Tag Archives: dining etiquette

Check Your Holiday Table Manners

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The holidays have arrived. There is no doubt about it. Signs of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza are everywhere.  In navigating the season, it’s hard to know what to focus on first. Is it planning for the office party, selecting gifts for clients and colleagues, decorating your workplace or sending those holiday cards?

Given that the holidays are all about parties, luncheons and dinners, I suggest as a next step brushing up on your table manners. Nowhere are manners more important than over meals. Table manners prevent us from being sloppy, offensive and boorish. They are part of communicating respect for others. They are not always hard and fast rules; rather they are guidelines to help us in our social and business relationships.

Here are a few reminders of what to do and not do at the holiday dinner and to help you brush up on your table manners:

Do reply to the invitation as soon as you receive it. A quick check of your calendar tells you if you are free or not. It’s not acceptable to wait around to see if a better invitation comes along.

Do what you say you will do. If you accept the invitation, show up. If you decline, you may not attend at the last minute. It’s that simple.

Do let your host know in advance of any food issues. If for cultural or health reasons you have limitations, your host should know ahead of time. However, don’t make this an issue for the person who was kind enough to invite you. He or she need not be responsible for preparing a special meal for you.

Do sit where you find your place card. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t particularly fond of where you are seated. Sit where you are told. Your host had reasons for the seating arrangement.

Do keep all personal belongings off the table. Your purse, even if it is small, does not belong on the table. Other items to keep out of sight are your keys and your cell phone. If you can’t bear to be absent from your phone during the meal, maybe you should have stayed at home.

Do remain seated during the meal. It is rude to act like a jack-in-the-box. If you must excuse yourself, do so between courses. Exceptions are coughing or sneezing fits. By all means, go before you ruin everyone’s meal.

Do wait to begin eating until everyone has been served, and your host has begun to eat. You don’t actually have to wait until the host has started to chew. Just keep in mind that this is not a race to the finish and there are no prizes for first place.

Do pace your eating so that you finish with everyone else. The slow eater is as annoying as the one racing to the finish.

Do make sure that you understand the basics of the place setting. It’s not as difficult as it seems. The basic rule is: Utensils are placed in the order of use; that is, from the outside in. A second rule, with only a few exceptions, is: Forks go to the left of the plate, and knives and spoons go to the right. The exception is: The dessert fork and spoon are placed at the top of the place setting.

As always, good manners are most noticed by their absence.

Lydia Ramsey is a Savannah-based business etiquette expert, keynote speaker, trainer and author. Contact her at 912-604-0080 or visit her website: LydiaRamsey.com. Find out how her presentations and workshops can help you and your employees add the polish that builds profits. Kindness and courtesy can have an impact on your bottom line.

If you want more tips on table manners, order your copy of my Little Book of Table Manners – 85 Tips for Dining for Success.

 

 

 

 

Should You Talk Politics at the Holiday Dinner?

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Thanksgiving Table MannersIt goes without saying that this has been a difficult year with a contentious presidential primary. You probably thought that peace would be restored once the election process was final. Wrong. In many ways, it has only gotten worse.  Do you dare talk politics during this holiday season?

Before the election, there were those who were willing to talk about the candidates’ behaviors and their verbal attacks on each other, but reluctant to disclose how they planned to vote. As soon as the polls opened, people came out of the woodwork to declare their position and candidate of choice.

You follow the news. You know what has happened since. A lot of it is ugly. As the holidays approach and friends and family gather for the traditional festivities—particularly the holiday dinner–do you dare talk about the election?

No one is naïve enough to believe that family gatherings always go smoothly and joyfully. Every family has one or more members who can stir the pot—not necessarily the one on the kitchen stove. How do you handle that person, or persons, this year who wants to talk politics, the ever-forbidden conversation topic?

Is it wrong to bring up the subject or talk about the obvious “elephant in the room”? Maybe not. How you do it is the tricky part.

