Bad Manners: What NOT to say or do (Polite English)

  • Uploaded on 24 Okt 2013

    Every language is also a culture. Make sure you know the one habit you MUST avoid to succeed in North American and British cultures. I'll also teach you 14 other mistakes in English etiquette and manners, such as what not to ask, when not to speak, and what not to wear to the office. Knowing what NOT to say and do will give you the cultural keys to success in your personal, social, and professional life. Take a quiz on this lesson here:


    Hi, my name is Rebecca from In today's lesson, you'll learn how to function effectively in a cross-cultural environment - in North America, in Britain, and so on -, and what you should not do. This is actually one of two videos that I've recorded. The other one is on good manners, and this one is about bad manners. This one is about what you should not do when you're in North America or in England. Okay? So I've divided it between what you should not say and what you should not do. Let's have a look.

    So, in terms of speaking: when you're speaking in a group or in a public place, try not to speak in a very loud voice. Don't speak too loudly; keep your volume relative to other people's volume. All right? Listen. Now, again, everything that I'm going to say to you here remember always take it with a pinch of salt. What does this expression mean? Understand that it's not 100% like that, but generally speaking it's like that. Okay?

    Next one: in a public situation such as a party, try to avoid controversial subjects. What does that mean? A controversial subject is something where people have strong views such as religion or politics. We try to avoid these subjects, for example: at a social occasion, at a wedding, or a party because if you get into a discussion with someone on these subjects it can become a little bit aggressive, it can become a little bit angry, and perhaps that's not very kind to your host or hostess that are planning a pleasant kind of event. So remember to keep that in mind. Of course, with your own friends or people you know well or people you see often, you do share your views on these subjects and that may be perfectly okay. All right?

    Next: we also avoid speaking about money. I know that money is, of course, of great interest to everyone, but we usually do not ask people that we don't know well or acquaintances or people we've just met, we don't ask them questions like: "How much do you make?", "How much do you earn?", "How much did you pay for your house or your car?" or something else. We don't ask that because it's not polite. Okay? Of course, again, with people you know well, you may share that information. And if somebody decides to share that with you, that's fine, but you try to avoid asking it.

    Next is not to ask personal questions. What do I mean by personal questions? You don't usually ask people how old they are or how much they weigh or something like that, or how many... If they're married or if they have kids. Now, again, if you're a married person and you have children and you meet another married person and it's clear that he or she has children, it's perfectly fine to talk about how old your children are because it's obvious that you all have children. So I don't mean to never ask them, but if you meet just one person you don't want to start asking them: "Oh, why don't you have children?" or something like that because that's giving advice very early when you barely know somebody and people don't like that kind of advice usually.

    Next is avoid talking about yourself because that can sometimes seem like you're boasting. Now, of course, that doesn't mean not to give information about yourself, but not to talk too much about yourself. When you talk too much about yourself then people feel that you're... you just care about yourself. Instead of that, show, tell a little bit about yourself, and then turn the conversation and turn the focus and the attention onto the other person; ask them about themselves. Okay, the next point is not to interrupt people. In many different cultures there're many different rules about this, but in North America generally when one person is speaking we try to wait until they finish speaking and then we say what we want to say. Try not to interrupt while other people are speaking.

    Last point here is about speaking when your mouth is full. Don't do it. In other words: don't eat and talk at the same time. Eat - if you're at a dinner -, eat, finish eating, and then speak. Nobody likes to see all that food inside your mouth and neither can we understand you very clearly when you have something in your mouth, so avoid that.

    Channel Learn English with Rebecca [engVid]


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