Tag Archives: social etiquette

The Smiling Face Experiment


by Jake McMillan

You might like to know the results of a social experiment I conducted using my flatmates … without their knowledge. 

It will not surprise you to discover that this experiment was not carried out using the highest levels of scientific standards. Even the hypothesis being tested is also somewhat questionable, but hey, sometimes fun is more important than science. 

Okay, so here’s what happened … someone told me that if you put up a photo of a happy smiling face, it makes people more honest and considerate (e.g. at work, if you put a smiling photo near the office kettle, the amount of money in the honesty pot for tea & coffee goes up). Apparently there are studies to support this, but I have not found anything online to back this up (if you know anything about whether there is any truth in this or not, please let me know). Anyway, I thought this might “the solution” to the dishwasher issues with my flatmates.

Regulars of this blog will already be aware of the difficulties I have had with my flatmates who seem to not know how to use a dishwasher and think it is full of little cleaning pixies who will sort out whatever you put in, no matter how you put it in. I’m not some sort of dishwashing Nazi, but think it is nice to have clean plates, mugs and cutlery. I even wrote an email from the dishwasher (called Glen), pleading with them to help him do a better job. Yeah, yeah, whatever, you must know by now I’m slightly odd.

Anyway, I thought maybe the use of the smiling face might help in the dishwashing department. Perhaps it would make my flatmates more conscientious in using it? So I put up the photo below:

It was quite funny as when I put the photo up I suddenly realised that I had not thought of a reasonable excuse as to why I had put it up? I couldn’t say the truth as it would void the results of the experiment. The first night it was up, none of the other flatmates (there are 3 of them, two girls and a Neil) noticed. Then, the next morning … I heard whispering, one of them had spotted it, they then told the other and then the other. I was ready to answer questions, but no one said anything to me about it?!

Week 1
I initially thought there was a small improvement in dishwasher usage, but three or four days later we are back to the normal usage and the dishwasher is completely overloaded to the extent that the spinning jets can’t spin round and stuff inside cannot possibly be cleaned. Result: no change/unsuccessful

Perhaps it was the photo I chose? So, for Week 2 I put up a different photo to see if that might have a different impact?

Week 2
The photo did seem to have a different effect. It seemed to make the situation worse! With even poorer use of the dishwasher and big build up of dirty pans and plates above it, the kitchen was a bit of a mess.

Still no one asked me  about the photos?!

Week 3
I took down the photo and things seemed to improve back to the way they were.

Possible experiment conclusions:

  • Smiling photos have no effect
  • My flatmates prefer brunette smiling photos compared to blonde ones
  • Black and white photos are not as effective as colour ones (the colour catridge ran out in my printer)
  • My flatmates are conscientious users of the dishwasher, they are just incompetent
  • I’m a bit odd and my flatmates are clearly used to this

Stop Using Your Phone At The Cinema!


by Jake McMillan

Just stop it will you! There is no need. Stop being a dick. Please stop checking your phone whilst watching a film at the cinema.

Thankfully, gone are the days when some people actually answered a phone call during a movie. However, there are still lots of people who feel the need to regularly check their phone during the film for text messages, emails, Facebook updates, etc.  If you are one of these people, please just stop it.

You’re not at home, you are in dark room with lots of other people who have paid to watch a cinematic spectacle in the dark. When you check your phone, everyone to the side  of you and behind you DOES see it and IS distracted by it. Why should our enjoyment of a film be tainted just because Bob, someone who you don’t even know that well, sent you a SongPop request.

The point of going to the cinema to watch a film rather than watching a DVD or Blu-Ray is that you are paying for the privilege of watching it in silence in the dark on the big screen surrounded by others who also want to do the same. We pay over the odds to do this so that we can enjoy the film without the distractions and annoyances of daily life. No knocks at the door, no interruptions,  no pets jumping on you wanting to be fed, no phone calls, no anything … just you watching a film.

