How Can I Encourage House Guests to Take Off Their Shoes?

Try these tips to (politely) get people to follow your rules.

0409shoes-stand
Photo by Rick Lew

Q. I grew up in a country where it is considered very rude to wear shoes inside the house. As a rule, I don’t wear shoes inside my home, and I don’t wish others to do so, either. I even keep a shoe rack right by the door.

However, I find that when people visit my house, they often wear their shoes inside and sometimes even ignore their kids jumping on my furniture with their shoes still on. How can I make it clear to people that I want them to take off their shoes without having to tell them directly?

H. K.

A. This might be hard for you to imagine, but guests who are accustomed to wearing shoes indoors might be oblivious to the visual cues that you’re offering. (Why their children are jumping on your furniture—with or without shoes on—we will set aside for now.)

Contrary to your wish, the only way to make anything clear is by communicating directly, and that’s what you should do. In this case, it’s as simple as saying, “We don’t wear shoes in the house. Would you mind taking yours off? Thank you so much.” I speak from experience here, as mine is a no-shoe house as well. Every now and then, somebody has a good reason to remain shod—a bad case of plantar fasciitis, for example. But, in general, I find that people are happy to accommodate the request. So assume that your friends would much prefer an opportunity to abide by your wishes than to blunder unknowingly into an offense.

Catherine Newman

More Q&As 

 

Want to Ask Your Own Etiquette Question? 

Submit your social conundrums to Catherine at realsimple.com/modernmanners. Selected letters will be featured on the website each month.