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Business And Personal Etiquette:
Habit That Annoy
Personal Appearance
Faring Forth To A Tea
At Dinner
Voice And Conversation

Habits That Annoy

( Originally Published 1940 )

Almost everyone, whether he realizes it or not, has mannerisms that are annoying to his associates. Several years ago the author was discussing this subject with a friend. She asked the friend to tell her what habit she had that distinctly annoyed her. To her astonishment this is what the friend said:

"You write shorthand all the time anyone is talking with you. You don't use a pencil or pen, but your hand is moving on a desk, the arm of a chair, or on anything that is near you. At first, I didn't realize what you were doing, but when I did, I always had a `what you say here later may be used against you' feeling, and it often restrained me from saying what I intended to say: '

Until that moment the author was not conscious of this habit that no doubt had annoyed her friends for years. She immediately set to work to correct it, and with her friend's help, after several years of hard work, she succeeded. Her greatest regret, however, is that this habit was not called to her attention earlier, before it was so firmly established. How much easier it would have been to have corrected it then.

Young people are often criticized adversely by older people, but this criticism many times is not taken seriously. The attitude is, "Older people forget that they were young once. Young people know each other and understand. What I do doesn't annoy my friends!" But is this true? Apparently, it is not.

The material in this chapter has been written by students about their own friends. These comments may make you aware of your own careless habits. As you read, ask yourself, "What do my friends think of me?" "Which of these annoying habits do I have?"


My friend has many fine qualities. She has one habit that irritates me, however: Whenever we are going anywhere, she grabs my arm and swings me around or gives me a push when she is ready to start, regardless of whom I'm speaking to or whether I'm ready or not. This annoys me very much and gives me a feeling of inferiority.

My friend always knows everything-there is nothing I can tell her that she doesn't already know. Many times she is right; but when I do find out something she doesn't know, I wish she would give me the chance to tell it without saying, "I thought that was it!"

I do not like to have my friend monopolize my time and try to keep all my other friends away. I want her to have other friends, and 1 want to have more than one friend.

Also, when I meet her on the street, I wish she would make up her mind to speak to me every time or not to speak at all. My friend seems very hard to understand at times.

One of my friends has a habit of making elaborate explanations about everything. Sometimes my reaction is that things didn't happen that way at all but that her story is the way she wishes it had been, or the way she thinks I'd have preferred it to be; so I am never quite sure how it really was. This sounds rather insignificant on paper, but this habit of hers is provoking.

I wish my roommate wouldn't ask to borrow money, although she asks only for small sums. I also wish she wouldn't ask to wear my clothes when she has plenty of her own-if she would only keep them clean and pressed.

My friend has the habit of forever worrying about grades. This is very annoying to me, especially since the grades she has at the end of the quarter are never below B.

I wish my friend would not be so pessimistic about things. No matter what it is, she never hopes for or expects the best. She thinks that there is something wrong with everything she does, says, or wears; and she shuns any sort of praise.

I wish my friend wouldn't always insist on having her way all the time. I wish we could do what she likes one time, and what I like the next time. I enjoy musical entertainments; and when we attend one, I wish she would refrain from talking all through it.

My friend has very good taste in clothes and is always neatly dressed. I like her in every way except for one thing -she will leave her handkerchief lying around. I wish that someone would call this annoying habit to her attention.

My friend is a very fine-looking fellow and is very generous to me. He is polite and always dresses neatly. He is punctual and one can rely upon him to do things properly. He is intelligent and spends his spare time in reading or study. The one thing I wish my friend wouldn't do is interrupt a person who is talking and say that he himself had the same experience in his home town. That gets very monotonous, and a person soon doubts the stories he tells, even if they really are true. If my friend could overcome this habit, I think that he would be perfect.

My friend is a very attractive person. She knows how to wear her clothes and knows the type of clothes suitable for her. She is always well groomed and has excellent manners. She has a pleasant personality, well rounded by several good hobbies. But there is one thing that I wish she wouldn't do. She is constantly patronizing. She will say, "Oh, you were really able to do that by yourself." It is a little thing, but it detracts a great deal from her personality.

One thing that my friend does that I dislike is as follows: As soon as we get a good radio program with popular songs, he immediately starts singing-and lie cannot sing. Another thing: he talks to me and asks me questions while I am studying.

I have a very sincere friend, but she always sniffles whenever she appears in public. It is merely a nervous habit, but it is very embarrassing to me and her other friends.

I wish my friend, who takes great pride in her ability as a hostess, would not say when one refuses to take a second helping or even a first helping of food one does not care for, "But it's good for you-its caloric content is so and so:"

I have a girl friend who has a pleasing personality, is pretty, dresses well, and usually has good manners. However, she does one thing that I wish she wouldn't do. When we go to a show, she often becomes excited and cheers the hero or the heroine in an exciting part of the picture. When she does this, people turn and smile, and that embarrasses both of us. Of course, she does it only because she becomes interested in the picture and forgets herself; but just the same, I wish she wouldn't do it.

