11 polite habits that are misunderstood to be rude

11 polite habits that are misunderstood to be rude

We do things to help and comfort others with the intention of being polite, but sometimes these actions are misunderstood as a rude gesture.

Did you know that there are actions that we do in our daily life which can be misconstrued as being rude? Actions, like holding the elevator door, doing the dishes after a party for someone or just complimenting someone’s appearance, giving your friend and advice while he/she just needed a shoulder to cry on, can be often misconstructed to be rude, contrary to your polite intentions. 

Well, while you might help them with the best intentions but they might consider it a rude behavior. Hence, it is necessary to understand how are people identifying with your help as this little practice can help you to not push away people you love. Nobody wants to be a part of this misunderstood grey area, so, here are 11 common habits that you think is a polite gesture, but sometimes can be misunderstood as being rude.

1. Ordering for someone else in a restaurant

ordering for someone else (Pexels)
ordering for someone else (Pexels)

Well, it might be a romantic gesture knowing what your partner likes and ordering it for him/her or maybe saving time as your partner takes too long to decide what they want to eat. While this is a sign that you know your partner well enough, there are times that it might backfire. Even though if they eventually they ask you to choose, resist the urge to jump up and place an order. You need to allow the other party to place their own order. You can throw suggestions, but let them do the task.

2. Making a joke on someone else’s expense

Laughing at the expense of someone (Pexels)
Laughing at the expense of someone (Pexels)

It is completely normal to crack joke among friends, but you should avoid making someone from your group the butt of the joke. These jokes are considered normal when your intentions are completely understood. Your friendly joke can pass off as undermining them or come off as a personal attack. Despite your intention of entertaining your friends and have fun, it is not perceived that way.

3. Complimenting someone’s appearance

Complementing someone about their appearance (Pexels)
Complementing someone about their appearance (Pexels)

Who doesn't love compliments? While complimenting someone about their appearance is always considered to be polite, there is a rude underlying layer. Despite your good intentions, you might make the person feel a little self-conscious or uncomfortable about their looks and appearance and you can be considered as being insensitive. Always understand boundaries beyond which your compliments can be misunderstood.

4. Clearing off the table while people are still eating

clearing off the table while someone is still eating (Pexels)
clearing off the table while someone is still eating (Pexels)

Well, helping clear the table after a meal is a noble deed, but it is a habit that can stress people out. Clearing the dirty dishes are considered to be polite since your getting it out of the way. But, if the person is still eating then it can make them think that they are a slow-eater and make it an awkward situation.

It can also express that you want your guest to hurry up and leave, which is a rude intention disguised by a polite action.

Letting people clear out their dishes or signal that they are done can be a more hospitable way of treating your guests.

5. Reacting even when you can hear someone

Nodding in agreement in a loud place (Pexels)
Nodding in agreement in a loud place (Pexels)

This is a common approach to situations when we cannot hear someone at a loud event or a bar. But sometimes being polite and nodding your head in compliance with understanding what the other party is saying can sometimes be mistaken as rude, disinterested, and dragging the conversation for a company. Asking the person to repeat what they said can show your genuine interest and show that you care.

Source: Pexels
Source: Pexels

In the efforts of being polite, we are sometimes distancing ourselves from the person and setting a boundary that distances us from them. 

6. Arriving early to a party to “help”

Being the first one to reach a party (Pexels)
Being the first one to reach a party (Pexels)

Extending a helping hand is a sweet gesture, but arriving early is just as rude as arriving late at a party. Unless the party is hosted by your best friend, then arriving early to help is not misunderstood. However, if they are not that close to you then arriving early and surprising your host might not be a great idea. It makes them feel a tad-bit inadequate and catches them off-guard.

7. Offering unsolicited advice

Offering unsolicited advice (Pexels)
Offering unsolicited advice (Pexels)

Helping out a friend in distress is misunderstood since there are instances when all they want is a shoulder to cry on. But, giving them advice can be interpreted as if you are shutting them down and completely invalidate them. Ask beforehand what they need and do not offer advice if they did not ask for it.

8. Sharing life stories when you have just met

Oversharing at the first meeting (Pexels)
Oversharing at the first meeting (Pexels)

If you just met someone it is wise to stick to the basic conversation topics and not narrate a life story in your first meeting. Especially if it is negative one about your ex-boss, ex-colleague or anybody for that matter as it leads the person to mistrust you. So, hold on to them till you are truly friends with the person.

9. Being a backseat driver

Being a backseat driver (Pexels)
Being a backseat driver (Pexels)

Backseat driving is the most annoying thing for the driver, but if you spot a car rushing from the corner or a possibility of an accident it is ok to comment. But, attempting to guide the driver sitting behind can annoy the person driving and make them insecure about their skill. Let them figure out the route themselves, hold off on the comments.

10. Uncomfortable sitting distance

Sitting at an uncomfortable distance (Pexels)
Sitting at an uncomfortable distance (Pexels)

Well, sitting too close to a friend or coworker while working on something can be uncomfortable for a few people. It is wise to have a one-arm distance between the two of you to avoid any awkward situation. This can make you intimidating and a tad bit creepy. Yet, the distance is variable based on the dynamic the two of you share.

11.  Being overly concerned

Being overly concerned (Pexels)
Being overly concerned (Pexels)

Comforting your partner after a bad day is a sweet romantic gesture, but being over considerate can come off as rude. This will lead you to be too indulgent and not give your partner any space to resolve the issue. You need to draw a line and understand the distinction between being concerned and overwhelming.

The reaction to each action is definitely based on the dynamic you share with the other person. However, there are going to be times when even in general your polite actions can be misunderstood as rude. Understand the difference between concerned and overwhelming, helping and rude and then take actions accordingly.

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