12 most thoughtful tips for keeping your foot out of your mouth

Avoid awkward situations—in business and in your social life—by abiding by these rather easy guidelines.

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1. It’s much easier to keep your lips zipped than to make amends for a blunder you blurted. Always true, this one. Making amends is never quick or easy.

2. Asking about someone’s salary, mortgage, debts or assets are fine—if you are the person’s financial advisor. And it’s impolite in pretty much any other circumstance. Need proof? Just try it out and see.

3. It’s fine to say, “We will just have to agree to disagree on that.” Why, oh, why do people feel the need to not only offer their opinion but also try to convert the whole group? It’s OK if you feel a certain way. And it’s OK, if I don’t. So, before you ramp up the conversation, volume, and tension—and say something you regret—just agree to disagree. Done.

4. Unless a woman has informed you directly that she’s pregnant, don’t ask her about her fertility status—even if she’s about to burst into labor. Uh, just trust me on this one, OK?

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