In this day and age, words like manner and etiquette mean nothing at all. Most people are not even aware of what manners they should be keeping in mind and that is the main reason why they are unable to act in a proper as well as decorous manner. The way in which you behave is a reflection of your upbringing and personality, so ensure that you always pay attention to your manners. Here are some of the chief things which you must keep in mind in order to help improve your table manners so that you do not make a fool of yourself when in public.
Good Table Manners:
There is a distinct difference between those people who have good table manners and those who do not. Previously most people were trained from a very young age to be mindful of their table manners but nowadays it is rare to see someone who has genuinely good table manners.
So you should strive to be one of the few people that knows how to conduct himself at the table so that you can be a shining example to the others at the gathering. No matter how educated you are, if your manners are not good, then sadly no one will be able to respect you. You should aim for a holistic development.
Basic Table Manners and Dining Etiquette:
1. Saying please and thank you at the table:
It is often said that ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are known as magical words. When someone does something for you or when you are requesting someone to do something for you then you ought to make use of these words. This having been stated, just because you are seated at a table that does not mean that you need not use these words.
If you want someone to pass you something or if you accidentally bumped into someone’s arm, it is of paramount importance that you make use of these words.
2. Saying grace before meals:
If you are at a company dinner party, it is unlikely that you will begin the meal with a prayer but if you are in someone’s house, then chances are that they would like to begin the festivities by thanking God for his mercy and for the generous meal which he has provided.
It is expected that you say Amen when the prayer is complete, irrespective of whether you are of another faith or if you are an atheist. If you are at someone else’s house it is important to show your respect for their beliefs.
3. Not having elbows at the table:
One of the most basic manners which almost all of us never pay any kind of attention to is not keeping our elbows on the table. Prior to the food arriving, it is acceptable to keep your elbows on the table, yet once the food arrives this is something which you should abstain from doing at any costs.
You might wonder why there is such a rule in the first place, doing this is wrong as not only does it show that you have a lazy posture but you automatically end up taking more table space when sitting in this manner.
4. Maintaining a proper body language:
As mentioned above you should have the right kind of posture when you come to eat. It is considered absolutely unacceptable if you are slouching while you are eating or if you do not bother to put your legs down properly and cross your ankles.
You should also ensure that your back is straight so that it does not come across like you have no respect for the food which is put before you or respect for the company you are dining with. It is basic courtesy to be very careful about your body language when eating.
5. No using mobile phones at the table:
It is obvious that we are living in an age of technology where we find it impossible to function without our mobile phones as well as tablets. No matter what, we should not be using our cell phones under the table or texting our friends while we eat.
Many homes have the rule where they do not allow phones at the table and this rule should be enforced rather strictly. If by chance you happen to get a very important call while you are eating, ensure that you do not pick up the phone at the table, rather excuse yourself, leave the room and then take the call.
6. Chewing with ones mouth closed:
No matter how much you love or even hate the food you should ensure that you are eating slowly, carefully chewing your food with your mouth closed. One of the worst things you can do is chewing with your mouth open and allow some of the food particles to drop out from your mouth.
It is often said in life that one should never bite off more that he can chew; this rule can be taken literally as well when it comes to the table manners which ought to be observed.
7. Being mindful at all times:
One of the most important as well as basic table manners which one should keep in mind is that you are not the only one who is eating and that is why you should be sensitive to the needs of others.
If by chance you notice that the food is running short and there are still others who have not eaten then it is courtesy that you do not go ahead and take a second helping, irrespective of how hungry you are. In addition to this, it is important to offer someone more food if you are the host and see that the person is almost done eating.
8. Not making any ungainly sounds:
Many people think that the sounds which they are making are inaudible to those who are siting around them. Yet if you can hear yourself chewing, chances are that the people around you can hear you too. Even if you are enjoying a lovely hot bowl of soup, you need not slurp it all up making some rather ungainly sounds which no one would like to hear.
No matter how crunchy, hard, soft or spicy the food is you should ensure that you are eating it up silently and not attracting any attention to yourself.
9. Being careful about what you say:
Different families and households have different rules when it comes to talking at the table. Some families encourage everyone to be silent till the meal is over, where as others enjoy some jovial talk during the meal as they believe that this brings the family together.
Irrespective of which kind of family you come from, you should ensure that at no time are you talking with your mouth full, even if it is only asking someone to pass you a dish. In addition to this never make the mistake of talking about vomit, dirt or germs.
10. Not getting up till everyone has finished eating:
It is of paramount importance to ensure that you do not get up from your place till everyone has finished eating their food. Even if you have to visit the rest room, ensure that you do not get up and leave without having said a word.
When you finish eating, it is vital to place your fork and spoon in the correct manner indicating that you have finished eating. In addition to this show no signs of impatience once you have finished, just wait in silence for the others.
11. Not bending over anyone else:
One of the worst things to do is to stretch your hands across the table or leaning and bending over others. This is something which only people who has no good table manners do. If you need something which is placed across the table, there is no need to get up or stretch forth your arm, simply ask someone to pass it to you and they will.
12. Knowing how to make use of cutlery and crockery:
The only way in which you will be able to act in a decorous and befitting manner if you are aware of how you ought to make use of the cutlery and the crockery which has been laid out on the table.
In addition to this be mindful of the fact that you should not be constantly drinking your water. Make sure you use the crockery and cutlery delicately. It would be terrible if you make a lot of noise while using them.
13. Keep your personal articles off the table:
It is basic table etiquette to keep your personal things off the table whether it is your mobile, keys, wallet or handbag. If by chance you happen to keep something on the table and someone checks you, you need not feel bad; use this criticism to improve yourself, rather than taking it in a sense in which it was not intended.
14. Use your napkin properly:
You must know how to use your napkin correctly as well. Knowing how to use the crockery and cutlery correctly is not merely enough. You must remember to spread out your napkin on your lap.
In addition to this, know that your napkin is for wiping your mouth and not your nose. Many people make the mistake of placing the napkin on the plate once they are finished eating. You should never make the mistake of doing as your napkin is bound to get soiled.
Tips to Improve your Table Manners:
1. Browse the internet to help you:
If you are unsure about what to do, you can always browse through the internet and brush up on your table manners and your dining etiquette. There is ample information available on the internet, all free and just a click of a button away. To help you, you could view the images and diagrammatic representations which are very easy to understand.
2. Study some home science books:
In addition to browsing the net you can always go through some home science books as things are mentioned rather comprehensively here. Many people take this subject up in order to improve their table manners and to learn some dining etiquette.
3. Watching old movies could be helpful:
There are plenty old English movies which you can watch when you would like to see how you ought to behave at the dinner table. Many of these things are done today, yet watching these movies are rather fun and interesting.
4. Practicing is important:
Initially you might find it rather tough to put into practice all that you have learnt, yet if you continue to practice what you see then things will come easy to you. You should try your best to let these things come naturally rather than forcing yourself to conduct yourself in a particular manner.
5. Don’t just observe table manners when guests come to visit:
Finally, ensure that you constantly observe these table manners and dining etiquette all the time rather than only when guests happen to pay a visit to your house. Train your children from small to pay attention to their manners and by the time they grow up these things will be engrained in their system.
Training yourself and improving your table manners will benefit you a great deal in the long run. If you keep practicing, things will come naturally to you. Knowing how you ought to behave will save you from a lot of embarrassing situations in the time to come and you will be able to act in a manner befitting for someone of your position.
Just because others are not mindful of their table manners you need not follow the herd and become like one of them.