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Simple Guidelines of Behaviour for Houseguests

by Omolola Ajayi
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  • Learn very important etiquettes to make you an esteemed visitor
  • Every Nigerian houseguest, visitor must hear this

How to be an honourable houseguest

Whenever you have course to visit and stay over at someone’s house, you should strive to leave a good impression of yourself and make your host happy that they accommodated you. There are some basic manners that you can observe to present yourself in favourable light. Some of them will be more useful for you if you’ll be a guest for more than a week or a month but beyond that, if you observe these guidelines, you’re sure to get a pass mark from your host.

Within some of our cultural settings, people sometimes take their hosts for granted especially when they are relatives and family members. A lot of improper behaviour and bad manners are expected to slide and be borne by hosts in situations where someone like a long-time friend, an in-law or an older relative has come to visit. The truth, however, is that bad manners have consequences and in this case, it may mean that your host will make excuses the next time you want to visit or that they mention to others to mark you as someone to be avoided. It may even just be ill-feelings towards you as guest; that’s not something you should want especially when you can avoid it

  • Come with a gift
    It doesn’t have to be anything expensive but arriving at the home where you’ll be hosted with a gift is the proper thing to do. If you’re a parent who has a young child staying with someone else for a few days or weeks or months, send them over with a gift. If your child is anything older than teenager, say about 16 and above, get them to bring a personal gift to their hosts.
    Coming empty-handed might portray you as someone who does nothing but take. It might not go down well with your hosts especially if you’re going to be staying for quite a while.
  • Always ask to be on the safe side
    Don’t go around assuming what you don’t know in a house that’s not yours; ask questions about basic house rules and about anything you’re not so sure about. Ask about how and when home appliances are used; dishwashers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners and the likes. Ask for directions on any appliance you don’t know how to use; don’t be presumptuous or proud. If you damage it, don’t expect your host not to be upset. If you can’t ask, it’s better to leave things as they are. Ask about where you can offer a helping hand. Ask permission to use things; don’t engage in over-familiarity. Ask about the rules concerning the time for lights out; it is really rude to be a guest who flouts the curfew rules of your host. If you must, take permission.
    There’s a proverb that says the person who keeps asking for directions can never miss her way. It a good rule to apply to your time as a houseguest.
  • Find a way to lend a helping hand
    Don’t be an imprudent guest; look out for ways where you can lend a helping hand. You can volunteer to help those who graciously housed you with little things like taking out the trash, helping with some house chores, helping in the kitchen or running any other errands.
    You don’t have to do all the work or take on too much but it’s a really nice gesture to offer your help. Your host might even forbid you from doing anything but it’s always good to volunteer. They may also resist at first but later on, they could share some chores with you. Being able to help is something you should be happy about especially if you made the request to come and stay and if you’re going to be staying for a while.
    Your host may say nothing but know that they notice if you never offer to help around the house. This is especially true if you are younger person who is getting other benefits from them like feeding. They may not ask you but it can colour their impression about you. If they have to ask, they may already see you as imprudent.
    Offering to help may not be necessary if you’re elderly or you’re staying no more than a week or you’re really busy and hardly ever around but it doesn’t hurt to make that gesture. It often goes a long way.
  • Let them have their space
    Don’t be naïve to think that your hosts will want to spend all their time with you. You probably don’t want to spend all your time with them. They may be happy to talk with you and hang out but let your host have their space.
    If you’re on holiday, don’t expect them to be your tour-guide all the time. You may invite them on some outings but don’t expect to always say yes especially if they have to work or have other responsibilities.
    Don’t expect them to entertain you all the time; watch their mood. Sometimes, they just may want to be alone as if there’s no else around. Don’t take it personal and don’t be too forward.
    Keep your room clean
    Even if you’re the rough type in your own house, endeavour to keep your room or any personal space you have been allotted clean enough to please your host. You never can tell, they may have course to come to your room and they may not like how it looks. If you have smoking habit or something else, it would be wise to always go outside to indulge; don’t do it in the room.
  • Avoid being loud
    Loud music, loud phone calls, loud laughter or any other loudness that will disturb others is not a good thing for a houseguest; It is good to be discreet. If you’re home alone or you’re sure that it’s not disturbing anyone, you can do whatever you like but once there’s a possibility that you might be disturbing your host, it’s better to tone it down.
  • Get your own personal supplies
    After the soap, toiletries and other personal use items that your host supplied are finished, the responsible thing is start getting them for yourself. It looks like mooching if you expect them to do everything for you. This is more important if you’re staying over for anything more than one or two weeks. Get your own supplies and also, it does hurt for you to get yourself some provisions that you can eat especially when your host are at work or out of the house so you’re not hanging on to them for every meal.
    Take care of the things you’re using.
    From bed sheets, blankets to towels and other items that have been provided for your use, please make sure you take good care of them. Wash them regularly, use them carefully and if you need to replace anything, do so.
  • Report any losses or damage
    If anything happens to get lost or damaged while you were using it or while it is in your care, please inform your hosts. They may be unhappy about it but it is better that way. You may offer to repair to replace item but they are likely to say no especially if it is a minor thing.
    Don’t keep quiet about items that were broken or spoiled in your care. When they eventually find out, it will reflect badly on you. You don’t want that.
  • When it’s time to leave say “Thank You”
    It is not easy for anyone to host or accommodate you and it’s not your right, even if they are your close friends or family. Say a humble and heartfelt thank you for their graciousness. If they fed you and made sure you were comfortable say thank you for that too. If you noticed that they inconvenienced themselves in any way to be able to accommodate, show your gratitude.
    If you made an explicit request to come and stay with your host or someone else made it on your behalf, please make sure you say thank you at the end of your stay for the granting of that request.
    If you can leave a parting gift, it is a great idea. Find something you know your host would appreciate. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive; may be a favourite drink or snack or something that would mean something to them.

Good manners make you welcome anywhere you go. Being a well-mannered houseguest would be beneficial as you travel to that new city for a new job, or visit your relatives or go for your NYSC. It will make you well remembered. Don’t be surprised if it gets you a referral for other things because how you carry yourself as a guest is a good indication of your character. Be a good houseguest.

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