Nowadays many people consider etiquette to be unnecessary and obsolete. But the point of having good manners is not about following hundreds of little rules and formalities blindly, but first and foremost it’s about respecting other people no matter who they are. As Jean de La Bruyère, a French philosopher and moralist said, “The point of being polite is the ability to speak and act so that other people are not bothered by us.”
Bright Side has collected some simple dining etiquette rules to follow while on dates or when meeting with friends. If you follow these rules, you’ll feel confident at any event and the people you are with will think of you as a nice, polite person.
Etiquette rules at official receptions and banquets
Places for guests. If there is no seating plan, guests should wait standing until the host of the event shows them their seats. In a traditional seating plan, the host of the event sits at the head of the table, the places right next to them are for the most honorable guests, and young people with children sit at the other end. Ladies sit at the table first and men stay standing until the ladies take their seats. Men help ladies sit down and move the chairs out for them. Those who are late are not to keep everyone waiting for more than 20 minutes. If you are late, apologize and join the conversation (without going into detail about why you are late). If you can’t drink certain beverages or eat certain foods because of your diet or medical condition, don’t tell everyone about it as not to offend the hosts of the event. Just don’t eat these foods. This may sound surprising, but toothpicks should be in the bathroom and not on the table. You can use a toothpick or eyedrops, fix your hair or makeup and other parts of your body only in the bathroom.
How to use cutlery
If you accidentally drop a fork or a spoon, don’t go under the table looking for it. Ask a waiter or the host of the event to get you a new one. The cutlery you started using should not touch the table. You can only place it on the side of your plate but not on the tablecloth. Don’t cut your entire meal into small pieces. It is believed that this way food goes cold much faster and loses its taste. It is better to cut one piece at a time and eat it right away.
How to hold cutlery correctly: A fork should be held with the prongs pointing down so that you can pick up the pieces of food with them (instead of using it like a spoon except for in cases when the food if soft like mashed potatoes). Your pointer finger should be placed along the handles of the fork and knife, and the other fingers should be around the handles. The American tradition (that is less popular) suggests that you should hold a fork the way you hold a pen (with your 3 fingers). According to etiquette, there are 2 ways of using cutlery — the classic European way and the American way. In the first tradition, knives and forks should be held through the entire duration of the meal. The knife is not put down even if it’s not needed. The American way says that you can put the knife on the side of the plate and then take the fork in your right hand. If someone asks you to pass a fork or a knife, pass it with the handle pointing forward, holding it in the middle.
Dating etiquette rules
According to etiquette, the lady participates in choosing the food and gets to choose it first. A popular mistake is telling the man to choose something that he likes. The best thing a woman can do is ask him for a recommendation. The order is then told to the waiter by the man. The lady shouldn’t choose the cheapest foods because the man may take offense to this. She shouldn’t order the most expensive foods either. This won’t make the right impression. When a waiter brings a bottle of wine, the man shouldn’t open it and pour the wine himself — this is the waiter’s job. However, the man can pour the next glass himself. First, the man should fill the lady’s glass, and then his. The glass should be filled just a little bit less than half. According to etiquette, the gentleman should be the first to pay. The lady shouldn’t interfere, offer to pay, or ask how much the bill is. If she really wants to demonstrate that she is financially independent, she can ask the waiter to split the bill beforehand or offer to pay the tip. If a man and a woman are just friends, they can pay Dutch style. In this case, after the man looks through the bill, he tells the amount to the woman and they agree on the tip.
The tradition of tipping is very different depending on the culture. For example, while tipping in the U.S. is necessary, some Asian countries take offense to it. The average amount to tip in Europe and in the U.S. is 10%—15% of the bill. Tips are your choice. You should give tips only in cases where you really enjoyed the service. In some restaurants, the tip is included in the bill. In this case, look for the phrases, “service included” or “tips included” on the bill. The tips are paid after the service is given. First, you pay your bill, the waiter brings you the change and only then do you leave the tip. Don’t say, “keep the change.” It sounds arrogant. Tips are not just money. It’s also your smile and your sincere gratitude to the waiter or bartender. Don’t just give a handful of change to the waiter, this is bad manners. Many people don’t know what to do about the tip if they want to pay by card. In some places, tips can be included in the bill, but not everywhere. Another way to do this is to transfer the tips to the waiter’s bank account using special apps like Plazius. Of course, this might not work either, so to be completely safe, just take some cash to the restaurant beforehand.
What rules of etiquette do you think are useful and necessary, and which ones do you think are outdated?
Illustrated by Daniil Shubin for BrightSide.me