Must-follow Dining Table Etiquette for a Lasting Impression
People notice everything- your actions, character, body language, gestures and even dining table etiquette. Whether consciously or subconsciously, these form the basis of their observations and inferences about you as an individual. In personal settings, with friends and family, the way you carry yourself probably doesn’t matter much. But in formal settings, with colleagues and subordinates, it is extremely important. Along with your work performance, your mannerisms and etiquette establish your credibility and professional reputation. Client meetings, formal parties and business discussions often happen over lunch or dinner and it’s imperative to follow the right etiquette on these occasions.
“A man’s manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
In this article, we look at basic table etiquette and proper table manners that’ll substantially boost your image.
Dining Table Etiquette:
1. Fork and Knife positions on the plate
For right-handed people, the way of using knife and fork is to use the fork with the left hand and cut with the knife in the right hand. Further, the positions of knife and fork in your plate also communicate certain messages. The image on the left shows these positions and what they signal. While you may encounter a lot of waiters who don’t understand these signals, your dinner host may. It’s better to be safe and know them!
2. Burping and slurping are impolite
A lot of us have the habit of slurping (the sucking noise while drinking or eating). In a formal setting, it’s considered bad manners and is impolite. Similarly, burping, while a perfectly normal biological function, is a turn-off for people around you. It’s probably cute when kids do it but if you really have to burp, try to keep the noise down to a minimum!
3. Chew with your mouth closed
At some point, we have all been with that colleague who chews with their mouth open and makes annoying noises. Chew with your mouth closed and take smaller bites, so that you don’t look like a hungry squirrel with a stuffed mouth. Also, an important point to keep in mind is to never, never talk with food in your mouth. Not only does it look ugly but you may also run the danger of shooting your spit on someone around you! This particular behavior probably tops the list of most common & condemned bad dining etiquette.
4. Keep your phone off the table
This is a common occurrence these days and is an extremely bad habit to have. With our dependency on mobile phones growing by the day, we tend to constantly keep checking our phones and casually leave it on the table. However, while you remain connected virtually, it shows your disconnect with the people around you. In formal settings especially, it communicates your lack of interest in the people you are with and is considered extremely rude.
5. Don’t blow on your food
This is another common tendency we have. When the food is hot, we try to cool it by blowing air on it. While scientifically it’s not such a bad idea, when you are with other people, it looks quite ugly and is an annoyance for them. Instead, just wait for the food to cool down and then have it. After all, a little patience never killed anybody!
6. Use your table napkin wisely
The table napkin or serviette is provided for a reason. It is used to wipe your fingers and dab your lips while eating. Place it on your lap before the food is served. If you need to get up for a serving at the buffet or to use the washroom, place it on your seat and not on the table. Using a napkin can also protect you from stains on your clothes in case food spills while eating.
7. The bread and butter plate
The smaller plate next to your plate is provided to separate breads from sauces, gravy and other food items on your plate. Although many of us use it to host our food wastes such as bone pieces and spices, it’s a habit that must be avoided.
8. Break bread with your hands
A lot of us tend to believe that we are not expected to use our hands at all while eating at formal occasions and that we should use our knife and fork for all food items. That’s not true. Use your hands and not your knife to break your breads and rolls. There’s a reason it’s called “breaking bread”!
9. Don’t stretch across the table
Some of us have the habit of stretching across the table to reach for a food item that we want. While that’s probably alright with family and friends, don’t do it in a formal setting. Instead, ask the person sitting closest to that item to pass it to you.
10. Don’t shout to summon the waiter
Showing good manners at the meal probably starts with how you deal with the wait staff. When you want to summon the waiter, raise your hand or make eye contact but don’t wave or shout. Be patient as the restaurant may be packed and the waiter might have many tables to help besides yours. Also, be polite and talk to the waiter with respect without using a bossy or condescending tone.