If one enters a room, one should not sit between two people, but should sit to their left or right. Abu Dawud reported that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:
"Noone is to sit between two people without their permission"
Sometimes two people may be kind enough to favour a person by making room for them to sit between them. One should in this situation acknowledge the gesture by thankfully accepting and being greatful in a good manner by not sitting crossed legged and crowding them. One should be aware that it is not from correct adab to make someone get up for you.
"Two people are truly ungrateful: a person whome you give advice to and he hates you for it, and a person who is favoured with a seat in a tight place and he sits crossed legged".
(saying of Ibn A'araabi)
Listening in...and private conversations
If one sits next to two people one should be careful not to eavesdrop and listen to what they say, for it could be that their conversation is confidential and about a private matter. Eavesdropping is a bad habit and a sin. Imam Bukhari (رحمة الله عليه) reported that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:
"Whoever listens to people's conversation against their wishes will be punished by liquid lead being poured down their ears on the Day of Judgement".
If the conversation is not private then it is allowed for you to contribute that which is necessary. If one sees two people having a private conversation it is not permissible for one to go and join them. Similarly if there are 3 people in a gathering 2 of them should not exclude one by having a private conversation or a conversation in a language that the 3rd person does not understand, this is from bad adab. It may be that this is the cause of hurt, hatred or rancour in the heart of the 3rd person. It is an inappropriate manner to whisper something to the person next to you if you are in a group of three. Hence the 3rd person should not be isolated in this manner.
Imam Malik and Abu Dawud reported that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said:
"No two shall exchange whispers in the presence of a third person".
The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) emphasised "No two..." in an assertive negative form, indicating that such a mistake is not only inappropriate but dispicable. In another hadith reported in Bukhari:
"If you were three, two of you should not whisper to each other till you join other people, lest the third feel offended". Abdullah Ibn Umar (رضى الله عنه) was asked; "What if they are four?" "Then this doesn't matter", he answered; meaning it is not then offensive.
Whispers are usually secrets, so if a friend entrusted you with a secret, do not betray it. Do not tell even your best friend or closest relative.
In the company of elders
Generally one should seek to benefit from the company and wisdom of the elders who are traditionally described as "A fruit at the end of the season" or "A sun setting among the clouds". Soon they will depart and leave us behind. Be keen to attend the gatherings of elders, scholars, pious persons, nobles and relative so you may benefit. All to soon we lament at the departure of the irrecoverable loss and missed opportunities. When a person in your company speaks to you afce them, do not ignore them, give them their right of respect and be attentive.