  • Do you try to force your opinion on everyone else?
  • Do you put down those who don’t agree with you?
  • Do you become argumentative?
  • Do you toss your napkin on the table and stomp out in anger?
  • Do you force people to take sides and polarize the family?

I hope not.

The political situation cannot be ignored. It’s like living on the coast of Georgia, as I do, and not talking about Hurricane Mathew that ravaged my community. The 2016 election is too much a part of our lives to disregard. It should be discussed and acknowledged, but in a way that values all opinions.

  • To use a cliché, you should agree to disagree.
  • Keep your mind open to the views of others.
  • Listen without being offended.
  • Don’t interrupt.
  • Question without challenging.
  • Beware your body language.
  • Give yourself permission not to join in the conversation.

I am not so naïve as to think that everyone will play by these rules. Some of these family gatherings will end in disaster. Just make sure that you are not the one who caused the 2016 holiday event the one to remember for all the wrong reasons.

Approach those whose opinions you do not share with kindness, courtesy, respect and a heavy dose of tolerance.

13-0811 Lydia Ramsey eBook CoverFor more information on how to handle this and other holiday issues, order a copy of my ebook, Business Etiquette for the Holidays.

 

lydia_sm-e1393277822156Lydia Ramsey is business etiquette and modern manners expert, keynote speaker, seminar leader and author of Manners That Sell-Adding the Polish That Builds Profits. Based in Savannah, Georgia, she travels across the US and as far away as India and Dubai to work with clients that include universities, corporations, small businesses, associations and non-profit organizations. Her topics range from flip-flops to forks. Visit her website www.lydiaramsey.com for more information about her services and resources.

Eating Spaghetti – To Twirl or Not To Twirl

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iStock_000013117576_MediumTo twirl or not to twirl is the question when eating spaghetti. The question is always the same, but the answers are all over the map. After much research, it appears that the response depends on whom you ask.

The obvious source to go to would seem to be an Italian. However, Italians can’t agree on what process to follow when eating spaghetti.  Some say that it depends on whether you are from Northern Italy or Southern Italy. Truth be told, most Italians are of the same mind: you never use a spoon for eating spaghetti, and it has nothing to do with the geography of Italy. The general consensus is that the use of a fork plus a spoon for eating pasta is for children, amateurs and people with bad table manners in general.

Here is a collection of thoughts about how you should tackle those pesky long strands of pasta:

  • You never twirl spaghetti against a spoon unless one has been given to you for that purpose. If no spoon is provided, don’t ask for one.
  • If you choose to twirl, take a small amount of spaghetti and twirl it clockwise with your fork against the side of your plate or bowl, being careful not to leave any dangling pieces of pasta.
  • If you choose to cut your pasta, use the side of your fork, not a knife and fork. It is a huge no-no to cut all your pasta with knife and fork before settling down to eat.
  • At a business meal, unless you are a master twirler, use the cutting with a fork approach.
  • With family and friends, it’s up to you. However, when eating spaghetti, slurping should be your last choice, no matter where, when or with whom.

How to approach eating spaghetti may never be resolved, but if you are looking for a great resource on table manners, my Little Book of Table Manners is available.

Photo from Savannah magazine

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com

Etiquette Tips for Valentine’s Day

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box of chocolate truffles with red rosesValentine’s Day? Really? Yes, really. Just when you thought you were through with the holidays, the celebration of romance is staring you in the face. For some people, that’s no big deal; for others, it’s huge. Of course, that all depends on where you are in a relationship. If there is someone special in your life, spouse, significant other or if you are in the budding stages, here are six quick etiquette tips for Valentine’s Day to insure that your day or evening will be a success.

