Nose-picking in progress. (Photo credit: Wikipe
A “No Spitting” sign. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Dear Ms Gamble,
My husband and I have been invited to attend “An Evening got our Members” where we golf. The event will he held at the end of May, from what I can tell from the weather predictions it will be cool, Live Music, Food and beverages will be served and from 6 to 11 PM. The dress code indicated on the invitation states “Elegantly casual”.
I do find that there are more and more type of dress codes coming out of the closets.
Dear Mrs. Bergeron,
All of these made up dress codes drive me mad. Stick any two
words together and feel people will know what you mean for them
From as best as I can decipher,”Elegantly Casual” means you get
to mash up Black Tie with sports clothes. Be comfortable,but don’t
look like you are running Saturday errands. Dress up,but not so much
so that you can’t enjoy mingling for 2 hours without thinking about how you just want to get home and change.
Good Luck as you rummage around in your closet!
Manners Make Life Easier
Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.
|“What’s the point of all those etiquette rules and fancy stuff? I bet some prissy old English dame or Frenchman with curls invented it all just to make the rest of us feel stupid.”We have all heard such complaints about manners, that they are just mere conventions that stand in the way of the good American pioneer way of straightforward truth and plain living. That the rules of social etiquette are threats to self-expression and freedom. That they don’t really mean anything.
In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
Manners and courtesies, customs and conventions were not developed with the notion of making life more difficult for men and women. They had a purpose that was the exact opposite: to make life more amenable in the necessary relationships of existence, and more bearable in the inevitable difficult times. At the very heart of good manners is something so lacking in our days, that is, consideration for others. Good manners came into being not artificially, but based on an authentic concern for the respect of others.
If today, consideration for others is so lacking and social relations so shattered, I think we can safely say one reason is because good manners and normal courtesy have been disregarded as unnecessary and superfluous. Far from being superfluous, most manners developed as a result of a shared ethics and moral code. Some small but illustrative examples follow.
Manners have meaning
Every etiquette book instructs us that one does not bite into a whole slice of bread or whole roll. The well-bred man or woman breaks off a small piece to eat. This rule of breaking bread into morsels was not made by persnickety Victorian ladies at afternoon tea. It goes back to Old Testament times when it was the custom for table leavings to be collected after the meal and given to the poor. In consideration for those who would receive the leftovers, one broke off only what piece he would eat from the bread. Thus the expression, breaking bread together.
Charity summoned into being the table rule of breaking off only the piece of bread one will eat
The charitable practice was continued in the monasteries of early medieval times and from there, found its way into grand castles and simple households. A 15th-century Book of Courtesy gave this explanation:
Bite not thy bread and lay it down, This is not courtesy to use in town; But break as much as you will eat The remnant to the poor you shall lete [leave].
What summoned the rule into being was charity, a courtesy to those who would take and use the bread that remained after the meal was over. Leftovers, yes, but untouched by the lips of others. And such courtesy still justifies the existence of such rule today.
The salt and pepper should always travel together, the books of etiquette instruct. When someone asks for salt, one should pass the pepper as well. An arbitrary rule? Not at all. The rationale behind the rule is again one of consideration, an anticipation that the person requesting salt may have an eventual need for the pepper. It is also a consideration for the next person at the table who may need the salt and pepper, who will not have to chase them down at different places. Following the rules, we show consideration for others and make life easier and more pleasant for all.
A constant and unchanging dictate of good manners is to never criticize the food on the table. This rule used to be taught even to young children, who were chastised should they cry out: “Yuck! This is horrible.” “Sickening.” The more vulgar commentary that can be heard at tables so often today does not bear repeating, even for example’s sake.
Obviously, to criticize a meal offered shows a lack of consideration for the one who prepared or provided it. It is a self-centered reaction of one who imagines his own likes and dislikes the central criterion of all. But the rule has a more interesting history. Again, it came from the ancients and medievals, who viewed any criticism of food served at the table of the host as a grave breach against hospitality. Having once been invited to share the meal in a house, an invitation which used to be taken very seriously, the guest would never diminish the host by criticizing the food.
What was probably the first book dealing with table etiquette, Fifty Courtesies of the Table, written by a Milanese monk Bonvicino da Riva, sets down the rule very plainly:
“Blame not the dishes when thou art at entertainment, but say that all are good. I have detected many ere while in this vile habit, saying ‘This is ill cooked,’ or ‘This is ill salted.’
Other courtesies of the table the book warns again would seem elementary in any times but our own: not to wipe your nose while eating, not to scratch yourself while eating, not to gulp food and liquid in one mouthful, not to lick one’s fingers clean of food or pick one’s teeth with the fingers, not to stare in others’ plates, not to talk with a mouthful of food, and certainly never to belch loudly in the presence of others.
