Have you ever dined with someone who talked with their mouth full of food? Or watched on as your companion sloppily played with their food, making a mess of both the table and themselves? It’s uncomfortable and unappealing, right?
Table manners play an important part in making a favorable impression, yet it seems to have fallen by the wayside in this era of fast food and more casual dining standards. But don’t let your own table behavior fall by the wayside, as proper social and dining etiquette is a talent that can positively affect your future and your reputation.
Here’s why: More and more employers interview candidates over lunch or dinner. One of the reasons for this is so that an employer can evaluate the candidates’ social skills first-hand and see if they can handle themselves gracefully under pressure. In other words, good manners may give you the edge over another candidate.
Do you feel comfortable with the way you eat? Do you eat American or Continental style? Which is your bread dish? How do you pass food to your dinner mates? How about salt and pepper? Did you know that the salt and the pepper shakers are married? When someone asks you to pass the salt, make sure you pass both the salt and the pepper.
Have you ever had a server take your plate away before you are finished? It’s probably because you have not mastered the silent service code! Your fork and knife will let your server know whether you are done with your meal or not. How? When you are finished, place your fork and knife at the “four o’clock” position to indicate that the server may take the plate away.
What should you do if you drop your napkin on the floor? Kick it under the table and politely ask the server for another one.
Peggy’s Top Five Tips for Must-Impress Dining – perfect for interviews, dates and all-around important meals.
· When you have a table full of utensils, always start at the outside and work your way in. The salad fork is on the far left, the entrée fork will be next to it. Your dessert spoon and fork are above your plate.
· Don’t order messy food. Stay away from food with sauces, big sandwiches, and finger foods (like ribs). If you must order a burger or sandwich, have it cut in half so it is more manageable.
· Remember the acronym “BMW.” Your bread dish is always on your left, your meal is in the middle, and your water glass is on the right. This will avoid the embarrassment of taking someone else’s bread!
· If you need to leave the table, put your napkin on the seat or the arm of your chair.
· If you order soup, spoon it away from you.
Once you feel comfortable with the way you eat, you’ll have one less thing to worry about and can let your professionalism shine! Happy interviewing!