Top 10 Mistakes in Dining Etiquette

It's been a while since we've talked dining etiquette, and this is definitely a subject that needs refining from time to time.  More and more I go to business luncheons and dinners and I am usually in awe of the lack of skills at the dinner table.

I'm not stating this to sound judgmental but to encourage all of  us to pay attention to our table manners, because others really do notice, and it sends a message of how much we value the dining experience of those around us.

Here are a few things to remember:

1.  Your napkin should remain on your lap until everyone is exiting the table.  If you must exit first or during the meal for any reason place your napkin on your chair, and then upon return, back on your lap.

2.  It's not polite to heap your plate full of food.  You should never have food stacked on top of each other.  You also don't want to fill your plate so full that you can't see the rim of the plate.  Think conservative, especially if you're at a business or professional luncheon or dinner.

3.  Never place your fingers in your mouth for any reason -- not to clean your fingers, not to remove food from your teeth, and not to get the last taste of sauce from your hands.

4.  It's polite to only cut one to two bites of food at a time, placing your utensils down in between every one to two bites.

5.  Never push your plate away after you're finished eating to signal that you're finished.  Simply place your utensils side by side at five o'clock with the handles of the utensils slightly off the plate.

6.  Never stack plates in order to help clean up the mess when at a restaurant or formal dinner.  Only do this when you're at home or when you have been asked to do so by the host.

7.  Never reach across anyone to get something at the table.  A simple "please pass the ..." is all you need to do.

8.  Do your best to keep conversation at the dinner table light, refraining from speaking of too serious of topics or topics that aren't appropriate, such as gross things vulgar things, sad things or political or religious debates.

9.  Always find ways to sincerely compliment the cook or host.

10.  Never announce any dislikes while at the table.  Simply say "no thank you" if you would not care for something.  Hopefully your host knows her manners and will never ask "why not?"

These are just a few common mistakes we tend to make while dining with others.  Having proper table manners is a great indication of our education level, our ability to show self control, and our sincere interest in the dining experience of those we're dining with.

Happy dining!


It's Not Our Job to Correct Others

Believe it or not, it's not our job to correct others.  Really!

For some reason, many of us believe that we have an obligation to set the record straight or correct others when we believe they are mistaken with their information, opinion or overall approach to things.

How many times have we all been guilty of saying something like, "That's not how you do it,"  Why are you doing it that way" or Well, that's not true," etc.?

The truth is, it's really rude when we correct others unless we are their actual parents.

Let me make a few clarifications.  Standing up for what we believe is right or stopping a wrong from being committed towards another human being is, of course, expected of us all.  This is very different than going around to our family and friends being the "accuracy police" on everything they do, say and believe.

I recently spent time with a few friends, and after some time went by and a few disagreements occurred, I realized that what was causing contention was the need for a couple of friends to point out every time they disagreed with what was being said.  There is a time and place for making our opinions known, but during friendly, casual conversation is not one of those times.

Pointing out other's faults is the quickest way to becoming
 the person everyone wants to avoid.

It's also not polite to point out everything your spouse does that you don't like or disagree with.  This wears a marriage down and contributes to resentment and bitterness.  Yes, there are occasions where it is necessary to express disappointment in certain behavior, but these times should be the exception not the norm.

What if, instead of pointing out all the things that those around you did wrong, you recognized them for the things they did right?  (Of course this is only your opinion.)

Usually most people respond better to compliments
rather than complaints and negative comments.

If you really want to arrive to be gentlemen and ladies, then it is important to avoid being someone that others try to avoid.  Pointing out others' faults is the quickest way to becoming the person everyone wants to avoid.  Instead, compliment and praise.  If you feel you really can't do this, then choose to not say anything at all.  

Choosing to speak should be carefully evaluated with
thought going into what our purpose is, what you think the
outcome will be if you speak, and if it's worth it.

May we all strive to have relationships that bring great joy to us and others.