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  Office Etiquette - do you have impeccable table manners?
Do You Have Impeccable Table Manners?
Mahita Suresh

Mahita Suresh works with various educational training institutes to set the curriculum for training in Business Etiquette.  She also imparts active training in the field and regularly writes tips on Business Etiquette for She writes...

In the course of your career and even in your personal life, there will be many occasions when your table manners will be on display. It could be a business conference, a dinner with a client or even a date and it is a good idea to acquaint yourself in advance.

Eating Soup

Soup is usually the first course, it could show you off as a savvy diner or someone whose manners could do with polishing! Soup is served either in a wide, shallow dish, or a smaller bowl, resting on an under-plate.

• Spoon the soup away from you, towards the centre of the bowl.

• Sip from the side of the spoon. Never put the whole spoon in your mouth or slurp. Noisy eating is better placed in the farmyard, rather than the dining table!

•  Tip the bowl away from you and spoon the soup across the bowl to get at the last bits.

•  After finishing the soup, place the spoon in the under-plate, or in the soup plate at a10:20 position.

Placing The Dinner Napkin

Most of us are still ignorant about the proper use of a dinner napkin. One thing is for certain, the napkin should NEVER be tucked under the chin, unless of course one is 5 years old or younger!
Lift the napkin soon after you are seated and place it on your lap. However, at more formal occasions wait for a signal from the host before doing so.
Use the napkin throughout the meal to dab your lips. This prevents greasy lip marks from being transferred to the glass and of course removes unsightly food residue from lips!
The napkin rests on the lap till the end of the meal. Place the napkin in loose folds to the left of your plate. If you have to leave the table during the meal, leave the napkin on your chair.
Don't clean the cutlery or wipe your face with the napkin. NEVER use it to wipe your nose!

Breaking Bread

Bread is usually the first food served at all, but the most formal of meals. Help yourself to as much bread as you want, but remember that this is just the beginning of the meal and not the meal itself. Good manners also demand that a piece of bread be left back in the basket.

• Bread is served either in a basket, which is placed in the centre of the table, or served individually. Take a piece and place it on the bread dish, which is to the left of the dinner plate. Wait for everyone to be served before you start eating.
• Break off just a bite sized piece of the bread. Don't cut the bread, don't butter the entire slice, and most important, don't dunk it in your soup!
• Butter is usually placed in an individual container, just above the bread plate. Take some butter, using the butter knife, if there is one, or the meat knife, and place it at the edge of the bread dish. Butter only a single, bite-sized piece of bread at a time.
• If butter is served in a bowl, which is kept in the centre of the table, a separate butter knife always accompanies it. Use this, and not your knife to help yourself. Other diners will certainly not appreciate having to share crumbs from your bread!

Next week cover some more formal dinning dos’…

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Other Articles By Mahita Suresh

Do You Know Your Business Etiquette?
How Do I Eat My Spaghetti?
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