When in France… (Photo credit: lambertwm)
The good monk’s rules are presented in that straightforward style Americans like. Demanding self-restraint in consideration for others, these laws for behavior at the table are timeless and changeless. The message at the heart of all the directives is simple: A courteous man, a man of refinement, a Catholic gentleman or lady should consider others at all times, and especially while dining.
Another sound rule of the past sadly disregarded at present is to rise to one’s feet when a lady, an older person or a dignitary enters a room. This was a sign of respect for age and rank. A simple gesture like this helped to instill in youth a respect for age, rank, and authority. And far from diminishing freedom, knowing the right way to behave according to one’s age and position gives security and self-confidence to all.
In the pre-liberated woman days, gentleman were always taught to walk on the “outside” of a lady, giving her the “wall” side in the street, to provide her protection from the dirt of the road or runaway horses. But, whatever the reason, the good rationale behind the custom was that the lady received this deferential position because she was a lady and worthy of protection. For the same reason, the gentleman used to help the lady to enter the carriage, and later, he opened the car door to seat the lady. Such gentile courtesies were symbols of the authority of the man, the protection he offered, and the mutual respect that existed in a relationship.
Manners reflect the morals of a civilization
If there were time, we could subject every manner to the test of good sense and reason. No custom or gesture would be random, or superfluous. For the laws of courtesy were the development of the spiritual as well as social man, reflecting the wisdom of the Catholic faith that was instilled in the customs, traditions and mores.
There is much talk today about the hostility, alienation, and vulgarity of the modern man. It seems to me a realistic way to begin to tackle the problem – in that old-fashioned straightforward way of Americans – would be a return to the practice of the forms and courtesies developed through centuries of Catholic living. For, as one can see from the few examples above, manners have profound meaning and make life easier and more bearable.
Elbows off the table (Photo credit: theirhistor
Business etiquette for professionals
Donald K. Burleson
Updated April 22, 2009
Note: In addition to these guidelines, make sure to review : Dress Code, Cross-Cultural Guidelines, Professional Corporate Tipping tips, professional golf etiquette, Corporate travel etiquette manners and cultural manners.
||Good manners and professional etiquette are essential to a professional consultant, and I’m constantly amazed that many professionals believe that professional protocol is as outdated as finger bowls at dinner.
I noticed this book on Brooks Brothers “How to be a Gentleman” and I bought a copy for my young male executives, plus the book How to be a Lady for aspiring female executives.
Business professionals are expected to understand etiquette and professional protocol, and while the standards have changed over the past century (i.e. It’s no longer considered rude to address a corporate executive by their first name), there are still many rules of common professional manners.
||Historically, good manners evolved from common-sense and respect for others, and Sebastian Brandt was among the first advocates of good manners in his 1494 work in his book Stultifera Navis (Ship of Fools), a hilarious collection of woodcuts showing numerous breaches of the professional manners of the 15th century.Later, Victorian England became obsessed with fine manners, and one of the greatest marketing efforts in the world was the Staffordshire craze of the 19th century.
American pioneer wives pestered their husbands relentlessly to get the Victorian “Flow Blue” china, so they could demonstrate fine etiquette. Let’s take a look at professional mannerisms and see how etiquette and chivalry are far from dead in American culture:
Professional Etiquette in the workplace
Whatever your personal definition of professional manners, there are some common courtesies that are timeless and always expected from a courteous American professional.
Involuntary bodily functions
There are times when involuntary bodily functions can disrupt a meeting, and the well-versed professional know the proper etiquette.
||Everyone has had the experience of sneezing, and you should always be prepared for this unexpected reflex. I once witnessed a Herculean sneeze where the poor fellow had no ready access to a Kleenex or handkerchief and every sat in-horror watching him dispose of great gobs of spittle and snot by wiping it into his pants pocket.
Ever since Benjamin Franklin published his bestseller “Fart Proudly” there has been a debate about involuntary flatulence and the proper was of handling this breach of professional etiquette.
||The debate centers around two issues, sound and smell.If the gas is passed silently, yet possesses an aroma that will curl your hair, many professionals recommend ignoring the incident, thereby allowing everyone in the room to silently speculate about the identity of the perpetrator.
In my experience, a quick disapproving glance at the dog will suffice.
Ignoring embarrassing involuntary sounds, including farts, is the approach taken by most professionals.
I once knew a high-ranking executive who sputtered every time that he bent over. He was aware it it (as were we all) yet the polite thing to do is to ignore it and, if necessary, move the meeting to another area.
