Polite Ways To Ask People To Be More Polite

Is your boss, best friend, or boyfriend doing something that drives you crazy and might even be raising your risk of getting sick? Here’s a modern “etiquette survival guide” for a few sticky situations that’ll hopefully leave you on speaking terms.

First: Your boss coughs and sneezes all over your workspace without covering their mouth. You may feel like grabbing the disinfectant spray. But etiquette expert Philip Galanes (“guh-LAH-knees”) says try saying something like: “That’s quite a cold you have there, would you like a box of tissues for your office?” And to increase their incentive to sneeze elsewhere, try adding, “You don’t want to get me sick before I finish your expense reports, right?”

Another sticky situation: A good friend keeps inviting you over for dinner, but their cats are all over the food prep areas, stove, and dinner table, often climbing up straight from the litter box. Yes, it’s reasonable to want to keep the cats off the table during dinner, but remember, most people consider pets to be members of their family. So, it would be like asking them to put their toddler in the other room. Your best bet: Suggest you go out to dinner or invite them to your place instead.

One final habit that’s driving you crazy: Your boyfriend uses your smart phone or iPad while he’s eating, then licks his fingers, and keeps on touching. Our etiquette expert says your boyfriend probably never considered how gross that is. So, say something like: “Would you mind washing your hands before you use my computer? Touch-screen devices contain 18 times more bacteria than the flush handle on a toilet.

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