Image: Tina Phillips /

Working in retail you hear all sorts of things… you have people ask you and tell you all sorts of things that you never anticipated being asked or told.

Once the shock starts to wear off, and you get used to the random client explaining that she’s going to pass gas the entire time she’s in the store, where there used to be extreme awkwardness, you learn to let it roll off of you like beads of nervous perspiration.

You also start to notice that all over the place people are saying inappropriate things to other people, and you watch the person on the receiving end suffer the same discomfort that you yourself have become quite accustomed to.

When I first encountered some of these moments of mortification, I thought that somehow the person I was dealing with had just missed the memo on being polite in public, or maybe they had been the victim of very poor parenting, or perhaps they were just having a bad day and had thrown all care for proper etiquette out the window and were just saying what they felt. However, after a certain point reality set in and it became clear; people are rude.

Now, my good readers, please don’t accuse me of being a pessimist or overly harsh. I’m not being cruel, I’m just being honest! It’s not my belief that people set out and revel in their rudeness intentionally. There are many things to blame for this epidemic of rudeness and very few of them are personal, the solution, however is. Seeing as how we’ve lost touch with our sensitivity to what is polite and what is not, not to mention our care for the way we make those around us feel, I’ve taken it upon myself to be the ambassador for polite conversation! As such, in spite of what positive reinforcement theory would have me do, I’ve formed a list of the top 10 things you should NOT say to the person standing next to you, assisting you in a store, whom you are assisting, or who is waiting on you (it should be mentioned that this list includes but is not limited to the above mentioned people).

  1. Never assume someone is pregnant and comment on it. I cannot stress this enough. Unless you know the person and they’ve just given you their due date, DON’T DO IT.  It’s not only awkward for the person you’re talking to if they happen not to be pregnant, its humiliating. Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it.
  2. Don’t tell strangers they look just like someone you know and then pull pictures up on your phone and show them. Maybe the person they remind you of is your favorite person in the world, maybe you think that person is gorgeous, maybe you’re in love with that person and you are so obsessed you think everyone looks just like them. Whatever the case may be, the person you’re talking to doesn’t know that and can only take what you’re showing them at face value, which might be awesome, but also holds the potential not to be and either way puts the other person in an awkward position.
  3. Don’t assume that a couple is a couple. This is for all of those ladies who’ve gone into a place with their father only to have their sales person/waiter/person standing next to them assume that their father was their boyfriend or husband and then spent the rest of the day wondering, “Does my Dad look like a dirty old man, or do I really look that old?”
  4. Never ask a waiter/waitress how much you should tip. Waiters and waitresses, I give you my permission to hence forth answer this ignorance with “$100, please.”
  5. Don’t ask someone how much they paid for something. Even if you know them well. If they don’t offer the information it’s probably not in good taste to ask, it’s none of your business and if you’re in the market for whatever they have, you can google how much it costs. This is for you my wonderful baby sister. ;>
  6. Don’t assume someone is gay/straight and comment on it. People’s sexual orientation is near and dear to their heart… making an assumption and being wrong can be as awkward as assuming someone is male/female and being wrong.
  7. Don’t assume someone is single/dating/married and comment on it. It’s just not a good plan.
  8. Never assume someone you are friends with agrees with your point of view and solicit their approval of something in front of a third-party. Now you’re making two people feel awkward and not just one. If you can’t support your point of view without asking for back up, you might want to reconsider where you stand.
  9. Don’t assume that just because you’re friends with the bride that you’re going to be a bridesmaid. This one’s a bit more personal than the others, but I’ve seen this one in actions several times myself and I can tell you it doesn’t end well. There’s not a prize for being in the most wedding parties, the likelihood of getting hitched yourself does not increase per bridesmaid dress you have to wear. Wait to be asked and don’t throw a fit or take it personally if you’re not.
  10. Never ask your coworker how much they are getting paid or tell them how much you make. Not only is it rude, it can get you in a lot of trouble, in some cases even fired. Again, none of your business.  I promise doing this causes more harm than good in all cases.

There are, of course, more points I could cover on this subject matter, but I figured these 10 are a good jumping off point. A well-behaved tongue and refined communication skills are as much a fashion accessory as your Louis Vuitton, so go thither and converse politely and the world will marvel.  Prettysmart girls are well-spoken!