Alice Kaushal, our business etiquette and cross-cultural expert shares the top ten tips on Western Dining Etiquette:
Table manners stand out as the single most important benchmark of etiquette. The reality is this- probably because of the proximity to each other, people seem to notice mistakes made at the table much more critically than they do in many other situations. Having impeccable table manners is particularly significant in Asia, where the practice of business entertaining over a convivial meal is much more prevalent than anywhere else in the world.
So here they- the top 10 Dining Etiquette tips. So the next time you are dining with business associates or friends, bear these in mind and enjoy your meal.
1- Switch off your mobile phone. Taking a call during a meal is disrespectful. It subtly conveys the message that the person on the phone is more important than the people that you are dining with.
2- Talk to the people on either side of you. Quite often, one can be engrossed in an interesting conversation, and neglect to engage the person seated on the other side
3- For obvious reason, don’t sneeze or cough without at least covering your mouth and turning away from the table. And then, excuse yourself and wash your hands. If you have to blow your nose, excuse yourself and do it in the washroom.
4- Don’t start eating before the host has asked you to start or until the host starts eating.
5- Never talk with your mouth full. Nothing is more disagreeable to other people than catching a glimpse of a mouthful of half chewed food.
6- If faced with a large array of unfamiliar cutlery, remember that you use the cutlery on the outside first and work your way inwards.
7- If at a restaurant, avoid ordering food that is difficult to eat. Pieces of meat with large bones, unshelled lobster or unpeeled prawns fall into this category. It is difficult to eat these foods without making a mess.
8- Be considerate of your dining companions. Pass dishes around and serve other people before you serve yourself.
9- Don’t eat too quickly, or heap your plate with food. Cut only small bites for one mouthful and take only small mouthfuls.
10- Your napkin is not to be used like a handkerchief. It may be used to discreetly dab at your mouth. It is not to be used to energetically wipe your face, blow your nose, or wipe lipstick off. Once the meal is over, loosely fold your napkin so that no stains show and place it to the left hand side (not on) your plate.