If you can’t handle spending two hours doing this, then don’t go into the fucking cinema in the first place. Expecting to hear your wife is about to go into labour? Rent a DVD or watch one online.

There is no need to check your phone in the cinema as we all know your life really isn’t that important and interesting that it can’t wait 90mins before dealing with. When you check your phone, the rest of us can all see it and we all then realise you are a total bellend.

So, cinema goers, pretty please … with sugar on top. Stop with your fucking phone.


Do you know the unwritten rules of modern communication?


With the proliferation of communication mechanisms in the last 20 years you will have noticed and conformed to as well broken the unwritten etiquette of modern communication.

For example, if someone communicates to you using a certain form of communication, e.g. Email, then you are expected to respond using the same form of communication or something higher up on the hierarchy.

The communication hierarchy is as follows:

Do people still write letters?!

If you respond with a lower form of communication, e.g. one person calls and leaves a voicemail and the other emails back, then the first person might feel snubbed, but it will depend, of course, on the nature/content of the message.

However, the communication hierarchy has an almost inverse correlation to the unwritten social convention of how quickly you are meant to respond to the various forms of communication without seeming rude.

The following table outlines the amount of time with which you are meant to respond to a general ‘how are you doing?’ contact:

Type of Contact Acceptable Response Time
SMS/Text Message Within 24hrs
Missed Call (with Voicemail) Within 2 days
Missed Call (No Voicemail) Within 6 days
Email Within 5 days
Letter Within a month
IM Message No response actually required

These response times can be considerably reduced depending on who is communicating to you and the nature of the communication, for example, if it is your partner, your boss or your mum!

Normally we instinctively know these rules but we all occasionally get them wrong, or some have different views of what the rules are, and then we end up offending someone.

Some people prefer to use certain forms of communication, e.g. my mate Alex always calls and practically never texts, where another Kim always texts and never calls.

We all know people who are particularly poor at responding to any sort of messages. I have one friend like this, but they do it to everyone so some think this is okay. I don’t. I think not responding to a communication shows lack of consideration and respect.

It doesn’t matter how busy you are everyone can spare the few seconds it takes to email or text a friend ‘Hey, how’s it going? Super busy at the moment but will be in touch in a few weeks’.


We have all been offended by someone else’s poor communication, but do we have a right to be upset with them if the rules are unwritten?


Women hog the hug!


Have you noticed when a man hugs a woman that in the vast majority of cases, the woman actually hogs the hug?! The man, in fact, does not really get a hug at all, he does all the hugging with the woman receiving the hug doing very little hugging back, just simply putting her arms around the man’s neck. In this modern age of equality, this seems rather unfair don’t you think?

You might argue this is not a gender issue, but merely a matter of height as on average men are taller and so it is easier for men and women to hug this way. Utter nonsense. It is much easier for the shorter person to hug around the other person’s body rather than to reach all the way up high and put arms around the neck and, similarly, it is easier for the taller person to reach over the other person’s shoulders than to reach lower around the body.

No, it is another of those silly social conventions that favour women over men, just like men are expected to pay for dinner on the first date. When men do a ‘man hug’ it is all very fair and equitable as one arm goes over the shoulder and one around the body in more of a sideways hug and the other man does the same thing. There is no reason at all for men and women who are friends not to use this approach, rather than the normal one-sided hug technique.

However, when in a relationship the sideways ‘man hug’ style approach to hugging is not quite intimate or close enough in some situations so the traditional one hugger, one huggee method is used, but why must the man be the hugger all the time?

Don’t get me wrong, giving the hug is fantastic and sometimes is better than receiving, but women why must you always hog the hug? It’s interesting to see women hug each other as the rule seems to be whoever gets their arms up first, gets to have the hug from the other person.

So ladies, instead of your seemingly pre-programmed need to be the huggee, why not try next time and be the hugger? And gents, don’t be afraid to lift your arms up higher and get the hug you deserve.

I am not bitter or a misogynist, maybe I just need a hug?

