General etiquette is what sets you apart from others and makes you stand out. And even though etiquette is not taught in school or by anyone, learning proper etiquette is an important life skill. One of the most important types of etiquette is the dining etiquette.
At any age, regardless of your station in life or your salary, table manners are essential, especially for us women. After all, we eat several times per day, often in the company of others-business clients; colleagues, family and friends. Not only is knowing and exhibiting proper table etiquette important in your social life, but it is also essential for professional success!
Here are some fine-dining etiquette rules you probably didn’t know you were breaking
This is the very first rule of fine dining etiquette. R.S.V.P. is French and means “répondez s’il vous plaît,” or please respond. So when you receive an invitation requiring you to R.SV.P. a yes or no is expected. Never reply maybe. Make sure to inform your host or hostess within 24 hours of receiving your invitation
Be properly dressed
I always say it’s better to arrive overdressed than underdressed. Say for example you’re going out for dinner at a restaurant, it’s always safe to do some background checks on if the restaurant has a dress code and what mood to expect. And even though a friend has invited you over to their house, it’s courteous to dress up.
The Cell Phone Dilemma
When you arrive for dinner or lunch, make sure to switch your phone off or put it in silent and keep it away from the table. It’s rude to be on your phone texting or talking when at the table with other people.
When to sit
If you find that you have been invited for a lunch/dinner party with other people, always wait to told to sit by your host. Either the host will inform guests where to sit, or she will request they determine where to sit on their own. Proper dining etiquette prohibits you from just sitting down as you please.
Once seated, place the napkin on your lap and keep it there until you have completely finished eating unless you have to level the table.
If you need to wipe your mouth, wrap a section of the napkin around your index finger and dab away any stains. Do not wipe.
When you have to leave the table mid-meal, make sure to leave your napkin either on a chair or place it to the left of your plate.
Good dining etiquette requires you to keep your elbows at your sides and off of the table. And when seated, avoid slouching or leaning back in your chair, even if it’s late and you’re extremely tired.
Never lift your menu off the table
In a restaurant, especially high-end ones, your menu should always be touching the table in one place. So if you’re looking at the menu, make sure to have the bottom, or at least one part of it, still touching the table, even if your impulse is to bring it closer to your face.
Utensils and glassware
Be it in a restaurant or your host’s house, you may be confronted with multiple utensils on the table and worry about what to use. This is because using the right utensils for meals is considered good table manners.
In most instances, your meal may not require more than a single fork and knife. But if you’re unsure, wait to see what others do, particularly your host. A delay of two seconds won’t be noticed by others but should give you enough time to determine which utensil to use.
However, in normal settings, always eat from the outside in. A salad fork on the outermost left followed by your dinner fork etc.
Once you sip from a glass, you must sip from the exact same place on that glass for the rest of the evening. This will help to avoid that lip ring, whether it’s from natural oils or chapsticks or lipstick. Once you sip, you should put the glass back in the same place where you picked it up.
When holding your wine and champagne glasses the proper way to hold them is by the stem. If you do not drink, politely refuse the offer of alcohol, no further explanation is required.
In a home setting, if you empty your glass, wait for your host to refill your glass. Never ask for the bottle to refill your glass. Make sure you know your limits when it comes to alcohol because even if you have displayed the best table manners throughout the meal, being tipsy or even drunk will ruin everything.
How to eat properly
In a restaurant setting, resist the urge to order a dish that would be hard to eat with a knife and fork, you’ll only draw unwanted attention to yourself. Also, do not pick up anything with your fingers, except for bread.
Do not order the most expensive items on the menu unless you are specifically told that it is okay to do so. Likewise, do not order an alcoholic drink unless your host does first.
In a home setting, once the food is served, always take the cue to start eating from the host.
Should you require something from across the table, always ask someone to pass it to you, it is not good dining etiquette to reach across the table.
Cut one piece of food at a time and eat each piece before cutting another. Avoid cutting up food into small pieces on your plate all at once as if preparing to serve it to a toddler.
Always try your best to keep pace with the other people you are dining with. Social etiquette requires that you shouldn’t finish your meal long after or before your dining companion does.
After the meal
When finished, place the napkin gracefully on the table, and do not place it on top of your plate. Additionally, do not push your plate away from you. At a restaurant, the waiter will remove them. In someone’s home ask the hostess is she needs assistance with clearing the table.
When leaving the table, always be sure to push in your chair.