Being ultra PC
Being PC, or ‘politically correct,’ is a two-edged sword. Done right, it can help you be accepting and respectful of people with different lifestyles, beliefs, or cultures. But this is one polite habit that can definitely go too far, Parker says. “Many people think being polite is never offending anyone, ever,” she explains. While you should do your best not to be offensive, it isn’t possible to please everyone and being super PC all the time may make you sound affected or patronising. Instead, focus on being a good listener and knowing how to apologise when you do mess up.
Clearing the table when others are eating
“Clearing up the dirty dishes may seem like a considerate gesture but if others are still eating, it can be perceived as a signal to end the meal or that you’re telling them to leave,” Tsai says. And if you’re not the host, it can even come off as quite rude, as if you think the table isn’t clean or you’re taking over hosting duties. Always wait until people are finished eating and if it’s not your home, ask first if you can help tidy up.
Giving one-word answers
People worried about oversharing may think they’re being polite by keeping their answers extremely short. But while a concise answer is polite, one-word answers almost never are, Parker says. “Answering just ‘yes’ or ‘no’ can feel curt and dismissive,” she explains. (And this includes electronic communications. A little explanation is always welcome.