A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

14 Little Ways You’re Acting Like a Jerk and Don’t Even Know It

Don't pretend you didn't see your dog poop on the sidewalk.

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Posting party pics to social media

Remember that feeling you got in high school when you found out everyone was invited to Jack’s blowout birthday party except you? Well, adults may get bigger but they don’t grow out of feeling sad about being left out. Unless everyone on your social media feed is on your invite list, avoid posting pics of you and your friends at a major party. Still want to share the fun? Consider posting pictures of just yourself or post pictures from the party to the party’s Facebook page or in a privately shared photo album.

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“Forgetting” to pick up your dog’s poop

There’s nothing more infuriating than seeing a pile of animal waste desecrating your favorite public park, a sidewalk, or (worst of all) on your own lawn. It’s astonishing how many pet owners pretend not to see Fido’s dump and just keep walking. Make sure you always bring waste bags with you and pick up after your pooch. Their mess is your responsibility—that’s just part of being a dog owner.

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Not saying hi to the receptionist

It’s been said that a great man shows his greatness in how he treats little men. Politeness and respect isn’t something we save only for people who we see as above us but for people, period. Take the time to say hi to the receptionist, thank the nursing assistant, make small talk with the bus driver, and offer to help the cashier. You’ll learn a lot and you never know when you may need them on your side.

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Texting while talking to someone else

We’re all guilty of annoying texting habits, but there’s one that takes the cake. You know what we mean: While talking to someone, an alert notifies us of a text so we take a quick glance and then type out a quick answer. Five seconds, no harm, no foul, right? Not so much. Taking your attention away from the person you’re talking to, even just briefly, shows them that they are not your priority right now and makes them feel like you’re not listening. Ignore the siren call of phone alerts during an in-person conversation. Don’t miss these 10 other cell phone etiquette tips you should be following but aren’t.

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Leaving your grocery cart in the middle of the parking lot

It’s been a long day. It’s hot. You’re tired. The cart corral is so far away. We get it. But there’s still no excuse for leaving your cart in the middle of a parking spot—especially when walking your cart back is an easy way to sneak more steps into your day. Not only does that prevent the spot from being used by another (equally tired and hot) customer, but you’re forcing a (also tired and hot) bagger to come out and pick up after you. Don’t be that person.

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Using big words you know other people won’t understand

There’s choosing the right word and then there’s showing off your Word Of The Day skills. If you enjoy language and delight in expressing yourself just so, it’s totally fine. But if you’re pulling out your ten-dollar words just to look smarter than everyone else, you look like a jerk. It’s a fine line between eloquent elocutionist and blowhard.

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Failing to learn your waitperson’s name

Most service staff wear name tags so you really have no excuse for not acknowledging them by name. This is especially important when you’re asking for something. They’re there to help you out, sure, but they’re a human being, not a robot. Here are 13 more etiquette rules to follow when you’re eating at a restaurant.

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Letting the door slam shut behind you without looking

Forget chivalry, we’re talking basic human decency. You don’t have to hold open the door for ten minutes while everyone else streams in, but you should give a quick glance over your shoulder after walking through to see if you’re about to slam the door in someone’s face. The two seconds it takes to hold it open for the next person is well worth it.

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Using your speaker phone in public

We can’t stress how important this one is. Talking loudly into your bluetooth headset or putting your phone on speaker while shopping, riding the bus, or in a restaurant is a surefire way to make everyone around you hate you. No one wants to hear your private conversations; that is what texting is for. Check out these 10 essential social etiquette secrets you’ll learn in etiquette class.

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Treating a handshake like an arm wrestling match

Your handshake can reveal telling things about your personality, but anyone will judge a grasp that cuts off circulation. When you first meet someone you certainly want to appear confident and strong but there’s no need to wrestle them into submission. There is a difference between having a firm grip and causing bodily harm with a handshake.

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Talking about the great deal you got on your new TV

Getting new things is fun and sharing them with others can be even more fun, but when your sharing veers into bragging, you’ll burn through your friends’ goodwill faster than your new car burns through gas. It’s cool to share your excitement and successes, including new purchases, but keep it short and sweet. And then ask what’s new in their life.

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Eating in front of others without offering to share

A lot of not looking like a jerk comes down to having good manners and a lot of manners have to do with food. Eating something delicious while others with you go without is a class-A jerk move. But most of us know to offer to share. However, the same rule applies when eating out—wait until everyone’s entree is served before digging in. Here are more of the most annoying eating habits, according to science.

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Talking on the phone while checking out at the store

Chatting with your best friend is one way to make your shopping go by faster (as long as you keep the volume down) but once you reach the cash register, it’s time to hang up. Don’t force the cashier to try and read your lips or hand gestures while you talk to someone else and definitely don’t ignore them while they ring you up. It will take two minutes to say “hi, credit, and thank you.” Then you can call your friend back.

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Leaving a pile of clothes on the fitting room floor

Shopping for new clothes is fun but after all the trying on, modeling for friends, and squatting in front of the mirror (those leggings are opaque right?) you’re left with something that can feel like a chore: Hanging all that stuff back up and taking it out to the return rack. It’s all too easy to slip out, leaving the rejected items in a heap on the floor. But the salesperson is not your mother or your maid and they do not want to pick up after you. Plus, other shoppers won’t know if the room is available. Hang your stuff up and carry it out. Next, make sure you know these 50 little etiquette rules you should always practice.

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen is a health, lifestyle and fitness expert and teacher. She covers all things wellness for Reader’s Digest and The Healthy. With dual masters degrees in information technology and education, she has been a journalist for 17 years and is the author of The Great Fitness Experiment. She lives in Denver with her husband, five kids and three pets.