Rank and status
It is still considered polite in corporate circles to stand when a senior executive or a woman (of any status) enters a room. This is especially true in the military and Federal Government where senior officers (Lt. Col. and up), elected officials, dignitaries and top-executives expert you to stand when they enter a meeting. In practice, most professionals make motions like they are planning to stand-up, allowing the official an opportunity to wave-them-down with a quick hand motion.
When meeting another professional it is critical that you follow proper protocol. Wait until they have offered their hand (not not, just bow your head at the neck). When shaking hands, you should always use a firm grip (but don’t squeeze) and look the professional directly in the eye when greeting them.
||When exchanging business cards, it is polite to look at the card and make some sort of comment, even if it is just a confirmation (e.g. “Is this your correct cell number?“)
When meeting people of celebrity status (politicians, entertainers) you should never offer your hand first and place them in an awkward situation.
For example, I’ve read that Donald Trump and Prince Charles will not reciprocate an offer to shake hands (Trump is a germophobe and he will rebuff you if you try to shake hands with him).
When traveling with other professionals always remember the LIFO (last-in, first-out) rule. The senior person always enters a vehicle last so that they may be the first to depart.At professional meeting and cocktail parties you must be on-time (it’s an affront to arrive after the senior people) and you MAY NOT leave until the senior executive has left the party. Most executives are well-aware of this protocol and will excuse themselves early to give others an opportunity to leave.
Corporate party manners
When at a corporate party, it’s considered extremely rude to leave the party until the senior person at the party has departed.
In turn, the senior managers display gracious manners by deliberately excusing themselves early so that their underlings are free to depart.
Professional Etiquette when Dining
One of the biggest areas of breaches of professional etiquette is during dining situations, and many major corporation will test job candidates with a meal as an integral part of the job interview. It’s interesting to see how the rules of etiquette have changed over the centuries. An British etiquette writer of the 1840′s advised, “Ladies may wipe their lips on the tablecloth, but not blow their noses on it.“. Also see our pages on dining abroad, Our most interesting meals.
Good professional manners pays off. There is the famous true-story about a gallant gentleman who noticed a bug in his salad. The horrified hostess also noticed it at the same time, and to spare her a public embarrassment he discretely ate the insect and said nothing about it. Years later the grateful hostess rewarded the gentleman for his chivalry by leaving him a substantial sum of money.
Here are general tips for good professional manners when dining.
General professional dining tips
Etiquette (Casiotone for the Painfully Alone album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
||In a fancy restaurant you may encounter a bewildering array of tableware and you are expected to understand the proper function of each utensil.Remember the ancient episode of “I Love Lucy” where she asked for a tea-bag to go with her fingerbowl?.
As a rule-of-thumb, always use your utensils outside-in, and don’t be afraid to leave the table and ask the server if you find an unusual dining device.
I was once presented with a small silver spatula, like a hammered-flat spoon. I slipped off and discretely learned that it was a “sauce spoon”, used from scraping-up the sauce that they artistically drizzle on your dessert plate!
|By the way, never, ever, leave a spoon in a bowl or a glass.It is considered boorish and it may also have the unwanted side effect of causing a spill if someone waves their hand over the table.
Never gesture with a knife of fork, especially if it has food on it. (I know this sounds stupid, but I’ve witnessed people in animated conversation holding a speared shrimp on their fork).
Wine rituals at dinnertime
| Don’t choose a wine just because it has a high-tech name.
||While entire books have been written on wine manners, here are some high-level wine protocol tips:
- He who grabs the wine list, gets the check – If you are picking-up the dinner tab, you must make sure that you reach-out for the wine list (this is a well-understood signal to the waiter that you are the person taking the check), and this will avoid the awkward check-grabbing contest at the end of the meal.
When dining with superiors (or clients) always make sure that you feign ignorance about wine (i.e. “I have horrible taste in wines. Can you help me?“), and hand them the wine list.
Choosing the wine – If the client chooses, always agree, even if it has a screw-off cap. If you choose, remember that it is insulting to try to impress them with a high-priced wine (anything over $400/bottle in 2005). You can get many superb reds (you can’t miss with Chateau Mouton Rothschild, one of the best, and at a great price) for under $200.
Understand the wine ritual - I’ve seen young people who embarrass themselves by not understanding the simple wine ritual. I once witnessed a fellow grab the cork as-if the waiter was handing him a jar of warm spit. He had no idea what to do with it, so he licked the cork! In case you need a refresher:
- The initial presentation – The waiter shows you the bottle. Your only job is to take a quick glance and make sure that it’s the wine that you ordered, and you just read he name and vintage, and nod. You are not supposed to examine the bottle!
