We all know we should stay home and rest when we’re sick, but who has time for that these days?
A recent survey of more than 1,000 Americans found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of those who had the flu in the past three years admit to being “That Guy” — the one who despite feeling awful, simply won’t break with routine. The problem? At least some of those sick people are contagious, spreading their flu germs for all the world to pick up and carry on.
The survey also found that most of us (81%) understand we should cancel social obligations when we’re sick.
“Most of us try our best to be considerate and do the right thing,” said Anna Post, great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post and co-author of the 18th edition of the Emily Post’s Etiquette book. “While people recognize that the flu virus spreads easily, they admit to tossing proper etiquette aside when they have the flu.”
That’s right, Anna Post says we need to brush up on our flu etiquette!
The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is partnering with the Emily Post Institute to remind us to do the responsible thing during flu season and practice behavior that will help limit the spread of influenza.
“Every year, millions of Americans get the flu. We are all personally responsible for controlling its spread,” says Susan J. Rehm, M.D., NFID medical director. “The CDC recommends flu vaccine as the first and most important step in preventing influenza, as well as good hygiene and seeing a doctor for possible treatment with prescription flu medicines if symptoms arise. It’s important to know the symptoms of the flu so individuals can visit a doctor quickly to get properly treated before they risk spreading it to others.”
It’s not surprising, but the survey found 37% of Americans are uncomfortable telling “That Guy” he or she is sick and should stay away from others. The Emily Post Institute offers the following etiquette tips to handle these situations in a socially-acceptable way:
- In the workplace: If you’re at work and suffering flu symptoms (one key indication it’s the flu is a sudden onset), let your boss know and go home or go see the doctor as soon as possible. It’s better to ask your co-workers to pitch in while you’re sick than risk having your whole team under the weather.
- In social situations: Normally it’s considered rude to cancel a dinner party or event at the last minute, whether you’re hosting or attending. If you’re sick, do the right thing and call with your regrets. It’s better for everyone involved.
- Air travel: Talk about a difficult situation. You’re seated next to an obviously-sick traveler for hours on end (which, as we know from Flying the Sickly Skies is a great way to catch whatever your seatmate has) and there aren’t any empty seats available. Consider saying something like, “I can see you’re not feeling well. Would you mind covering your mouth when you cough? Thanks.” Most people will be eager to show good manners and do the right thing.
Interested in more flu etiquette for social events, the workplace, or traveling (which often can’t be called off even if you’re sick)? Check out all of the tips from the NFID and the Emily Post Institute.