I wish my best friend would not bite her lips when she is apparently meditating on a difficult subject. Because of this bad habit, her lips are slightly rounded and have acquired a bluish color.

My friend is a fine lad. He always dresses to look his best. He is a good-hearted, hard-working chap, but there are two things I wish he wouldn't do: use poetry in personal conversation; and continually bring up all his good grades, forgetting, of course, the poor ones.

I dislike to have my friend always correcting my English; and when I am talking with someone, I hate to have her correcting me on some name I have mispronounced.

One of my best friends has a very pleasing personality, but he has one bad habit-he talks continually about the things he or some member of his family has done. A few of these stories don't bother me, but after so long a time it is very boresome to have to listen to them. He doesn't mean to annoy with these stories, but he really doesn't realize that they do irritate people. If someone would only tell him, I'm sure he'd be a friend second to none.

My friend annoys me by interrupting me while I am talking, and I wish people wouldn't look as if they were bored or amused at mistakes I make in English. They probably make as many as I do-maybe more.

I cannot think of many things wrong with my girl friend, but she has one habit I don't like. She is always pointing out people's faults to me, and I do my best to show her their good points. The result is, of course, an argument. I wish that we didn't argue this way.

I have a friend who is a nice lad-mannerly, a good sport, intelligent, and witty; but he has the habit of keeping time to music with his feet or hands. It is very annoying, especially in theaters or public places. I wish he wouldn't do it.

I wish my friend would be more prompt in answering my letters. She was my first roommate in college, and because of our past friendship, I wish so much that she would write to me more frequently.

I wish people would be more careful about their table manners, especially at the cafeteria. Some outstanding faults are: talking and laughing with food in the mouth, chewing food noisily, twisting paper napkins and throwing them in glasses or cups, tapping on the table, and playing with silver or the water glass.

My friend would rather be right than polite! He talks in such positive tones when he wants something done, and he is so particular about details. He tells me that I never have had any trouble and proceeds to tell me of the troubles he has had. He talks with such an air of antagonism. I do wish he knew how uncomfortable he often makes me feel.

We choose friends because of their likable qualities. This particular friend is witty, sweet-tempered, and quiet. She is interesting to talk with because she omits the uncomplimentary things about others. I never feel conspicuous while in her company in public. Despite all these good qualities, I know I should like her better if she did not have the habit of asking me to change my plans so I can go with her later; then she forgets our appointment, leaving me to find it out so late that I have to omit that activity from my day's program. She calls it forgetfulness and does not seem to realize my disappointment.

My friend has one major fault, though she is very sweet and is anything but two-faced or selfish. That is just it; she is too unselfish! She would give her last cent to anyone just for the asking, and she thinks that everyone else is the same way. It is very hard to say anything to her when she feels this way. But I have always been taught that, if you don't like to lend, don't borrow; so I never borrow. What would you do in a case like this?

My friend and I have been acquainted for years; we have many interests in common, but she has one fault that gives me many embarrassing moments. When we are with a group, my friend may suddenly become angry at something that she imagines has been said about her. She will not say another word all evening. After I have explained what the person meant, she immediately becomes her old, gay self again. I wish my friend would try to overcome this childish habit.

She is a charming girl, well dressed, always groomed to the nth degree, a grand sport, and very broad-minded. We are the same age; we like swimming, bicycle riding, movie going, hiking, and dancing. But she does one thing that I dislike: she points at people, showcases, or anything else that attracts her attention on the spur of the moment. She does this always in a very conspicuous place.

When my friend starts to tell something, I feel that I should help her along by supplying words here and there (but of course I never do). She gets everyone's attention by starting to tell of some incident; then, in the middle of the story, she becomes interested in her fingernails or her dress sleeve or her ring. As a result, a person has to sit and watch her play with these things while she tries to think of what she is going to say. She fills in the gaps with "ah's," and "and ah's," not giving anyone a chance to make believe she has finished. When she finally gets through with the story, it is so chopped up and lengthy that one can't even remember what it was about.

I have a very good friend. She is sincere in every respect and would gladly do anything for me, but she has two faults that are very annoying. Every time we go out accompanied by others, my friend begins to talk of her past experiences that the rest of us know nothing about. She tells the same thing over and over again. To gain attention in the presence of others, she raises her voice until everyone in the room can hear. I do wish she wouldn't do that.

I have a friend who is attractive, intelligent, and has a very nice personality; but there is one thing I wish she wouldn't do. She chews gum constantly. The worst of it is that she isn't careful how she chews it. She opens her mouth wide and chews the gum hard, making it crack. Should I be frank and tell her how it looks and sounds, or just let it go on?

I have a very fine friend who is attractive, generous, and, most of the time, a grand companion. Of course, she is not perfect. One little fault that particularly irritates me is the fact that she whispers continually during a party or a show. This makes me feel conspicuous. If she has any comments to make, she could wait until we get home. I have told her how this annoys me, but. it seems to have no effect on her.

A very good friend of mine continually talks about herself. No matter what is spoken of, she in some way relates it to herself. She does not have a very large circle of friends, and I think the reason probably is that she is too selfcentered.