- The cork presentation – The waiter hands you the cork for the sole purpose of examination, not sniffing. Improperly-stored wines (placed vertically) will allow the cork to dry out, resulting in an air-breach will cause the wine to turn to vinegar. Just do a quick sniff, and hand it back. It’s extremely unlikely that you will get a bad bottle, and believe me, you will know it the instant you sniff the cork and detect the scent reminiscent of dirty socks.
- The sip test - At this point the waiter will place a tasting amount of wine wine and step back. This is your signal to small and taste the wine. Simply swirl the wine in your mouth to release its natural aroma and stick you nose into the glass while inhaling deeply. Next, take a very small sip, swishing the wine evenly across your tongue. Next, turn to the waiter, and nod your approval. Unless you are world-class oenophile, don’t EVEN THINK about sending the bottle back. I saw someone do this once and the Sommelier came to the table and told the fellow that there was nothing wrong with the $150 bottle, and made the table take the wine.
Don’t touch your face with your fingers
Without going-into details, the safest way to remember good manners is to never touch your face with your fingers. This covers a wide-range of faux-paux from nose picking to removing sleepers from your eyes.
||In some cultures, digging boogers from your nose in public is an acceptable acceptable practice.However, American professionals know that you should never pick your nose in public.
I once met a client with a dried booger that would disappear in his nose when he inhaled and re-appear when he exhaled. It was impossible to pay attention to this man because the booger show was mesmerizing everyone in the room.
Foreign objects in your food
||At some point in your dining experience everyone had placed something in their mouth that could not be swallowed.Nobody wants to see a masticated piece of gristle on your plate, but you would be surprised at how many professionals do not follow proper manners for removing foreign objects from their mouth.
When you put something in your mouth that you cannot swallow you should use your napkin to “fake” wiping your mouth and subtly place the offensive item in your napkin.
If you find something in your food that belongs to someone you should always return it to them. In a recent North Carolina case of poor professional manners, a man in a custard shop breached professional courtesy by refusing to return a man’s finger, because he was saving it for evidence in a lawsuit:
Stowers had refused to give it to the shop’s owner or a doctor who was treating 23-year-old Brandon Fizer, who accidentally stuck his hand in a mixing machine and had his finger lopped off at the first knuckle.
Stowers later realized that it is very rude and unprofessional to keep a body part, but his breach of manners was to late to be rectified and the frozen finger could not be re-attached. As we’ve already noted, in some parts of the USA it is considered chivalrous to eat any foreign objects that the host inadvertently places in the food.
Involuntary food ejection
It some point in your career you may experience the horror of accidentally ejecting a food particle from your mouth. Like the adage that dropped toast will always fall buttered-side down, the gross particle will most likely land directly on your boss’s dinner plate.
I’ve seen this happen on numerous occasions and it can be very awkward. Some professionals recommend making-light of the incident with flippant comments like “Are you planning to eat that?“, but I always ignore it unless it’s so gross that it must be removed from the table, which most savvy professionals can accomplish with a deft swipe of their napkin.
||As a child I was fully indoctrinated into professional manners, learning all aspects of the social graces, the source of much kicking and screaming.My parents always joked that Grandma insisted on chaperoning them on their first date, as it was improper for a young lady to go-out unattended on a first date.
I hated my etiquette training at the time (I especially hated learning to Waltz, Foxtrot, and Tango), but its one of those things that they will thank you for later. When I became a parent, I made sure that my kids attended Cotillion and today they are comfortable in any professional social setting.
Interestingly, even animals have social rules and norms of civil behavior, and you can always tell an intelligent animal if it understands animal etiquette. I evaluate an animals response to a social courtesy to access their social skills and intelligence.
In sum, professional manners and etiquette and mostly common-sense, but you must always be conscious that your mannerisms reflect on your personal professionalism and your company.
- If you do need to get somebody’s attention right away, the phrase “excuse me” is the most polite way for you to enter the conversation.
- When you have any doubt about doing something, ask permission first. It can save you from many hours of grief later.
- The world is not interested in what you dislike. Keep negative opinions to yourself, or between you and your friends, and out of earshot of adults.
- Do not comment on other people’s physical characteristics unless, of course, it’s to compliment them, which is always welcome.
- Saying please and thank you
- Never intentionally embarrassing another
- Never talking only about oneself
- Not gossiping
- Not prying
- Not asking personal questions
- Not staring
- Not pointing at someone
- Dressing appropriately
- Not talking loudly
- Not asking intrusive personal questions
- Sit with good posture
- Lay the napkin on your lap
- Start eating only when the host has started
- If there is no obvious ‘host’, wait for everyone else before you start eating.
