Basic Dining Etiquette – Table Taboos

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 122,103
    Nancy Mitchell of The Etiquette Advocate suggests some ways to be a polite guest and avoid rude behaviors at a dinner event.

    Nancy Mitchell

    Nancy R. Mitchell is an established protocol and etiquette consultant and advisor with more than 30 years of experience in the field. Currently, she is an adjunct faculty member at George Washington University, where she developed and teaches protocol courses to Event Management Certificate Program students in the School of Business and Public Management, and at Stratford University, Falls Church, VA. She serves also as protocol and special events consultant to the Library of Congress, the world’s largest library and cultural center. For 23 years, Mitchell was Director of Special Events and Public Programs at the Library of Congress where she and her staff were responsible for planning and managing over 400 events each year. She coordinated the institution’s major special events, visits of heads of state and other foreign dignitaries, fundraising galas, conferences and meetings. As the Library’s chief protocol advisor, she served as liaison to the White House, U.S Department of State, the Congress, the Supreme Court and other government agencies, foreign embassies, academia and corporations. Mitchell owns The Etiquette Advocate, Inc., a firm providing etiquette and protocol training to corporations, universities, embassies, government agencies, non-profit organizations and individuals. She is the etiquette consultant to Engaged! magazine, has been featured on Good Morning America, Fox 5 News, WTOP Radio and National Public Radio, and is quoted on matters of etiquette and protocol by the New York Times, Washington Business Journal, and the Washington Post. She is a co-owner of the firm, Protocol Partners-Washington Center for Protocol, Inc., and is a member of the Protocol and Diplomacy International Protocol Officers Association and the Women Business Owners of Montgomery Country (MD).

    Nancy Mitchell: Hello, I am Nancy Mitchell owner of the Etiquette Advocate and today we are talking about dining etiquette. We will now talk about what are some of the things you do not want to do, when you are seated at dining room table. First and foremost when you arrive at the table and you have found your place it is extremely rude to change place cards. The hosthostess has worked very, very hard on finding an arrangement at the table that will facilitate conversation. There is mixing and mingling of people and corporations and agendas, dont make the mistake of moving a place card. Find your place and sit where you are assigned, other things not to do at the table are taking medications. It makes other people very uncomfortable to see you taking a medication even you need to do that before a meal, it should be very, very unobtrusive. It should be something that you do not do when other people are watching.

    Hygiene, dont assume that after a meal you can apply lipstick. You cannot use a toothpick at table you cannot use your finger to get something out of your teeth at the table. All of those things are very offensive and will disturb other diners.

    Using your cell phone, the cell phone should be under the table it can be in a briefcase, it can be in a handbag. If it rings, reach down, turn it off, say to your dining companions I am so sorry, I had thought I had turned that off. Dont look at the display, dont answer the call to say I am sorry I cant talk right now or I will call you back. You are saying to your dining companions, that whoever is calling you is more important than they are, this should be out of the picture.

    Other things to remember are it is your responsibility to talk to your guest on your left and your right. If youve come to the event with someone from your business, from your family, its your responsibility to talk to other people at the table and not just to the person with whom youve come. Other things to avoid are, taking away doggy bags, if youre at business event or any event where you care about your image, dont ask for doggy bags, dont share bites of your food with other people at the table, dont ask for taste of someone elses. These things reflect very poorly on you. Next we are going to be talking about how to navigate the place setting.