Did your grandmother always get on you about your table manners? Mine certainly did. But she was right to be concerned. Table manners are a way we are judged in public so it is important to know them in a business setting. You certainly would rather be remembered for your intelligence and humor rather than poor table manners. So here are a few pointers (consider this a reminder from grandma!)
1) Elbow placement - Elbows on table are ok if not eating. But don't use your elbow as a fulcrum for bringing food to your mouth. Wrists on the table are always ok.
2) Using the right fork for each course - Work from the outside in - salad to dessert fork. So that means the outer most fork is the one you use for the first course (unless your first course is a soup).
3) Using the right bread plate - Don't you hate it when you sit at a round table and you look at all the glasses and plates and never really know which one is yours? Use this reminder "BMW". Bread plate is on your left, Meal plate is in the middle, Water glass is on the right.
4) Digging in - Wait until everyone is served or the host gives the green light before you dig in. If its a large buffet style serving, you can eat when you get your food. If it is a preset event, wait until the hosts gives the cue.
5) Passing food - First time around the tabel pass the food counterclockwise so the right hand is free for serving. Always pass both salt and pepper together even if asked for only one.
6) Reaching - If you can get the item near without a full arm extension, do it. Otherwise ask to have it passed from the person nearest the item.
7) Leaving the table - ask to excuse yourself (sans details - like I need to go to the bathroom - no one needs to know that). Leave your napkin to the left of your plate, not on your seat.
It is important to remember that these rules apply to U.S. dining. If you would like more info on dining etiquette outside of the U.S. I really like this book.
Want more info on table manners? These are just a few books to consider if you may like to delve more deeply into some finer dining points. This is my go to book for adults and this book for kids. And below you will find some of my favorite table items - just scroll through and click on a picture to be taken directly to these products.
Would love to hear your best dining tips or any questions in the comments! Here's to well mannered dining!
M.E.L. is an attorney and small business entrepreneur whose mission is to help professionals conquer the workaday world with style and poise.
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