Quiz: Are You Kind . . . Or Kind of Rude?
We’re talking about etiquette, people. And it’s more than simply not picking your nose at the dinner table. (But eww! Don’t do that either!)
If the word etiquette makes you think of people in white pants pouring tea for each other, think again. It’s a much graver situation than that. Etiquette (aka “little ethics”) is a set of guidelines that can tell you how to do the right thing—in order to make you and the people around you happier, and to make the world a better place.
Giving up your seat for an old person, keeping a secret, apologizing when you hurt someone’s feelings—these might seem small, but they demonstrate who you are in a big way. As one teen said, “You’re never going to be lying on your deathbed wishing you’d been a bigger jerk.” True that.
But knowing the correct etiquette for a given situation can be tricky. Larry Cohen, a psychologist, recommends thinking about your two types of “gut” reactions: “One is the sense of what feels right, and the other is the sense of what feels good. Some things are both, like helping a friend. Some things feel ethically right but don’t feel good, like keeping a confidence instead of sharing juicy gossip.”
Knowing the right thing to do can help you in so many ways: Your parents will trust you more, your peers will respect your opinions, and your teachers will give you the benefit of the doubt. It’s a triple-win.
WOULD YOU DO THE RIGHT THING?
Take our etiquette quiz and find out if you're kind...or just kind of rude.
QUESTION: Your grandma knits a sweater for your birthday. It looks awesome, but it’s crazy itchy! When she asks how you like it, you...
A. Explain that it’s not comfortable. After all, it’s important to be honest.
B. Express your amazement over how long it must have taken to knit!
C. Tell her how much you love it so she won’t feel bad.
ANSWER: B. You can be kind and honest at the same time. By taking time to notice the care your grandmother put into your gift, you are honoring her effort without saying something false. She’ll feel appreciated, and you’ll feel good.
RULE: Be kind.
QUESTION: An ex-BFF—you’ve grown apart—invites you to a Bruno Mars concert. You should . . .
A. Accept. You’d love to go, and you don’t have to hang out once you get there.
B. Say you’re not sure. Then see what your current friends think about it.
C. Decline nicely. You don’t want to pursue a friendship and don’t want to use your former pal.
ANSWER: C. Don’t gossip or mislead. Say something kind, such as: “I can’t go, but thank you so much for inviting me! We must have listened to that Bruno Mars album a million times!” It will help keep your former friend’s pride and dignity intact.
RULE: Be respectful.
QUESTION: Your friend is having a crisis, and she begs you to cut class to talk. Your response?
A. Give her a hug and say you’ll meet her at lunch. Missing class isn’t an option.
B. Skip math. Your friend is freaking out, and she’s always been there for you.
C. Recommend that she speak with the school counselor. This isn’t the first time she’s needed to talk ASAP, and it’s not like you’re a trained therapist.
ANSWER: A, B, or C. You have competing responsibilities here: as a student and as a friend. If your friend really needs you, then you should help her (B), but only if you explain the situation to your teacher first. (A) or (C) are OK too, especially if you’re struggling in class.
RULE: Be responsible.
QUESTION: A few friends are gossiping about another friend in front of you. What do you do?
A. Tell them that it’s not cool to talk about people behind their backs.
B. Walk away. Hopefully your friends will get the message that you want no part of it.
C. It’s OK to laugh a little, as long as you aren’t saying anything mean.
ANSWER: A or B. Walking away is OK, but speaking up is the classy move. State your disapproval and then turn the conversation in a positive direction.
RULE: Be trustworthy.
QUESTION: Your parents always ask you prying questions. You should...
A. Wear earbuds. Tune them out and they’ll get the message: MYOB.
B. Maneuver the conversation away from you. Talk about a movie you’re excited about or a cool app they’d like.
C. Tell them directly that they’re too nosy—then maybe they’ll leave you alone.
ANSWER: B. But there can be a fine line between comfortable and rude. Being polite might actually satisfy them all on its own.
RULE: Be gracious.
QUESTION: Your teacher asks if you’ll be a buddy to the odd new kid— sit with him at lunch, introduce him to your friends. Your response?
A. No. You don’t want your friends to think you’re weird too.
B. Agree halfheartedly. You can always ditch the new kid later.
C. Be his buddy, even if your friends call you a teacher’s pet.
ANSWER: C. Imagine what it feels like to be the new kid, and how grateful you’d be if someone were nice to you. Being empathetic is always the right answer.
RULE: Be compassionate.