Jake McMillan

Related Posts:
Social Etiquette
1 or 2 Kisses?
I Hate Weddings
Internet 1st Dates


London Underground Etiquette



Some people mistakenly believe they are sitting comfortably on the London Underground, but in actual fact they are in a war-zone, with hundreds of silent battles in progress where even millimetres of territory are fought for. Why are so many people on the tube so inconsiderate?!

Even though they may be little acts of consideration, they are significant and important to us. For example, take arm rests (one of my personal bug bears), these are to be shared between TWO people and not to be monopolised by one person. It’s not rocket science and you don’t need a manual to figure this out, it is just good manners.

Then there are those men who must have elephant-sized testicles as the insist on sitting with their legs spread as wide as they can and don’t seem to care that they are taking up more space than they have been allotted or that they are touching the person next to them? I know there is not a massive amount of space, but in a big city of millions of people surely we have to be considerate to each other?

I am sure you will have experienced a crowded platform, the doors open, lots of people get off and then the first person gets on the carriage and just stops, instantly forgetting the 80 people behind also waiting to get on?! Or those people who try to get on whilst others are getting off. If we are not careful we will end up with the Paris model where it is accepted to just push each other out of the way getting on and off the train. This is hardly what I think is acceptable behaviour for modern civilised society!

Don’t get the impression I am a perfect tube gentleman, I am guilty, like we all have done, of forgetting my surroundings. I have been so absorbed in my pocket PC and ipod that I have not noticed someone needing a seat more than me. The person sitting next to me then offered their seat which is when I looked up to see 8 or so faces looking at me disapprovingly.

I have also been one of those annoying people with a big rucksack who has no awareness of bumping into others. My girlfriend once had to point out I was bumping into a man sitting down and being quite an apologetic person I swung round to say sorry and took out the woman sitting on the other side!

We all seem to, and I am not sure if there is actually a rule against this, collectively frown upon those eating fast food on the underground. What about those people with the worst earphones in the world? Or those who reach behind two people to grab one of those free newspapers?

None of us are perfect, but surely we can do better at showing a bit more consideration to our fellow 7 million Londoners. And if we do
fall short from time to time, not to bite the head off someone who kindly and politely points out an indiscretion. I promise I won’t bite your head off, but I still might accidentally hit you with a ruck sack.

Jake McMillan


Getting the girl to pay for Dinner!


Now we all know that when it comes to the first date there exists a socially accepted, gender-biased rule that men are meant to pay for dinner. But this is the 21st century; surely it should be 50:50 and, dare I say it, maybe even women should pay for the whole meal sometimes?

Well, this year I have been trying to see if I can get a woman to pay for dinner. I am part of the generation who have feminist mums and rightly believe that men and women are different but equal, and so when it comes to going out, any costs should be divided straight down the middle. But no!

Women say it is a “nice gesture” when the man offers to pay and it shows that the man wants to look after them. This is, of course, complete guff, but men have to put up with it if they want dates number two and three. The difficulty for men – and it really is a choice of principles or punani – is that there is no standard viewpoint. Some women are OK with 50:50 and many others are not.

Being a feminist myself, and ignoring the fact that I am a tight-fisted so-and-so (like you hadn’t guessed already), I believe passionately in equality, but I also wouldn’t mind being in a relationship too. So, what am I to do?

Until we can get more women to ask men out, the answer is how you ask a lady. For example, if I say, “I’d like to take you out to dinner,” the clear inference is that I am taking responsibility for the dinner. Whereas, if I suggest that it would be nice to meet up, and offer dinner as a possible activity and she accepts, then it is a mutual agreement and so a 50:50 split is more appropriate. Why should heterosexual dates have different rules to gay dates, where it is much more fair.

So, how many women did I get to pay for the whole meal? Zero, of course. The sad truth is that unless you “forget your wallet” (which will not get you date number two), women will not pay for dinner on a first date. Sorry guys, we’re just going to have to reach deep into our pockets, or stay at home and reach deep into our pockets!

Jake McMillan