A lot has been published lately about dining etiquette and I can understand why. Most of us were raised on MacDonald’s, Burger King or Pizza Hut. For most of us we are lost when it comes to your first convention banquet. Knowing about which fork to use and what to do with your napkin will help you feel confident in such unfamiliar situations. Many executives read up on these or are coached so they can give off a polished image that says that they are comfortable and confident in the most posh of surroundings. In fact, someone once told me, that to hang out with the rich you needed to know the appropriate behavior and get comfortable with nice things. When you have the know-how, then you will give off the aura of being well-to-do as well. Here are some tips so that you can feel confident in any dining situation:
- Don’t talk with your mouth full, chew with your mouth full or smack when eating.
- Sit at the table in a comfortably erect posture, not like the naval academy!
- Place your napkin in your lap when you sit down. Please don’t tuck it in your shirt or blouse.
- Don’t stack your dishes when you’re done. On a side note, I would also wish that waiters would not stack them in front of me – it’s gross!
- At a small party wait until the host or guest of honor start eating before you do. If at a large banquet, if seated at a table, wait until the table is served before eating.
- Don’t reach across the table for the salt, pepper, sugar or cream. Ask that it be passed to you.
- Initiate passing of the salt and pepper, or when it is passed to you, use it and than pass it to the person next to you.
- Ok, now to the table setting, your glasses will be on your right side and your bread plate will be on your left. The salad fork is left of the entrée fork. The large spoon on your right is for a soup course. Don’t slurp this course! The dessert fork and coffee spoon are usually place at the top of the entrée plate. Usually, when there are a lot of utensils the rule of thumb is to work from the outside in.
- When eating American style you hold the fork in your right hand (if right handed) when bringing the food to the mouth. Do not lean toward the plate so you’re inches above it. The problem I see most often among men and women of my age and younger is when they are trying to cut something. It’s rather barbaric. Instead, put the fork in your left hand (if right handed) and the knife in your right, cut the food (one to three pieces at a time) place the knife horizontally at the top of the plate, and switch the fork (with the food on it) to your right hand and bring it to your mouth. Learn how to hold your knife correctly rather than looking as though you are stabbing your food.
- If you are allergic to a certain food just don’t eat it. If you are vegetarian, fill up before you go if you know that the main course is not and there are not any vegetarian options. This is particularly true for home parties. If the host asks just say that you were full on all the delicious food that was offered.
- When you have finished eating, place your fork, knife and other utensils used at the clock position of ten minutes to four ( If you are right handed), 20 minutes to 2 is a good position for left-handers.
As I deal with the stress of preparing for Christmas AND finishing up the quarter at the University, I find myself short-tempered. Where is the ho, ho, ho that the season brings? This time more than ever when everything is piling up its easy to resort to anger but for you and those around you – save yourself, your reputation and others around you by trying to remain civil.
Whether it’s in the political arena or on the playing field, or in interactions with others, being civil and polite is the key to keeping your A game. The Vancouver Sun (April 4, 2008, http://www.canada.com) identified 10 rules for being civil. Try these on for size and see if they don’t enhance your ability to be successful in everything you do.
- Pay Attention to what’s going on.
- Practice Compassion.
- Hold individual accountable for what they do.
- Be clear in stating your case.
- Be prepared to change.
- Avoid physical and emotional violence.
- Remain genuine.
- Treat others with the respect with which you’d like to be treated.