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Dining Etiquette – Mind your Manners

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The world has become a smaller place: international travel and trading have provided opportunities to meet and interact with people from other countries, cultures, environments and lifestyles.  We are able to experience cuisines from all over the world and with this, it would be good to know the appropriate dining etiquette.

Be aware of differing values

In today’s culturally-diverse economy, cross-cultural differences will impact on how we conduct ourselves and our businesses.   Knowing  and  appreciating  the  differing  values,  etiquette and  the “do’s” and the “don’ts” of different cultures can positively influence our travel experience and business success.  This increased awareness will avoid misinterpretations and misunderstandings, reducing the risk of causing offence and consequent unwanted repercussions.

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Knowing the basics

We should remember the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”  There is no excuse for appearing to be ill-informed or ignorant travellers.  As a matter of respect for our hosts, it behoves us  to make every effort to acquire appropriate knowledge of the local social and dining etiquette.  Knowing the basic dining etiquette can enhance our effort in maintaining a positive personal image. It is also useful when discussing business over a meal.


Dining etiquette what to do cutlery setting
  • Start our meal using the dining implements from outside-in.
  • Place the bread plate on the left side and the glasses are on the right.
  • Table setting – the number of cutlery set on the table will determine the number of courses to be served.
  • Open the napkin and place it on the lap. If you need to go to the washroom, place your napkin on your vacated chair. At the end of the meal,
  • Simply place the napkin on the left of your plate (not neatly folded).
  • If you are nearest to the bread basket, take it and offer the bread to the person on your left. Then, take one for yourself before passing the basket to the person on your right.

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  • Take a small amount of butter from the butter dish onto your side plate. Break the bread by hand and not by using the butter knife.
  • Sip your soup silently from the side of your spoon. Do not blow your soup to cool it and scoop it in an outwards motion.
  • You should not wrap your hands into fists when handling the fork or knife. Also, you should also avoid ‘stabbing’ or ‘sawing’ your food with the cutlery.
  • Cut your food into bite-size morsels. However, never cut you food into numerous, small pieces before eating.
  • Never place used cutlery on the tablecloth.
  • Avoid blowing your nose at the table: if you must, simply excuse yourself and retire to the washroom.
  • Pass the salt and shakers together as a set. If someone asks for one, pass them both.

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By Kit Sani Barrett, principal consultant & trainer at ImageXchange.  She contributes various articles relating to beauty, style, business, home & lifestyle.