Minding Your Manners at the Table
Take a second to ponder: How do you fair at the dinner the table?
Are you a fast, slow, rough, gentle, strategic or haphazard eater? Do you eat anyhow like it just doesn’t matter who’s around and watching; or are you cautious and mindful of your every move?
Today’s dining is more global influenced by a mix of both tradition and the jet age. Some people have no time to sit and eat in a prim and proper manner, they would rather eat on the go, on their feet namely the fast food generation. Some may substitute and settle for the famous desktop dining and eat while working at the same time. In the same way some people have got it just right recognizing that the true show of ones polish, and panache is indeed in the way they conduct themselves over a meal, in the presence of others.
Your manners at the table is not about the food but your posture, your conduct , your social graces and your communication tactics; that can move you from tacky to sophisticated. Your normal dining habits behind closed doors at home in your normal element can either make or break you if and when you show it to the outside world. Let’s remember whether you are dining socially or for business, it is the number one way to make, build and sustain relationships. Interestingly there is always an opportunity to eat at most events and meetings no matter how small. Your simple act of talking with a mouthful of food; can create an impression of you that could be unfavorable, discrediting and unappealing. Now if this is a social setting you will probably just loose a bit of class. In a business setting depending on who you are dining with, many decisions fall behind your conduct and behavior. If you do not appear credible and your acts undermine your personality, this can out rightly jeopardize your opportunities for potential business relationships and opportunities.
Dining with decorum involves real manners at the table including politeness, kindness, respect, consideration and courtesy. Too many times we see poor eating habits, gesturing with cutlery, spitting, poor use of wet hand towels, inappropriate table posture, shouting across the table, over piling of the plate, fidgeting, teeth picking and overall wrong grooming tactics while seated.
Everyone has their own style of dining depending very much on upbringing, exposure and experiences of life. As much as freedom of expression is the ideal you also do not to find yourself in an embarrassing situation not knowing what to do. Adding a little decorum to your style is to your benefit. Where it matters most it will help you stand out from the crowd and give you that extra competitive advantage.
Believe it or not a great way to advance your career and step into you next level whether you are a C-suite executive or a young graduate aspiring to be a seasoned professional is to master how to navigate your way around the dinner table factoring culture along the way. It is the huge difference in high-level business circles and international networks. Your culture may encourage dining with your hand, slurping on your soup or burping it is still important to consider your locality, geographic environment and the company you are with to be on point. Learn to be adventurous at the table, most especially when you are offered something new. Even when you are skeptical, before you say No try it, at least make an effort. Do not be caught pushing food away in disgust or spitting out the food in public because these immediate impromptu table manners show your innate characterized table manners.
Are you guilty of any of these bad table manners?
It may just be the right time to make paradigm shift and show some class in your favor.
- Using a tooth pick at the table with your hand over your mouth
ii. Using you wet towel to wipe you head
iii. Continuous talking with full
iv. Never using the napkin on the table from start to finish
v. Receiving phone calls and texting at the table
vi. Piling your plate to overcapacity during buffet settings.
One thing I must say is that old habits do die hard, and at times you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. Nonetheless factor this when you are on your next business or social dining outing:
‘Dining is like dancing, take it one step at a time, learn to taste your food not just chew it.’
‘Eat a little, taste a little, chat a little, laugh a little, love a little and enjoy that meal.’