  1. Make a dinner reservation now, right now. As I write this, there are 12 days left until Valentine’s Day. If you wait until the last minute to make a dinner reservation, guess what? You won’t be eating at yours or anyone else’s favorite restaurant because there won’t be any tables left. You’ll be eating out at McDonald’s, Chick-Fil-A or Pizza Hut.
  2. Buy a Valentine card today. The shelves are already picked over. In a few days the card with that perfect message will be gone. In that case, you may have to resort to making your own Valentine like you did in grammar school. I don’t know about you, but mine never turned out that well.
  3. Order those flowers without delay. You want to be sure that roses or whatever floral arrangement you want will be waiting for you to pick up or be delivered on the 14th. Florists plan their orders in advance. So should you.
  4. Want candy? Guess what? You got it—buy it now before only the dregs are left.
  5. A word about dinner: If you’ve been following me or reading my blogs, you know that I hold table manners in high regard. Brush up on yours before you head out. This is an evening when you want to impress. You can’t do it if you talk with food in your mouth, slurp your drink, blow on your soup, attack your bread with a steak knife or put your elbows on the table.
  6. And finally, keep that cell phone out of sight and in the totally “off” mode. Texting or talking during this special occasion is a guaranteed way to spoil the evening and the relationship.

If you need a quick course in dining etiquette, you can order a copy of my Little Book of Table Manners; but do it now before they are all gone.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Photo from Savannah magazine

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Thanksgiving Etiquette: No Texting at the Table

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As usual this week families and friends will be gathered around the table at Thanksgiving to share good food and conversation.  However, something else is liable to occur that is different from your traditional holiday gatherings and flies in the face of Thanksgiving etiquette. One or more of those present may be there in body only because they will have their head down and their thumbs in motion while they text.  How rude is that? But sadly, how commonplace in today’s world. It defies all the rules of etiquette and protocol.

I witnessed this behavior personally last year while dining with friends. One of the family members was there in body only.  He spent the entire meal staring at his phone. As others lingered in conversation, he finally removed himself and found a chair away from the table and continued to be entranced by his mobile device.  It was hard to tell which was the real turkey at the table that day.

May I suggest that if you plan to join others for a meal on Thanksgiving Day that you be fully engaged and fully present. Brush up on your Thanksgiving etiquette. Unless your invitation reads, “John Smith and Phone,” leave your device somewhere out of sight.  What can possibly be more important than  interacting with your family and friends? So Aunt Marha’s stories maybe getting a little old and Uncle Bob may be nodding off, but they are not to be ignored.

If you are so attached to your smart phone that you can’t take your eyes off of it, stay home.  It is insult to those who came to spend time with you and others to text at the table. If you go, take your best manners and Thanksgiving etiquette in lieu of your cellular device.

Honor your family and friends by listening to them and appreciating them if only for a few hours. You may not have the chance again.

Before closing may I remind you that I just published a new eBook for the holidays?  If you have any doubt about the do’s and do nots’ of holiday etiquette, the book, Business Etiquette For The Holidays, is available on my website and in the Kindle Store on Amazon. It is a small investment which will keep you from committing a holiday faux pas.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Five Foods to Avoid at a Business Meal

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Do you find yourself doing a lot of business over meals? If so, you are not alone. The business breakfast, lunch or dinner is a common occurrence today. The purpose of the business meal can vary from interviewing for a job to sealing the deal with a client. Often the reason for the occasion is simply to build a relationship with current or potential clients. Business dining is not to be taken lightly.

The way you conduct yourself at the table can determine whether you land that job, get the promotion or close the sale. I know a highly successful consultant who refuses to do business with anyone who lacks proper table manners. In my business etiquette courses I provide training in every aspect of the meal from which fork to use, where to place the napkin and how to butter the bread. If you want to be successful, learn the rules. For now let’s start with what you should NOT eat while dining out for business.

Stay away from any unknown foods. That’s anything you have never eaten before. One example is the whole artichoke. If you haven’t had one previously, don’t try it now. If your host insists on ordering the artichoke for you, do yourself a favor by admitting that you have never been presented with a whole artichoke and ask how to approach it. Don’t try to wing it.

