It’s never too late to either learn or improve on your manners. From the proper way to sit at the table to which direction to scoop with your spoon, etiquette is an ongoing skill. It should be a part of life that becomes natural to us. After all, a little courtesy and a smile can go along way in life.
Thanks for Saying Thanks
Words are a powerful thing, whether spoken or written. Saying thank you is no exception. A host puts in their time and effort to be as accommodating as possible, so why not show a little written appreciation. Jodi RR Smith of Mannersmith Etiquette Counseling says “a verbal thank you is not enough. You also need to send a note.” In your note, try to stay away from over using “I”. Instead, focus on your host and the work they’ve done.
Timing is Key
Knowing when to say the right words or even what the right words are can be difficult. Try hand-written sympathy cards to extend your condolences and avoid the use of “I” as well. When dealing with the loss of my grandmother, I never quite knew how to respond to “I just don’t know how your handling all this” or “I’m so sorry, I wish there was something I could do”. Also, hold off on the “remember when” funny stories, or the “it’ll get better” sayings until some time has passed. Allow your loved one the appropriate amount of time before sharing these tales.
R.S.V.P. Does Not Mean at Your Own Leisure
Okay well we’ve all been guilty of forgetting to respond until the last minute, but we can do better right? Always aim to leave a little early and pick something up. A nice bottle of wine, or even flowers shows that you put a little planning into your arrival. Your host will also be very appreciative of the gesture.
Keeping it Classy at the Table
I’ve been to countless restaurants or dinner parties and at some point, feel completely lost. Where should I sit again, what about my bag, is it okay for me to give a toast? With all these questions running through my mind it made dinner far less enjoyable. Here’s a guide to save the day or evening:
- If you’re hosting, always offer guest(s) the best seat which is usually facing the door giving a view of the front rather than the back of the building.
- Use great posture and keep your personal belongings off the table.
- Conversation should be pleasant and noncontroversial.
- Place your cutlery on the bread/appetizer plate and your napkin should remain in your lap until finished with your meal. If you excuse yourself, place your napkin on your chair.
- Do not eat until everyone has been served and the host gives the okay. Avoid salt and pepper until you’ve tasted the food. If you don’t like an item simply move it around on your plate so as not to offend.
- Remember the host should always toast first, and do not toast yourself!
- If it’s a date the rule of thumb is the person who invites, is the person who pays.
- Tipping should be 20% at a restaurant, 22% at a fine dining restaurant and a minimum of 10% for bad service at either. For valet $2-5 for each encounter even if it’s free.
- Holding the door is for guys and gals, be polite for the person coming in after you.
- Avoid asking someone out via text, a phone conversation is best and remember to understand social cues and be respectful of people’s responses.
Etiquette is something we all think we know, practice and our mothers taught us well. However we all could use a refresher every now and then. Or at the very least, perfect our current skills. I hope these tips have provided some help or insight for your next social outing and experiences.