Tatiana Polyakova has been reviewing etiquette for more than 20 years. She knows exactly how to behave at a table, what things you can appropriately discuss with people you don’t know, and what topics are strictly prohibited to talk about. And even though Tatiana herself is a true expert in this subject, she thinks that some rules can be broken. It’s just a matter of knowing which rules are okay to break and which ones are set in stone.
The Bright Side team decided to learn more about good manners, so we’ve reviewed a lot of Tatiana Polyakova’s recommendations and have chosen the most useful pieces of advice.
How to behave at a table in a restaurant
- Don’t put your mobile phone or your laptop on the table.
- Sit on 3/4 of the chair and keep your knees together as if they were buttoned up.
- A lady’s bag should be on the chair next to her or behind her back. Never leave the bag on the floor. First, because it’s not safe for your valuables, and second, a server may trip over it.
- Phrases like, “I’m trying to lose weight,” or “Is this gluten-free bread?” are prohibited. Subjects such as health (along with politics and religion) should never be discussed. People don’t need to know the details of your digestion.
- During lunchtime, napkins should be opened only halfway on your lap and at more important events, the knees should be covered completely.
- During a business lunch, you may start talking about business only once the order is made.
- If you see a bug or a worm on your plate, don’t scream or call for help. Just quietly tell the server about the issue. This is a delicate matter, so there’s no need to make it public.
- If you need to leave for a moment, don’t say you’re going to the restroom to check your hair or to make a call. Simply say, “Excuse me for a moment, I’ll be right back.” This is your way of telling everyone that you are not leaving for good. You can also use napkins in order to specify this: a napkin hanging on the back of the chair means you’ll be back, and if the napkin is on the seat — you’re leaving.
- Many attractive women say they don’t have to leave tips. However, tips are absolutely necessary no matter what. Just consider tips to be something that must be paid.
How to serve the table
- Restaurants should have the silverware from the same set but if you’re making dinner at home, different sets will do.
- It’s also good manners to serve a plate with bread and a special separate knife for butter.
- When serving a table at home, try to make sure that the middle of the plate is in line with the middle of the fork or knife. This way, everything will look even neater.
- According to serving rules, the place settings should be at a 2-finger distance from the edge of the table.
How to eat
- When we take a fork or a knife from the table, it should never return to the table. Forks, spoons, and knives should stay on the plate.
- Don’t act like a monkey and bite off pieces of bread. Break off a small piece of bread you can eat and put butter on.
- Cream soups should be placed in the mouth with the edge of the spoon and soups with pieces of food in it should go straight into the mouth. Also, remember not to put the soup onto the spoon “rowing” it toward yourself. You should move the spoon away from your face.
Conversation rules for people that don’t know each other well
- “My husband is a famous lawyer” is a phrase that doesn’t make any sense because if a person is famous, people already know that or will know during the conversation.
- “Our child is a champion,” is a personal statement. You never know what people around you are going through — there could be a couple that recently lost a child and a statement like this would be painful for them to hear.
- If someone gives you compliments on the way you look, don’t rush to explain yourself by saying something like, “Oh, I got this on sale,” or “This is an old jacket!” Just thank the person.
How to drink alcohol
- Remember that people often forget your name but they remember the drink you chose.
- Think through the alcohol menu in advance: consider the drinks and foods that can be mixed and the ones that can’t (for example, wine with wine is okay).
- Try different drinks to make your opinion and understand what you like and what you don’t. In different restaurants and in different cities, the same drink can be made in a different way and give you completely different feelings.
- If you invite a lot of people to dinner, there’s a huge chance you won’t surprise them with your cooking. Because of this, offer your guests drinks that they don’t regularly taste.
- Knowing wines and the names of the different types of glasses is important. This is a way to present yourself. Your clothes and your shoes don’t really present any interest to others when there’s something more interesting to talk about.
Hold a glass of champagne by its stem, pressing the little finger against the bottom of the glass.
- A woman can open a bottle of champagne on her own if she is the host of the house. She should be able to do it.
- Always leave about 10% of a drink in the bottom of the glass. This is how you will show everyone that you don’t have an addiction and you were just enjoying the taste of the drink.
- When drinking, look into other people’s eyes. This is good manners.
- Drinking before the actual dinner is a sign of attention. So you can’t say something like, “I don’t drink,” or “I’m driving”.
- The quality of a restaurant can be determined by its wine menu. A restaurant owner that truly values their chef won’t choose a bottle of wine you can buy at any supermarket. Such owners create a good compilation of wines in order to highlight the taste of the food.
Bonus: 6 rules of modern etiquette we shouldn’t break
Do you break any of these etiquette rules? Do you think that etiquette is that important?