10 of the Worst Conversational Faux Pas Someone Can Make
Why are you so rude?
It’s a question that reaches beyond the popular MAGIC! song — especially when someone is interupted while talking or being completely ignored.
But many people remain oblivious to some of the worst conversational faux pas.
Here are the ten biggest mistakes people make:
10. Seeming uninterested in what the other person is saying
Sometimes it takes more effort to stay engaged with someone while they speak — and not start thinking about several unrelated things during the conversation.
But forget about grocery shopping for a minute and try to pay attention.
“I always say that listening is one of the highest compliments that you can pay another person,” founder and president of the Etiquette School of New York, Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick, told the Daily News.
Yawning and failing to make enough eye contact can signal disinterest as well — making it very uncomfortable for the person talking.
Enough eye contact signals that you are interested in what is being said.
9. Checking your phone
Nearly everyone has been guilty of this rude gesture.
People have become more likely to check their smart phones repeatedly — whether someone is checking an email from work or a friend’s latest status update.
“It’s almost like a reflex action with people, they’re just so used to looking at it every few seconds,” Napier-Fitzpatrick said.
Earlier this year, a study found that heavy cell phone use was closely linked to having a poor attention span — we’re the living proof.
Experts like Napier-Fitzpatrick believe that taking the gadget off the table and putting it in your pocket can make it less tempting to check for messages or log on to social media — giving whoever is speaking your undivided attention.
“The best thing to do when you’re with another person is to realize that the person in front of you is the one you’re having a conversation with and should show your respect to,” Napier-Fitzpatrick said.
If you’re expecting a call — then just let the other person know.
8. Speaking with your mouth full
Being the middle of holiday season, many people are spending their time eating.
But try to think before you speak, experts warn.
“Make sure that you finish swallowing before you talk,” Napier-Fitzpatrick said.
Considering the amount of time most spend around the table during the holidays, there should be ample time to chew and swallow before talking.
Everyone around will thank you.
Your friend is telling you a story about spotting a snake while swimming in Lake George over the summer — and then you remember you saw a bear two feet away from you in the Poconos.
Somehow both experiences seemed outrageous in your mind and you felt the need to share yours — dismissing her snake in the lake story and deeming it less important than yours.
Bad news — you’re a one-upper and most people hate it.
Experts say that people who normally do this have low self-esteem, which is why he or she feels the need to be better than anyone taking the spotlight.
6. Correcting someone’s grammar
No one is perfect, and sometimes grammar rules slip away during basic conversations — but try to avoid correcting anyone in public, experts say.
Just because a person said he “did good” instead of “did well” on a test, doesn’t mean it’s an opportunity to shame him for unknowingly committing a crime against proper grammar.
Either let it slide, or mention the offense in private.
5. Finishing someone’s sentences
Research suggests that the brain is constantly trying to predict what other people are about to say — not only the basic content of the message, but also the word choice and the phrasing of the sentences.
But, some people just take longer to articulate their thoughts — be patient and give them the time they need.
“They (the culprits) are just excited and eager and think that they’re helping you finish sentences,” she says.
“You’re not helping them, it’s rude, unless they ask you to help them.”
Abstain from this common, but bothersome, bad habit unless someone specifically asks for it — “What’s that word I’m looking for?” — in which case, feel free to jump in.
“If you can, be patient and focus and have the self-control to be a good listener and more people would want to be around you,” Napier-Fitzpatrick recommended.
4. Forgetting someone’s name or calling them by the wrong one
You just met someone and you’ve already forgotten his or her name within seconds.
It happens — it happens a lot — even to the most thoughtful of people.
But don’t try to hide the mistake, which can lead to insulting a person if you call him or her by a different name — just be honest and ask for his or her name again.
Politeness will always win.
3. Rude questions
Napier-Fitzpatrick says awkward questions — like “Are you married?” or “How much money to you make?” — should be handled with grace and humor.
Just politely respond — “Well, I’m married to my job right now” — or simply tell the person you just don’t want to discuss your love life with him or her.
“Some people don’t know it’s rude and others are just curious,” Napier-Fitzpatrick said.
The key is knowing that you have the power to discuss as much or as little as you’d wish about your personal life — and just because you were put on the spot, does not mean that you need to answer every question that comes your way.
2. Talking over
Speaking over someone shows a lack of respect for what the other person has to contribute to the conversation — so it’s best to just wait your turn.
“They just want to say what they want to say rather than listen to another person,” Napier-Fitzpatrick said.
“Some people are egocentric — I, I, I, what about you?” she said.
1. Tunnel vision
Starting any conversation with an agenda — whether it’s at a networking event, or having lunch with a co-worker — is discourteous.
Be open to new ideas, let the conversation flow and, most of all — and mentioned in rules five and two — listen to the other person.
Interview by Melissa Stumpf, “New York Daily News”
December 16, 2015