Avoid shellfish. Clams, mussels, lobster and shrimp with the tails on are challenging at best. All are difficult to manage. Not only is lobster messy and has to be eaten while wearing a bib (how professional looking is that?) and using special equipment, but it is also generally the most expensive item on the menu.

Fresh spinach is not a good choice. That means no spinach salad. While salad would seem a safe bet, spinach tends to stick to your teeth like a fine coat of varnish. You don’t want to spend the entire meal running your tongue over your teeth trying to remove the coating. If you want spinach, order it cooked as a side dish. Other salad greens can be equally hazardous.

You love spaghetti, but enjoy it with family or friends. It is always challenging to get it into your mouth without at least one strand hanging out. Just as you are trying to suck it in, everyone at the table will turn to look at you. At the business meal your fork is for cutting those long strands of pasta, not for twirling. To stay on the safe side, order bow-tie. farfalle, rigatoni or the other short forms of pasta. Leave the linguine, angel hair and fettuccine for another time. Most of the noodle dishes are covered in sauces that could end up on your clothing. Best not to wear the marinara out of the restaurant. It could be a constant reminder of the promotion you didn’t get.

Steer clear of foods that you have to eat with your fingers. Don’t order the ribs, wings or fried chicken unless your host insists on taking you to the best barbecue place in town. Those items are all messy and practically require that you wear a raincoat while eating them. The only thing you should be eating with your fingers is the bread, and that by the way, is eaten, one small piece at a time.

No article or training course on the etiquette of dining would be complete without a warning about consumption of alcohol. Stick to one glass of wine., two at the most. No matter how hard your host tries to convince you to have another glass or how many drinks your guest is having, resist temptation. Alcohol is like truth serum and causes people to say things that in many cases should be kept to themselves. When the meal is over, you want to know that you finished on good terms with your boss or the client. Getting drunk at lunch or dinner will ruin any chance of that happening.

This is only the tip of the iceberg (and I am not speaking of the lettuce) when it comes to business dining. There are 85 tips listed in my book on dining for success. That is just for starters. I have additional resources available on my website and I am always available to present a course on dining for success to you individually or to your organization.

What foods would you recommend avoiding at the business meal?

Bon Appetit!

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

College Students Eat Up Dining Etiquette

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One of the favorite aspects of my etiquette training business is presenting “Dining for Success” to college and university students. Since founding Manners That Sell nearly 15 years ago, I have worked with numerous colleges and universities teaching dining etiquette. This is a subject that used to be taught at the family dinner table.  However, we all know that families do not dine together as they once did. With both parents working,  single parent homes and schedules that are out of control, there is little oppportunity  for the traditional family meal. It is a real challenge to teach table manners when kids are eating out of a brown paper bag from a fast food restaurant in the back seat of the car.

Most of  the young people I work with are  in their junior or senior year of college. They are finishing up their courses and are ready to join the workplace.  The one class they didn’t get is business etiquette training. Now they are faced with job interviews, many of which are conducted over meals, and they don’t have a clue which fork to use, how to eat the soup or even something as simple as what to do with their napkin.  Here’s where I come in.

The dining courses I offer involve a four-course meal that I guide the students through step by step. I am always heartened by the level of involvement and interaction from the participants.  They never run out of questions to ask.  They are  hungry for the information in my sessions.

When the last bite of dessert has been eaten and final drop of coffee drunk, they are in no hurry to leave.  The questions keep coming. We even talk about some aspects of  the job interview. We discuss how to dress, how to present themselves, when to arrive and how to follow up.  The Career Services Departments of the colleges and universities I work with do an excellent job of helping students prepare their resumes and field those tough interview questions, but they turn to me to teach the  interpersonal skills which will set their graduates apart from the competition.

One of my long-term clients is Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia. I have worked with them since I first became an etiquette trainer.  At the most recent session I presented to them, I was amazed at how many students came up to thank me for the presentation, to tell me how much they had learned and just how many of them said, “This is not my first time to attend ‘Dining for Success.’  I come every year and learn something new each time.”  Several of them followed me into the parking lot to ask more questions and to thank me again.

