Be it a business lunch or a dinner date, you must know basic etiquette to make your dining experience a pleasant one, for others as well as yourself. Of course, you don’t want to look like a prehistoric barbarian with no table manners. Improving table manners can help a person get out of embarrassing and tricky situations.
Here are a few useful tips that can help you redefine the theory of table manners and help you behave in a civilized manner, next time you are dining with someone special.
1. Sit down gracefully
Act chivalrously and wisely. If the dinner has been set in a restaurant make sure you pull a chair for the lady and then bet seated. If you have been invited to a person’s place, make sure you follow their direction and sit only when they request you to.
· Let the host start it all – Wait for the host to start the show. Sit, eat, drink and place your napkin on the table along with your host.
· Make yourself comfortable but in the right posture – Don’t slump into the chair and stretch your legs too much that you hit the other person with your leg. Sit in an upright position and keep your arms close enough to your body. Do not lean on your elbows too much.
· Know your cutlery – The next step is to identify the fork, spoon, plates, glass and the napkin so that you don’t end up using your neighbor’s cutlery. The plate is right at the center. You have your spoons, knives and glass to your right and the forks, napkin and the bread plate on to your left.
· Spread the napkin on your lap – Use the napkin to dab your mouth and to remove stray pieces off your mouth gently. If you happen to drop food, use your napkin to avoid the spill splatter on another’s dress.
2. Use the cutlery
The cutlery serves the purpose of your hand. Use them to tear, cut and eat food with.
· Use cutlery instead of fingers – Don’t soil your fingers; after all that is what eating utensils are meant for!
· Use the cutlery appropriately – Use your fork to hold the piece while you cut a small chunk with the knife. Use the smaller forks for salads and spoon for your soup.
· Still confused? Then just follow the rest – Even if you don’t get it right keep things moving peacefully. Quickly glance at your companion and just follow their actions to pick the right cutlery.
· Keep the used utensil aside – Never put used spoons or fork on the table. It may leave stains on the tablecloth and spill the leftover food out of the plate. Make sure you place them on the plate after you finish eating.
3. Eat peacefully and follow etiquette
Table manners do not stop with knowing your spoons and forks. It also includes the basic etiquette you must follow while eating delicacies.
· Eat gracefully – Don’t just slurp or gulp your dinner. Keep pace with people sitting next to you and wait till they go for the next round. If your food is sizzling hot wait for it to cool down.
· Bite as much as you can chew – Don’t stuff a bigger piece of pizza or meat into your mouth, you will only end up choking. Instead make smaller chunks of the food and then chew them thoroughly before you grab the next piece.
· Request the other person to pass food items one by one – Avoid reaching for items that are at the other end of the table. Politely ask your neighbor or the person next to the food to pass it on to you. Fill your plate adequately and then place it next to your neighbor for him to serve his plate.
· Talk less while eating – Either avoid talking or limit your conversation especially when your mouth is full. You would rather stay mum than spray food particles on others plate.
· Excuse yourself immediately after an embarrassing moment – It is natural to burp, sneeze, cough, etc at times. Controlling these natural acts can prove fatal; so don’t even think of controlling them. Just make sure you don’t cough too hard or burp too loud. Be polite and just say, “Excuse me” for you have done no crime but are sorry for the act. Don’t fuss if you happen to spill something and allow the waiter to help you clean the place.
· Try not to over eat – People tend to overindulge with food and alcohol during a dinner party. Eat only as much as your stomach requires and limit your drinking in public.
4. All’s well that ends well
The final step of table manners – it is very important to finish the dinner gracefully just the way it was started.
· Place the utensils on your plate – Put the fork and spoon on your plate in a parallel position such that it looks like the Roman letter II. Crossing or placing the fork and spoon in an ‘X’ position means that you are taking a short break and will continue with the meal soon.
· Be polite with everyone – If your food tastes unpleasant don’t shout at the waiter. Don’t fuss about it at all. Just ask them to serve you a different dish and leave a suggestion later.
· Thank the host – And yes, don’t forget to thank your host for having invited you to a fine meal. This can act as a closure sign and also make the host feel happy about the dinner.
Lastly, get dressed for the occasion in a neat and well-ironed outfit that you comfortably fit in. Smoking or chewing gum will never give a good impression; so kindly avoid these. So the next time you are invited to dine, make sure you brush up all your table manners and make the dinner a perfect one.