Your refinement at the table is a courtesy to others and a sign of self respect
Despite the warm breezy summer weather and more and more adults getting vaccinated, some are not yet be ready to head out to a restaurant - particularly with the Delta variant on the upswing. So why not make good use of your time at home by practicing your table manners? This way, when you are comfortable enough to go out to eat, you will be so confident in your presentation and your dining skills that you'll be able to focus on a fun dining experience (or the business agenda at hand as the case may be), instead of worrying about which fork to use or what to do with your napkin. Your dining skills will become a part of you. And your dining companions will find dining with you to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
There are some who don't think table manners are all that important. They could not be more wrong. In fact, many people who are well-mannered view table manners as a proxy of whether someone is well-mannered, in general.
A good area to focus your self-improvement efforts is on your personal deportment at the table - what you do with your body.
Sit up straight and bring the food to your mouth - don't bend and bring your mouth down to your plate.
Your elbows should be off the table at all times - even between courses and when not otherwise eating. Yes, we know this is somewhat controversial advice with some etiquette sources giving a pass to elbows on the table in between courses and when not eating. But, we think when you put your elbows on the table you end up slouching or somewhat turning your back to some of your dining companions. That is why we advise, keep it simple, elbows off the table at all times.
It's important not to fidget. Don't absentmindedly touch your face, hair or utensils. Either use your utensils to eat or let them rest. When you are finished, simply put your utensils in their proper "finished" position and leave your plate where it is. Don’t push back your plate when you're done. And don't tip back in your chair.
Chew quietly, with your mouth closed. It's best to take small bites so that you're able to participate more easily in the conversation (if you are dining with someone).
Don't eat all at once. Make sure you take frequent breaks to pace yourself. After three or four bites put your utensils down. When we put our utensils down in the "rest" position we are then free to sip our beverage and converse. What to do with your hands? When eating continental style we think it quite elegant to gently rest your wrists on the edge of the table. When eating American style it's permissible to rest one hand on your lap. Incorporating these little "breaks" into your meal enables you to pace. It helps avoid eating too quickly, which is important when dining with others. You don't want to be left staring at an empty plate while others are still mid-course.
Don't gesture while holding utensils - it's unsettling to those dining with you who worry you'll impale them with your fork or stab them with your knife!
It's important to look pleasant when eating as rude table manners are unsightly and unappetizing to your dining companions. A quick way to determine what others see when eating with you is to place a mirror across from you, if you're eating alone. You'll see what you look like and will be able to more easily identify areas to improve. Yes, it's a bold move but you're at home, so why not do it?
You're refinement at the table is a form of courtesy to others, as well as self-respect so don't bring out your table manners only when you're with others. You want them to be a part of you. When you consistently showcase your manners while eating it simply becomes the way you always eat. Then you won't ever get nervous and wonder what to do with your napkin, which fork to use, or what others think of you - no matter who you're with.
You'll know you're well-mannered and it shows.
And that will make you comfortable and happy - a true joy to break bread with.
Have a marvelous week -