The next day I received the following message from the director of the program in GSU’s Career Services Department. She said, “Thank you so much for coming to speak to our group again this year. We had great reviews from students and employers. On their evaluations, the students said they truly loved having you walk them through the meal!”

Now who couldn’t love a job like that?

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

It’s A Business Meal, Not the Darlington 500

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When dining out on business, your table manners can make the difference between success and failure. Whether you are working on your next promotion or landing a new contract, knowing the etiquette of dining can affect your future. By paying attention to the details of eating and drinking, you send a message that you are savvy in other respects.

Chewing is an activity that should take place with your mouth closed. Whenever there is food in your mouth, it should not be in the open position. This also means not talking with food in your mouth. Since the main purpose of the business meal is to exchange information verbally, you can expect to do more talking than eating. To avoid getting stuck with a mouthful of food just as your boss asks you about your long-range plans, limit the amount that goes in.

Don’t be wishy-washy about ordering. If you hem and haw or take all day to decide what you want, your client may wonder how decisive you are in other matters. When you are the guest and you aren’t sure what to order, ask your host for recommendations. This can help you with your decision.

Pace yourself during the meal. You don’t want to finish well ahead of or way behind the other people. You won’t get a prize for coming in first, and others will feel uncomfortable. If everyone else finished eating while you were making your pitch, you just may have to decide that you weren’t terribly hungry after all.

Cell phones should not be part of a business meal. If you don’t want to turn off your colleagues and clients, turn off your phone or leave it behind.

If you are a businesswoman, blot your lipstick before you go to the table. Lipstick smears on a glass are unprofessional and unappetizing.

Remember that good manners are noticed most by their absence so know your business etiquette.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Feasting Faux Pas

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Holiday FeastThe event that led me to write about the holiday meal was a Thanksgiving dinner that I attended with friends. I observed behavior that in some cases was appalling, in others it was simply thoughtless, and in a few it was just plain ignorant. My friends, by the way, had impeccable manners, but a number of their guests did not share their graces.

One of the guests balanced his cell phone on his thigh—in plain view I might add–during the entire meal. It was blatantly obvious that he was not engaged or interested in the people and conversation around him. Another individual arrived not only late, but also with cut flowers in hand for the frantic hostess. A third invitee rushed to be first in line for the buffet and piled his plate so high that it was doubtful if there would be anything left for the patient last. It was difficult, if not impossible, to ignore these mealtime misdemeanors committed by well-educated experienced professionals. It was hard to tell if the real turkey was on the serving platter or seated at the table.

In an effort to keep you and others to whom you might choose to share this newsletter from committing these feasting faux pas, I have compiled a list of “don’ts” so that you will be sure to position yourself with polish and professionalism at the holiday meal, whether it is a business function or a family get-together.

Don’t arrive late. The host or hostess who has prepared or planned this meal has a timeline to follow. A few dishes can be ruined when the meal is delayed. Your tardy arrival tells your host and others that this occasion was not high on your list of priorities.

Don’t arrive with a bouquet of cut flowers. It seems like a nice thought, but it requires that the hostess, who is trying to greet guests, check on the food and tend to all the last minute details of serving a delicious meal, has to stop whatever she is doing, find a vase, arrange the flowers and then position them appropriately. Chances are she already has a centerpiece for the table as well as other decorations. Send the flowers the next day as a thank you or select another gift.

Don’t come to the table with your cell phone. IF you do, turn it off. If you can’t get through the meal without checking email and voice mail, stay home. Your actions say that you are not present anyway and are downright insulting to everyone else.

Don’t heap your plate to overflowing when going through the buffet line. To begin with it makes you look like a pig. While there is usually more than enough food for all, things do happen and the last person through the line could find themselves staring at empty serving dishes or scraping out the few crusted remains.

