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Respectfully Yours: Best to not correct another person’s manners

Dear Jacquelyn,

Is it ever alright to point out other people’s poor manners?

Dear Reader,

There are several answers to this question. It depends on whose manners you want to correct.

If it is your child, then naturally you should correct their poor manners.

If it is a co-worker or boss, tread carefully.

But if you want to correct a good friend, think twice. Only consider it if you feel it will benefit them, then do it privately and gently.

Generally speaking, pointing out another person’s bad manners is bad manners and simply unwise.

Everyone makes etiquette faux pas from time to time. Commenting on anything, from a person’s poor table manners to imperfect grammar, is crossing the politeness line. We must always remember that correcting them will only cause embarrassment.

Etiquette guidelines dictate form and order.

For example, you use the salad fork that’s set out on the table when you eat the salad. Manners are not pointing out that someone used the wrong fork. Manners always trump etiquette.

Being critical about a person’s social error is something that you may not be able to undo. People have long memories when they feel they’ve been treated poorly. There is absolutely such a thing as being too honest.

At the end of the day, being nice to others is most important and pointing out other people’s poor manners can mean the difference between keeping or losing friends.

Respectfully Yours,


Have a question? Email: jacquelyn@ptd.net. Jacquelyn Youst is owner of the Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol, specializing in etiquette training.

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&Copy;2023 Jacquelyn Youst