Mind Your Manners: Trading social media for social etiquette at the dinner table

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- Renea Weghorst teaches etiquette for a living, and she believes the time is right to capture the millennial generation’s interest on social niceties.

CBS4 visited her for a class on table manners at Matteo’s in Noblesville. She believes when her students get the basics, learn to converse and relax, the dinner or luncheon can be a bit of a “dance.”

"The silverware and the dishes almost become invisible when it’s good. It only gets loud and clunky and awkward when you don’t have the practice. And when you start to get that, it becomes kind of an elegant dance. I think it’s beautiful,” said Weghorst.

"They’ll ask, 'What do I do if I have to burp? What happens if there’s something that rolls under the table? What if I spill my water? Where am i supposed to put my utensils at the end of the meal?' They’re excited- they’re sponges for this type of information because they literally don’t know.”

One area of concentration for Weghorst is the cell phone.

"Your phone is an extension of your body. If somebody is having a conversation with you, and it’s really going well and your phone starts to beep or vibrate and immediately your eyes go down to it, what is that telling me in a visual? You’re not important. And it happens all the time,” she said.

Weghorst advises her clients to have a no phone zone, especially at luncheons, dinners, business meetings and interviews. She believes it’s just too important to not make eye contact.

Other than that, Weghorst says relax, be attentive and be kind. Those three qualities will pass muster, even though your fine dining manners may need brushing up.

Here are some good etiquette tips:

  1. Stay away from tooth picks.
  2. Don’t ask for a doggy bag.
  3. Don’t order more than your interviewer.
  4. Don’t assume your server knows you are the host and are responsible for the check. Let him or her know, quietly.
  5. Don’t wait till the end of the meal to take care of the bill.
  6. Don’t ask your guest if they would like to share.
  7. Don’t pretend to be a wine expert.
  8. Don’t use the side of your knife to check your teeth.
  9. Don’t use your napkin as a tissue.
  10. If you see that your dessert or salad is served from a plate, always eat it with a fork.
  11. The bread and butter plate are to the left, the main meal plate is in the middle, and water and wine glasses will be above your knife.
  12. Use the utensils that are the farthest out, first.
  13. Keep your cell phone hidden away. And if you must take a call or text, do warn others at your table ahead of time.

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