- Keep your mouth closed when chewing.
- Take small bites.
- Eat quietly.
- Say excuse me when you have to use the restroom
- Keep your area clean and tidy.
- No double dipping unless you are dining with a culture where all the dishes are shared.
Manners in different situations:
- Sit and walk straight. Maintain good posture at all times.
- Laugh, smile, giggle, cry with dignity. Do not make a scene.
- Do not slap your knees, jerk forward or roar with your mouth wide open when you laugh or bawl loudly at the sidewalk when you are sad.
- Try to make as little noise as possible in all situations. (when you eat, walk, talk, sit, run etc.) No slurping, chewing noisily, crunching, e.g. cracking knuckles.
- Smile, be interested in the surroundings.
- Dress appropriately.
- It is generally rude to call a certain attention to yourself. Such as wearing jeans to a wedding, looking sloppy etc
- Speak properly
- All food should be served and everyone seated before food is eaten by anyone, with the host taking the first bite. If a host instructs guests ‘not to wait’ this rule is vetoed.
- When eating soup, you should hold your spoon in your right hand and tip the bowl away from you, scooping the soup in movements away from yourself. The soup spoon should never be put into the mouth, and soup should be sipped from the side of the spoon, not the end.
- Wine glasses should be held by the stem in the case of white wines, and by cupping the bowl in the case of red wines. Wines should be served in the sequence “white before red, light before heavy, young before old”, and it is impolite to ask for, or to offer, “more” wine.
- It is accepted that you may place your elbows on the table as long as you do not rest weight upon them. Historically it had been rude to place your elbows on the table but this formally changed in the mid-nineties.
- A knife should never enter the mouth or be licked.
- Food should always be chewed with your mouth closed.
- It is impolite to reach over someone to pick up food or other items. Diners should always ask for items to be passed along the table to them. In the same vein, diners who are passing items along the table should not use it on the way, but pass it directly to the person who asked.
- Talking with food in your mouth is seen as very rude.
- Food should be tasted first before salt and pepper are added. Applying garnishes before the food is tasted is viewed as an insult to the cook, as it shows a lack of faith in their ability to prepare a meal.
- It is impolite to slurp your food or eat noisily.
- It is impolite to take photographs during dinner.
One of the things that sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom is the ability to eat with cutlery; unfortunately it’s not unusual for cutlery to be used in such a way as to question that belief. Whilst in the process of writing this page I went to my local pub and saw two young men each eat their whole meal without even unwrapping their cutlery from its serviette. So point one is a very basic but necessary one.
- Use cutlery to eat your meals.
- Keep your mouth closed when chewing.
- Finish one mouthful before starting the next.
- Never put your knife in your mouth, or lick your plate.
- Do not speak with your mouth full.
- Unless there is an imminent threat of the theft of your meal take your time and enjoy it, you are not just filling up a hole. Overly bulging hamster cheeks are not attractive.
- Finish your mouthful before taking a drink.
- Never spit food out.
- If you always eat off of your lap in front of the TV when at home try to make an effort to eat at the table once in a while.
- Make time for family meals, family is the building block of society, eating together is fundamental, after all we are sociable animals.
- Break your bread into small pieces with your fingers and butter it one piece at a time, your butter knife will normally be on your side plate (remember this is on your left) or next to it. The only time you should butter a piece of bread without breaking it is your toast at breakfast as it will normally have been cut in half for you.
- Do not scrape your plate with your cutlery.
- Never scoop food up with your fork the tines should always point downwards.
- Move your soup spoon from 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock when spooning up soup, when only a little is remaining, tilt the bowl away from you to enable you to finish it.
- Ask “May I get down please” if you’d like to leave the table early.
- Cutlery is a potential minefield all of its own, it is important that we know how to hold it and how to use it.
- The place settings below are for a three course meal starting with soup, the first has the pudding cutlery alongside the crockery whereas the second has the pudding cutlery placed above; both are correct. The fundamental rule regarding the order of use of cutlery is to work inwards from both sides.
- You will notice that your bread plate and knife are to your left.
English: Example of a common dress code for males in modern Western culture. Note that these designations are far from universal, but offer examples of standard and commonly-understood levels of acceptable dress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
- Courteous, Chivalrous and Etiquette (smith-wellness.com)
- West Knox consultant teaches art of etiquette to East Tennessee youngsters (knoxnews.com)
- Hot Girls Guide to Beauty Etiquette (hotgirletiquette.com)