Etiquette for the Business of Life

Do you ever get the chance to enjoy a slow, leisurely meal? Savoring every bite while participating in pleasant conversation with friends or family?

It’s a rare experience, I’m sure. But one worth making time for.

Protocol guidelines for meals grew out of human sociality: to bring efficiency and pleasantries to the table. Granted, formality was the order of those days, but even at a casual table, a system helps move things along.

The most important part of the system is that each participant knows what is expected. Isn’t life so much easier when you know how to fit into a situation? Dining is no different.

Take time this summer to create your own system, and include family and friends. Learn the styles of dining and practice them with others. There’s no better place to do this than your own dinner table. You’ll not only create a life-long skill set, you will also make some wonderful memories.

Basic guidelines to get in the habit:

  • Commit to share a specific number of meals each week with friends, family, or even new acquaintances.
  • Know how long your meal takes, and put it on your family calendar so there are no excuses.
  • Share the responsibilities of the meal and decide ahead of time who prepares the meal, who sets the table, who cleans up.
  • Don’t be nervous about letting young children practice eating with a fork and knife. I’ve seen kids as young as three years old master Continental dining. With a little guidance, it can be done!
  • Encourage pleasant conversation during your meals. Let your table be a place of sharing and caring.

Mealtime has evolved to the extent that our lifestyles have evolved. What has not changed is our need for learning and expressing ourselves with courtesy in the company of others. The best way to feed this need, and our bodies, is taking the time to dine in a convivial atmosphere with friends and loved ones.

Dining protocol was created specifically to help us navigate this special time together, and I hope you will join me in continuing the tradition.

ETIQUETTE For the Business of Life offers hands-on, practical knowledge of etiquette protocols and self-presentation. We create classes for children through adults and customize trainings for businesses, offices and organizations.

Published in the May/Jun 2014 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review

Written by Candace Smith, Photograph by Aaron Jacoby

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