I have never taken an etiquette class. My school always offered them, but as much as I wanted to, I never went to a class. I encourage college students to attend one at least once. Believe it or not you will need to know how to eat properly at the table, that is, if you expect to work in corporate America. I didn’t think I would until I attended the 2011 PRAM conference. It was the first formal dinner I had ever been to. When I sat down this is what I saw:
*Scooby Doo gasp*
I didn’t show my perplexity on my face. I did what my mother always taught be: Be aware of your surroundings. I looked at what the professionals did before I did anything. Luckily, I came out of it without a scratch and with a lesson to spread to all. Here are five tips that will help you.
- DO place your napkin in your lap as soon as everyone else at the table is seated. When you wipe your mouth, wipe delicately. At the aforementioned conference dinner I attended, a student, who shall remain nameless, did not put her napkin in her lap when everyone was seated. I did so because the professionals that were seated with me did so. Next thing you know, a waiter comes by and puts it in her lap for her. Try to avoid this embarrassing moment so others won’t mentally shake their head at you.
- DON’T start eating until everyone else has been served.
- DO pass items such as butter, bread baskets, salad dressing, etc. to your right. When passing something with a handle, pass it with the handle facing the person as you would if you were handing someone a pair of scissors.
- DON’T allow your utensils to touch the table after they have been used. You will make a nasty mess around you and you don’t want to look like a messy eater.
- Finally, DO thank the food servers. I have worked in a restaurant before and there is nothing worse than serving ungrateful people. Be the person that gives them a reason to like their job.