Knowledge of etiquette makes it easy for you to make a great impression. Although there is no need to use dessert spoons or avoid phone calls when alone or with friends, there are other occasions, such as when dining with business colleagues, when certain rules apply. The main thing is to understand where the boundary lies between following rules on how to behave and seeming over-ingratiating towards others, as these are far from being the same things. A degree of moderation is always important.
This knowledge will allow you to make a most favourable impression on people.
1. Men open doors, allowing ladies to enter first. They then help them to take off their coats. If a table has been reserved, the man should find out where it is and lead his companion to it.
2. It is offensive to laugh at excessive volume, talk loudly or stare at other diners.
3. The golden rule is that the person making the invitation should pay for the meal. However, at impromptu meetings for lunch where a table has not been reserved, each diner should pay for their own food. In this case you must keep track of your spending and warn the waiter in advance to make separate cheques, to avoid spending half an hour tallying things up with a calculator.
4. If your guests want to pay the cheque themselves, it’s not worth making fuss or trying to force some grubby notes on them. This is crass! It is much politer to let them treat you.
At the Table
1. Not all of us can boast of an excellent knowledge of table etiquette. This is forgivable. In a restaurant you will only be given the cutlery you need for the dishes you have ordered. You have come for a pleasant dining experience, not to take part in a fork selection competition. If you do begin to feel lost, ask the waiter for advice. There’s no need to feel embarrassed; no one will laugh at you.
2. Take your phones off the table! To the detached observer it really does look comic when yet another entrepreneur begins to take business decisions at the dining table. This is simply rude. Other diners have paid for a pleasant evening, and not for a chance to find out how your business is getting on.
3. Always try to be on time for any meeting. Being excessively late does not show you in the best light. Making excuses about the traffic no longer cuts it; it sounds unconvincing and is unfair to those waiting for you. It is acceptable to be up to 15 minutes late, any later and it is necessary to call and offer an explanation. If you know beforehand that you may be late, don’t leave your call to the last minute, let them know in advance.
1. Well brought up people rarely talk in polite society about their personal affairs, relations at work, children, ailments, cares, habits or tastes. If there is no special need, they are unlikely to share chit chat about what they did in the morning.
2. Polite people talk little about their close family. In other words, they do not gossip.
3. Listening is just as much an important skill as talking. This does not simply mean keeping silence. Look with interest at the person speaking and make interjections at appropriate intervals. This demonstrates that you are following what is being said.
4. Well mannered people seldom interrupt, even if they have already heard an anecdote more than a hundred times.
1. We have already talked about the dangers being late. On occasion, however, coming early can be even worse. We may catch our hosts moving tables, or our meal still being cooked.
2. Only bring your children if they’ve been included in the invitation. Loving parents should refrain from entertaining society with their children, as not everyone will share your appreciation of this delight. It is usually considered permissible to bring along friends or relatives who are your own guests. This is reasonable, as long as you warn the host in advance.
3. When playing the guest it is impolite to refuse food. Any dishes offered should be received without hesitation. If you are on a strict diet, it’s best not to accept invitations to dinner at all. If you feel you must go, you can always ask for smaller portions of dishes, or even leave food on the plate, but on no account burden your fellow diners with the details of your dietary problems or dislike of any foodstuff you have been served.
1. As a rule both parties shake hands after signing a business agreement.
2. When meeting strangers, you may shake hands at the moment when you are introduced.
3. When seeking employment it is acceptable to shake hands with a future boss at an interview.
4. A hand shake is natural when receiving some form of award at formal ceremony.
1. Usually, when a door is held open for you, it’s best to pass through without making a fuss. Guests should always go through doors first unless they are men, in which case the woman should go first. When showing an especially respected personage around an office or home where there are several doors, politeness requires the host to behave as follows; hold the first door open, let the guest through, then overtake them in the direction of the next door, open that, and so on. At shop or office doorways let those exiting pass through first before entering. This is to avoid jams inside the building.
2. At double swing doors, the lady, in the lead, takes the handle of the right door and pulls it towards her. The man, standing behind her, takes it from her and holds the door open, allowing the lady to pass through. He then follows her through the doorway. The left door should be avoided as it is used by people coming the other way.
Stairs, Escalators and Elevators
1. It used to be considered polite for a man climbing stairs in the company of a lady to always take the lead. In recent times a new order has arisen; for practical reasons it is justifiable for the gentleman to overtake the lady in cases where the stairs are dark, steep or rickety. Otherwise, the lady should go first.
2. In elevators, unaccompanied women may press buttons themselves. Any man in the lift who is standing near the button panel should ask the others what floors they need and press the corresponding buttons. Ladies are asked first. Ladies should also be allowed to exit first, although this rule may be suspended if the elevator is overcrowded. In office buildings, men who are not accompanying women are expected to stand aside and allow ladies and their companions to enter the elevator first.
1. It goes without saying that the young and able bodied should not remain seated when elderly ladies and women carrying children are left standing.
2. Well brought up men only sit on public transport if no women are standing near them. They should offer their seats to newly entered ladies as soon as they come near them. Men are always obliged to surrender their seats, giving priority to women who are elderly with heavy bags.
3. Women should not offer their seats to men, even those who are much older than they are. This will most often lead to embarrassment as no man wishes to be thought of as elderly. A young woman may surrender her set to an elderly male relative.
4. If a lady is accompanied by a man, he should approach the exit first, clearing the way for her. He should get off first and then assist his companion as she steps off the bus or train.
1. When making purchases in a shop, it is worth remembering that it is bad manners to burden the shop assistant with sudden changes of mind or drawn out indecisiveness.
2. When approaching the check out, make sure you have your money ready, rather than digging for change in your wallet or pockets at the last possible moment.
3. Do not pause for long to count your change. The rhythm of modern life demands quick and sharp reactions.