Table Manners 101: A Basic Dining Etiquette Guide
Manners maketh man, as what the old saying goes. Even if standards for restaurant etiquette have softened recently, proper dining behavior is still highly encouraged to leave a good impression. Being polite and having a basic understanding of the culture will go a long way toward putting you at ease when eating outside.
Eating at a restaurant is different when eating at home. At home, we can casually put our knees on the chair, blow on the food if it’s hot, or even eat noisily. However, when we eat, we should observe table manners; some are common sense, yet some need to be familiarized and practiced.
In this article, you will learn more about basic dining etiquette rules one must follow that will help you socially and professionally. But if you are interested in taking it to another level and truly master the broad aspect of dining etiquette, specifically if you are a student, there are restaurants that support college education that can assist you with your expertise and let you observe and experience firsthand competencies.
Here are the fundamental dining manners that one must adhere to:
1. Be punctual and call ahead if you think you will not arrive on time.
Arrive 10 to 15 minutes before the call time! Being on time demonstrates professionalism and makes you stand out. Eventually, it will unleash your dependability and reliability, which will boost your value and help you develop in your profession.
2. Follow the dress code and bring the host/hostess a gift.
Follow the event’s dress code, if there is one, as it conveys your respect to the host. It is also appropriate to offer the host or hostess a gift that expresses your appreciation but that he/she is not required to use at that very moment.
3. Do not put your valuables on the table.
Some people still don’t observe this. Keep your things off the table so that no one will think that, say, while you are texting someone, your phone is more important than the person you are with. However, you can excuse yourself before pulling out your phone if it is urgent.
4. Observe proper posture.
Don’t slouch while sitting; keep your elbows off the table. Keeping your posture upright communicates that you value and are interested in the conversation. Additionally, it exudes confidence and respect for the listener.
5. A napkin should be on the lap throughout the entire meal.
Place the napkin on your lap shortly after you take a seat at the table. But typically follow the host’s lead; the same goes when the meal is about to start. If the host puts their napkin on the table, it means the meal is over. As a guest, you should then place yours afterward.
6. Start at the outside and work your way in.
Always keep in mind to start from the outside and work your way inside if you are presented with a variety of utensils but are unfamiliar with their specific uses. For instance, if there are two forks, start using the fork that is furthest from the plate.
7. Do not talk when your mouth is full!
This is a very famous rule. When you have food in your mouth, refrain from speaking. It’s impolite and distasteful to watch. Chew with your mouth closed, and you shouldn’t speak until you’ve finished swallowing the food in your mouth. Also, avoid making loud eating noises like slurping and burping, which is the number one etiquette offense at the dinner table.
8. Passing food and condiments.
Food should be passed to the right. If you are the one passing the bread basket, give some to the person to your left, then take some for yourself, and finally pass it to the person to your right. To get food or condiments, don’t reach across the table and cross over other diners. If a fellow diner requests the salt or pepper, pass them both, even if he/she only asks for one. In addition, don’t ever try to intercept a pass because it is a big no-no.
9. Do not blow your food when hot.
To cool your meal, avoid blowing on it. Take the clue and wait till it cools, or you can gently stir your soup if anything is too hot to eat. Additionally, always scoop food away from you.
10. When you are done eating…
Do not stack or move your plates once you are done; instead, leave them where they are. Typically, the person who orders the meal pays for it and leaves a reasonable tip. “Please” and “thank you” should still be said, as well as maintaining eye contact. However, if you do not like any of the food, just remain silent.