might speak much more than you listen. That’s even more of a problem if you talk over others and dominate discussions.

You’re Brutally Honest About the Host’s (Bad) Cooking

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While it’s never good to outright lie, telling someone that their cooking sucks isn’t nice either. If you’re served a steak and believe your leather boots would taste better, keep that observation to yourself. Just thank the host for the meal and leave it at that.

You Pass Gas No Matter Where You Are or Who You’re With

woman pinches nose with fingers looks with disgust something stinks bad smell
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Another sign you lack proper etiquette is if you have no shame passing gas in the presence of others. No, it’s not always possible or convenient to hold it in. But you can try to ease it out slowly rather than shoot it out like a grenade. Just because flatulence is a natural bodily process, it doesn’t mean you have to be careless about how and where you do it.

You Call People But Don’t Leave Messages

Upset angry millennial male feel outraged by bad wrong work of smartphone app poor weak wifi signal
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Do you call people repeatedly and refuse to leave messages if they don’t pick up the phone? Some people think call display is the new voicemail. But it’s not. If you call someone and no one answers, leave a detailed message requesting that the person call you back. Simple.

You Show Up at People’s Homes Unexpected

Man is waiting in front of the open door in corridor
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It’s rude to show up unexpectedly to someone’s home. Doing that is like assuming whatever they were doing can wait now that you’ve arrived. If you currently do it, stop. Just stop.

You Overstay Your Welcome

Bored girl listening to her friend
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Another sign etiquette might not be your strong suit is if you have the habit of overstaying your welcome. If you visit someone’s home for breakfast knowing that your host has places to go and people to see, there’s no reason you should still be there when dinner’s on the stove. The last thing you want is for your host to stare at their watch and glare at you ominously.

You Let Your Dog Do It’s Business on Someone’s Lawn

Dog using litter box
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Responsible dog owners clean up after their dogs do their business. When taking your dog for a walk, bring dog waste bags to collect its poo and of it properly.

You Don’t Flush the Toilet After Using the Bathroom

hand closing a toilet seat cover
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When nature calls, you need to head to the bathroom. But don’t forget to flush after you’ve used the toilet. No one wants to see a toilet filled with things that should have been flushed down.

You Don’t Use Tongs at the Supermarket

person using tongs to pick baked food at supermarket
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Supermarkets provide tongs that customers are supposed to use to select products, such as freshly baked bread rolls. Don’t use your hands to retrieve these food products. Some people use their hands rather than tongs and spread their germs as they sort through the products.

You Speak Loudly on the Phone When Out and About

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If you’re out and about and speak loudly on your smartphone for everyone to hear, that’s something you need to stop. No one wants to know your business. Lower your voice.

You Always Show Up Late

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Are you always late? Is your tardiness so chronic that people express genuine shock if you arrive on time? It’s rude to keep people waiting — especially if it happens more often than not.

You Talk About You All the Time

conversation of a man and woman
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Yet another sign you didn’t learn etiquette growing up is if you only talk about yourself. Some people assume that everyone wants to hear every detail of their life. It’s even worse when such people won’t let anyone else have the floor. Don’t make every conversation solely about you.

You Gossip

two attractive girls gossiping
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Gossip is the lowest form of conversation — just like sarcasm is the lowest form of humor. Remember that someone who gossips with you will gossip about you. If you can’t think of something nice to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.

You Go to Restaurants With Your Friends But “Forget” Your Wallet at Home

A group of happy people waiting for their order. Friends communicate with each other while waiting for their order in a restaurant. Girl drinks latte before eating. The concept of restaurant service.
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Do you like to go out to eat with friends? If so, great. But don’t be that person who goes and assumes someone else will cover the bill. If you don’t have the budget to eat out, don’t go unless someone invites you and says it’s their treat. Otherwise, politely decline the invite. It’s beyond rude to act like you can’t find your credit card when the waiter brings the bill.

You Love Receiving Help But Never Reciprocate

Girl Avoiding Meeting Friend Pretending Not Noticing
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Are you the type of “friend” who asks people for a helping hand but always has an excuse when the time comes to reciprocate? People remember those sorts of things, you know. If you ask for and receive assistance, you should be there for those who are consistently there for you.

You Stare at Your Phone When With Other People

Woman Talking To Female Friend And Using Smartphone, Having Fun Ignoring Her Husband, While Man Sitting Bored Near Cheerful Girlfriends Indoor
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Have you ever been in a group setting and noticed one or more members of the group completely disengaged because they were staring at their phones? If you don’t realize how rude that is, you might need a crash course in basic etiquette.

You Don’t Show Appreciation

angry waiter looking at rude customer.
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Most kids are told to say “please” and “thank you” when it’s appropriate. But some people grow up to become entitled individuals and won’t lower themselves to show basic courtesies. If you’re the type who won’t show appreciation, that’ll rub people the wrong way.

You Don’t Cover Your Mouth When Coughing or Sneezing

Woman coughing into her hands
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Everyone knows it’s best to cover their mouth when coughing or sneezing. But knowing better isn’t the same thing as doing better. So, remember what Ma and Pa told you growing up. If you have to cough or sneeze, do so into your sleeve. No one wants your germs.

You Go to the Express Checkout Line With a Cart Full of Food

people at the checkout line in supermarket
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Are you one of those people who pushes their car full of groceries to the checkout lane reserved for people with one to 15 items? While the cashier might not want to cause embarrassment by calling you out, you can be sure other shoppers won’t take kindly to your rudeness.

You Continue Shopping After Entering the Checkout Line

senior man smiling at checkout line
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In case you didn’t know, it’s rude to run through the store to pick up more times when you’re already in a checkout line in the grocery store. You might get away with it if you’re the only one in line. But don’t force others to wait because you suddenly realize you need something else.

Proper Etiquette: If You Never Learned It Growing Up, Learn It Now

Woman Using a Napkin after Eating in a Restaurant. Cheerful customer having the proper etiquette while dining out
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If some of these telltale signs take you by surprise, it’s probably because you’re guilty of some of them. But let’s face it. We all make etiquette mistakes from time to time. But when you know better, it’s time to do better.

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