Don’t use your napkin for anything except to blot your mouth. This is cold and flu season. If you have a cold, bring your own handkerchief or a good supply of tissues.

Don’t start eating or touch anything at our place setting until your host has had time to welcome everyone or ask the blessing. That includes not taking the napkin off the table or taking a sip of wine or water.

Don’t use the boarding house reach. If you want something that is beyond your grasp, ask the person closest to it to pass it.

Don’t ask for any condiments that are not on the table or being served with the meal. That includes salt and pepper. By asking for additional sauces or spices, you are implying that the host did not season the food properly. Eat it as prepared.

Don’t leave the table until everyone else has finished eating and the host rises. To my utter amazement at this memorable occasion, I witnessed a dinner guest get up from the table and settle himself in a chair in another part of the room. Can you guess who it was? I am sure you know. It was the very same person who kept his cell phone in plain view during the meal.

My best advice for dodging dining disasters is to brush up on your table manners before you head out. If you are not willing to be the polite, engaged and engaging guest, stay home or go out alone.

Happy Holidays to all!

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Business Dining Etiquette for the Holiday Season

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13-0811-Lydia-Ramsey-eBook-Cover-230x300[1]It’s holiday season again and time for the parties to begin.  There will be the usual round of business/social events including cocktail receptions, luncheons and dinners.  Some will be stand up events; others will be seated.  Whatever the venue, one thing you can count on is that there will be food and drink involved.

Now might be a good time to brush up on your dining etiquette. Whether you are eating in a restaurant, the corporate dining hall or in someone’s home (like the boss’s), your table manners will be an indication of your professionalism and your polish. It really does matter which fork you use, how you eat your bread and where you put your napkin.

If you follow these ten tips, you are sure to get through the meal with confidence and ease.

1. Managing your napkin: Your napkin comes off the table when everyone is seated.  The dinner napkin is folded in half and placed in your lap with the crease facing your waist. It is used only for blotting your mouth. Never turn it into a multi-purpose item or use it as a handkerchief.

2. Starting to eat: Wait until your host has raised his fork before you pick up yours.  If he stops with fork in mid-air, you can proceed to take your food to your mouth. It is a matter of who raises their fork first, not who begins chewing first.

3. Using the correct utensil:  Forks are on the left and knives and spoons are on the right. Begin with the utensil that is the farthest from your plate and work your way from the outside in.

4. Spooning your soup: Soup is usually the first course and is always spooned away from you to the far side of the bowl and then brought back to your mouth. Drink your soup from the side of the spoon.  Don’t put the entire spoon in your mouth.

5. Breaking your bread: When eating bread, tear off one small piece at a time.  The bread and butter knife is to butter the bread, not to cut it.

6.  Placement of used utensils:  Once you have used a piece of cutlery, it never goes back on the table.  You rest it on your plate.  Knives are always placed at the top of the plate with the blade facing in and forks are put in the lower right hand corner of the plate when you are resting between bites. When you have finished your meal, place the knife and fork together with their handles in the lower right hand corner of the plate.

7. Cutting your food:  Cut one piece at a time.  Place that piece in your mouth, then cut another.  It is not as simple as when your mother used to do it for you all at one time.

8. Removing unwanted objects from your mouth: If you have something in your mouth that you cannot swallow, remember this tip. The item comes out the same way it went in.  If it went in with a fork, it comes out with a fork.  If it went in a spoon, it comes out with a spoon.  If it went in with your fingers, it comes out with your fingers. That’s the rule.

9. Finding the right glass:  Your glassware is always to the right of the place setting. If you happen to be left-handed, resist the urge to move your glass to the left side.  That will totally confuse the person on your left.

10. The end of the meal: The host is the one who signals that the meal is over by rising from his chair and placing his napkin back on the table.  If he sits there all night, you do too.

You can learn more about holiday etiquette by purchasing my inexpensive e-book “Business Etiquette For The Holidays“.  Happy Holidays!

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.