Table Manners: The Good, the Ugly
By Annabelle Macford
Some weeks back I visited a very prominent office in Lagos to make inquiries. I was directed to a lady to get what I needed. I knocked on her door and she asked me in. As soon as I opened the door to her office, the oozing smell of the office made me ask myself “is this an office or a kitchen?” She had a big bowl of food in her hands and was chewing like a hungry grass cutter. With oil dripping all over her mouth, she asked “what do you want?” Oh Christ! I could not hide my disgust. I got what I needed but I left with a topic for this edition.
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe once said: “A man’s manners are a mirror in which he shows his portrait”. I can’t agree more. People spend a lot of time acquiring possessions, wearing expensive clothes and sending their children to school in a bid to seeing them become professionals, but they forget how important our manners are to our everyday life. Where your money and education won’t take you, your manners will. It is on this note that I have compiled a list of dos and don’ts as they relate to table manners in the corporate environment. I hope my esteemed readers find them instructive.
It is totally wrong to eat in the open/general office during office hours. There is always a lunch time for offices, it is advised to take advantage of such break to step out and eat. You can’t have food in your mouth and still attend to a client or guest as the case may be. There are peak times in most offices; it will be absurd to eat at such times. That is why most organizations now have a dining section in their offices.
While the temptation to think of just yourself during mealtime may be strong, you must consider the other people eating in a restaurant with you. It is uncultured to sneeze without using a handkerchief to cover your nose, or blow your nose in the restaurant. That is what the convenience is meant for, use it!
Do not talk with food in your mouth. It is the most unlady-like and ungentlemanly act of all.
While washing your hands, do not spill water all over the table.
Do not unzip your trousers/ skirts in public or remove your belt all because you need to get all the food in, if you feel tight with them on, then you don’t even need the food in the first place. Caution please!
Do not place your elbow on the dining table while at lunch, you must sit up straight, the napkin should be on your lap, follow the pace of your host. It will be hilarious if your plate is empty and your host’s is just half way gone. Chew slowly and gracefully. I know you want to get value for your money but please don’t crack that bone (just because you paid for it); it is not tidy at all.
When you want to sit, pull the chair out without making a noise, sit and then pull forward to the table, use only the cutlery that you’re good with (the knife should always be on the right hand, the fork on the left), do not try to be adventurous so you don’t end up embarrassing yourself.
Do not gaggle water or any liquid in your mouth while dining, do not smack your tongue, open your mouth while chewing, or make sounds with your mouth while eating. It is offensive.
Do not use your five fingers when eating a meal that requires your fingers which could make the oil drip from your finger to your arm. I can’t begin to tell you how that will look. Use of cutlery is advised.Make sure to cover your mouth while picking your teeth.
Since it is possible that you may not know all the table manners, it is advisable not to be too forward, just relax and work with the person you’re with, except it is very clear to you that the fellow falls short on his/her table manners, it is better to do what he/she does and be polite.
To be continued…………