Although he is not tall, dark, and handsome, my friend is nice-looking and dresses well. If IQ.'s mean anything, he is exceptionally intelligent; and I know from experience that he is a very interesting and clever conversationalist. He does not drink or smoke, and he is one of the most courteous young men on the campus. And yet, in spite of all his good points, I don't believe I will ever dance with him again-not because he is not a good dancer, but because of his irritating habit of continually humming under his breath in a monotonous, off-pitch tone. I just can't stand that incessant hum!

My best friend has one bad habit. She does not listen when someone is talking to her, and may even interrupt a person in the middle of a sentence.

My friend's fault is the way she walks. She plods along. I guess that she puts her whole foot down at once. I wish that she would pay more attention to her posture, too.

My friend is nice-looking; she is poised and has good taste in clothing. She is very frank, particularly about the faults of others, and she is too inquisitive. She must know every detail about the new wardrobe, including the price of each article and the reason for choosing that particular color. She asks questions about everything. People do not like to wear anything new when they expect to see her, because they know they will be bombarded with questions.

My girl friend is nice-looking and has a pleasing smile for everyone. She dresses nicely and chooses her clothes well-with one exception. I do wish 'she wouldn't wear knee hose, for it greatly detracts from her appearance by invariably showing that gap between stocking top and dress hem when she sits down.

There is one thing that I sincerely wish my best friend wouldn't do. She is always complaining and feeling sorry for herself. She runs to everyone for sympathy every time any out-of-the-ordinary thing happens.

I have a swell pal, but she has the habit of hanging to my arm when we are walking, which I don't like. It irritates me very much, and I wish she wouldn't do it!

This person dresses in good taste, her voice is well modulated, and her manners are above average, but she has one habit that is positively embarrassing! She punctuates her speech with loud giggles that always draw unwelcome attention to herself and her companions.

I would like to tell something myself once, instead of having my friend interrupt and tell her version of the story. It seems that she can't wait until I get through.

I have a very close friend-in fact, a roommate-who is a likable person except for two things: he continually brags about himself, which is one fault I detest; and he wears my clothes. I don't mind having him borrow a necktie now and then, but when it gets to the point that every time I go for the necktie that I particularly want and find it gone, that is more than I can stand!

My best girl friend dresses as nicely as anyone could ask. She is attractive and conducts herself very well in public. She is generally liked by almost everyone at the first meeting. One thing about her that bothers me is she thinks she is better than other people. She is always right and cannot stand to have anyone correct her.

On the whole, this friend is the nicest one that I have found in school, but she insists upon doing one thing that annoys me. She "fishes" for compliments. Her dancing is good, but she is constantly saying that she cannot dance, or she isn't good-looking, or her dress isn't pretty, when she is certain that all these things are not true.

I have a girl friend who is always willing to do her part, is a good sport, and always pays her share of the expenses. But she has one habit that I sincerely wish she didn't have. She yawns anywhere and at any time without covering her mouth!

My best friend has one habit that I wish she didn't have. When she is nervous or excited, she bites her fingernails. She doesn't seem to realize that she is doing it. Is there any habit more childish and annoying than this one?

My best friend is really wonderful. Not until I met her did I know what a real friend could be. She is understanding and loyal, and we have no petty quarrels-but she criticizes people. Since I like practically everybody, it is annoying to hear, after I have been talking to a friend, "She has a funny giggle," or "He certainly thinks well of himself:" The next time I see the person who was criticized, I am annoyed with myself for noticing the giggle or whatever else has been mentioned.

Whenever I turn on the radio, my friend, who is a pianist and knows the popular songs, always hums or sings. I can't carry a tune, so I suffer in silence.

My friend is always willing to help others, and I have never heard her complain without reason; however, when she is with the gang, she has to make "catty remarks" about everybody and everything. She seems to forget that being considerate of the feelings of others, especially her close chums, is one of the strongest bonds of friendship.

The thing I wish my friend wouldn't do is rather an unusual one. I wish she would not worry so much about her grooming. She is small, trim, and neat-looking; and, as the expression goes, "always looks as if she had just stepped out of a bandbox." But oh! The trouble and worry that go with it! She always has to look just so; her stockings must be of the proper shade and texture; every hair must be in the right place; and her fingernails must be manicured several times a week. She is too particular about her grooming, and I-I am not quite particular enough.

My friend is never quite at home conversationally, unless the topic is clothes. This is all very well for a time, but becomes as tiresome to me as my choice of topics probably is to her. I wish she knew something about a few more subjects.

My friend has many admirable qualities. Her personality makes her such enjoyable company! She is very well read on many different subjects and can converse on almost any topic, but I wish she would not stare so intently into one's eyes at such close range when she becomes so interested in the discussion that she forgets all else.

My friend has a lovely personality, a winning smile, and a neat, attractive appearance. She is really a fine friend and pal, but I do wish she wouldn't use such large words and such stilted expressions. Doesn't she know she makes herself conspicuous?

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