We’re all guilty of making an etiquette mistake from time to time, whether we accidentally forget to say “please” when placing our morning coffee order or fail to adequately cover our mouth when we sneeze. However, by the time you hit your 40s, not abiding by the rules when it comes to politeness doesn’t come across as quirky or absentminded—it’s interpreted as downright rude.
“Etiquette isn’t about snobbishness,” explains Marie Betts-Johnson, president of the International Protocol Institute of California, which specializes in business etiquette and diplomacy. “It’s about inherent respect for everyone.”
So, before you accidentally burn bridges with your bad behavior, it’s time to learn—and remedy—these etiquette mistakes you can’t afford to keep making after 40.