Bodily Noise Etiquette….Really!


By: Maralee McKee

A whole post about bodily noise etiquette?


I know that burps and — um — “not burps” seem like odd etiquette topics.

In fact, I feel edgy writing about them. If you’ve been part of the Manners Mentor family for even a week, you know “edgy” isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you think, “Maralee.”

I’m as straight as 6:00 on a clock! 

In truth, talking about bathroom things can get foul. (Pardon the pun.) It’s like two kid brothers whispering and snickering in the backseat of the minivan. I have two boys. Trust me, bathroom talk is the verbal thread of boyhood.

In regards to this post, you don’t need to cringe, or shield your children. These savvy skills will help you in your time of etiquette crisis whether you’re 6 or 46. In fact, you’ll want to share these skills with your family. But probably not over dinner.

Wondering why I chose this topic?

I want you to be able to count on me as the friend and mentor to share with you how to shine in ANY situation.

That’s my brand of etiquette.

Our Manners Mentor family is where the ivory towers of etiquette meet your everyday lives.

This topic is essential information for your social skill success, and for you I’ll come out of my comfort zone!

If you think about it, we’re held hostage when it comes to bodily noises. We can choose to control our words, our thoughts, our attitudes, our actions, and our beliefs.

Our intestinal tracts, well…they’re going to do what they’re going to do without seeking wise counsel from our more controlled and genteel side prior to their public outbursts.

When this happens, our dignity is left paralyzed with doubt about the right course of action to recover from our body’s betrayal.

Those around us are equally embarrassed and perplexed about how to respond, or whether they should respond at all.

As your Manners Mentor (Thank you, by the way, for allowing me that honor. I’m grateful for the trust and friendship we share!), and in the interest of your dignity, below in easy bullet points, you’ll find the solution for what to do both when your intestinal tract has betrayed you and when you’re the innocent bystander.

Oh, before I forget, when you’re finished reading the etiquette tips, I’d consider it a dear favor if you’d take a minute to read my personal update that follows. It’s some big news and an invitation!

Bodily Noise Etiquette


Let’s start with the lesser of the evils, shall we, and work our way up (or would that be down?)!

Everyone — I guess this would include even the Queen herself — burps. There’s no reason to be overly embarrassed. Exchange the energy you would spend on embarrassment for handling the situation with ease, confidence, and a little savvy!

When you feel a burp coming on, follow these four steps:

1. Keep your lips closed and try to be as quiet as possible.

2. Take your left hand (your right hand if you’re left-handed) and make a fist. Raise your fist to your mouth and burp into the part where your thumb and first (pointer) finger circle one another.

3. Turn your head to one shoulder or the other as you burp into your fist. Which side to turn your head? Well, if there’s no one on a particular side, choose that side. If there’s someone on both sides, you’ve got a choice to make. Who will mind the least? If your neighbor is on your right, and your husband is on your left, turn your head to your left. It’s no disrespect; it just goes with being family!

4. Say, “Pardon me!” to no one in particular but so that anyone who heard you burp will also hear your confession.

If you’re near someone who burps:

· The less said the better. Simply smile a little smile that says, “Been there, done that!” Do this well and you’re going to be a hero!

· If you feel you must say something (really, though, you don’t have to say anything), a simple, “Of course” or ”Sure” is all that’s needed.

Passing Gas

Yes, I know; I didn’t even like typing the words. This is the bodily function people dread happening to them or anyone near them. I wish there were a magic wand to make it all go away, but of course there isn’t. Here are the tips that will help you handle it as well as possible next time.

If you pass gas:

· Passing gas is called a “social unmentionable.” That means no matter what, shhh! We don’t mention it in adult company!

· If you’re at home with family or out with one or two dear friends and you feel you must say something, then simply say, “Pardon me.” But really, you don’t have to say a word! (Doesn’t that make you feel better?)

· When in a crowd or with strangers, usually never mention it. “Owning it” is not actually the best choice. Because it’s a social unmentionable, it’s really best not to draw attention to it.

If you’re with someone who passes gas:

· If the person who passes the gas says, “Excuse me,” simply give a little smile the same as with a burp and be quick to carry on the conversation you were having prior to the incident.

· Passing gas is embarrassing for the offender and the offended. Resist the urge to say anything or to laugh at the expense of the other person.

· If the smell becomes bothersome, simply say, “Excuse me” and leave the room without explanation. When you return, no explanation is needed either.

For families:

· At home with your children, you might want to establish a rule that makes them apologize quickly when around family members. Otherwise, a lengthy and giggle-filled game of “I didn’t do it; he did!” is likely to frequently erupt!

· When in public, as long as your child wasn’t doing it on purpose, whether he or she burps or passes gas, it’s just as embarrassing for little ones as it is for us. It’s kind to teach them the “adult etiquette” listed here and allow them to follow it.


Well, there you have it, what to do if you’re the offender or the offended. Simple skills with big rewards when it comes to handling these embarrassing but inevitable situations with ease, confidence, and with your dignity in tact!

What’s Next:

If you have any friends who might enjoy the blog, this would be a great post to use to introduce them. It’s etiquette, but definitely not stuffy! Forward it on to them now! Also, please help me spread the Manners Mentor Movement by Liking, Forwarding, and Sharing this email with your friends, family, and those in your social media circles, because what we’ve talked about here is going to happen to everyone, and everyone will appreciate knowing how best to handle it before the next time it happens!

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Many blessings and great gratitude,

Maralee McKee

About Maralee McKee

Maralee McKee is the founder of Manners Mentor. With her best-friend style, sense of humor, and knack for updating etiquette to meet our modern sensibilities, she has been referred to as "Sandra Bullock meets Emily Post!" Maralee shows you how to become the best version of yourself. No fluff. No pretense. Just you at your authentic best! The person you were always meant to be! To learn more about Maralee click on the "Meet Maralee" or "New? Start Here" links at the top of this page.

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