Your course of action: “The criticizer relies on his ability to bait you,” says Sue Fox, author of Etiquette for Dummies ($22, amazon.com). Don’t take the bait. Thank him, point out facts he may have overlooked, and move on. If he keeps offering barbed comments disguised as advice, Caroline Tiger, author of How to Behave ($15, amazon.com), suggests cutting him off with a breezy “Don’t worry about me—I’m fine!”
The Slacker: Often heard saying: “Yup, just a sec...I’ll be riiiight in.”
The offense: Refuses to help with the cooking, cleaning, child care, or even candle-lighting.
Your course of action: “Entertain the possibility that this person doesn’t realize anyone needs help, or perhaps he’s worried that if he were given a task to complete, he’d fail,” says Tiger. Give him precise instructions, something like “Vincent, it would be a great help if you went ahead and started rinsing the dishes. Let me get you an apron.”
The Cheerleader: Often heard saying: Anything with exclamation points. “Hey, guys! Let’s bundle up and go caroling in the snow!”