Be a Good Guest: Honor House Rules

The season is upon us where many people travel for Thanksgiving or Christmas or both. There is nothing as memorable as how we behave as house-guests. Talk about the most intimate opportunity we have to demonstrate who we are and our respect and appreciation for hospitality of others in the Face to Face space. A recent visit to New York City- where I spent four nights with one friend and several with another friend- made me realize that being thought of as an “easy” and gracious guest must be our goal.

Some tips I learned from the horror stories that have been shared with me:

DON’T ever color your hair in someone else’s home. They don’t want their towels turned red or brunette. Two people told me of guests who did this.

Clear toiletries out of the bathroom as hosts don’t want to see your accoutrements strewn in their space.

Clean up the sink and any of your hairs that may have vacated your head and landed on their floors. One of my hosts mentioned that I was losing hair. I learned to “Swifter” the floor after I did my hair.

Keep your things/suitcases neat and as self-contained as possible. I often stayed with a cousin in her one bedroom condo. Once she put my suitcase in the closet to get it out of her eyesight. I got the hint!

Only bring your pets into a host’s space when invited to do so, Make arrangements for them before you leave home.

Pick up some tabs whether it’s for groceries, meals, movies, theater or Sporting events. After all, you are saving hotel costs thanks to your host. A gift of what they like is also a nice touch.

Bring or buy your own food if you have food allergies or dietary preferences. Don’t expect your host to have gluten free, vegan, non-salt, vegetarian fare or be your personal chef.

Clean your dishes and mugs. Never leave your dirty dishes in someone else’s sink. One friend mentioned a house-guest (who will never be invited again) left dishes for her to clean.”There was a sponge, dishwashing liquid right on the sink. She’s NEVER found my dishes in my sink.Why would she think that her dishes would be OK?”

Ask permission to do those things you may like to do. Every host is different and has unique preferences. Honor them.

Invite your host on some of your adventures as your guest.

Be enthusiastic around their children and don’t expect them to cater to yours.

PLEASE don’t squabble with spouse or kids in someone’s home. No one wants to think the Bickersons are their guests.

Honor the unwritten rules. If your host likes the morning quiet for a cup of coffee and the newspaper, take a walk, read a book and be low-keyed.

Ask your host their time limits for your stay and honor it.

Remember the old saying: After three days, both fish and company stink! Follow these rules to turn the air from pungent to pleasing!

This article is adapted and updated from the Silver Anniversary edition of How To Work a Room®.

Find Susan RoAne at @susanroane.

About Susan RoAne

Susan RoAne leads a double life as a sought-after professional keynote speaker and a bestselling author. Known as The Mingling Maven®, she gives diverse audiences the required tools, techniques and strategies they need to connect and communicate in today’s global business world. The San Francisco Chronicle says she has a “dynamite sense of humor.” To hire Susan to speak for your company, association or college, 1.415.461.3915