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Etiquette column: Dinner guests should silence, put away cell phones and bring out their table manners

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Make sure to thank your hosts in person and with a follow-up note, too.

Friday, March 10, 2017 01:02 am
Q: My husband and I took his office staff out for dinner recently, and I was surprised by one person who had her phone out throughout the meal checking messages and texting people. On top of that, no one even said thank you to us. Am I wrong in being offended by this behavior? We like our staff and they do a good job, but this seemed pretty rude to me. A: Regardless of who you are with, pulling your cell phone out to check messages at dinner is rude. But it's especially rude when your boss and his wife are entertaining you. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are a dinner guest:

* R.S.V.P. to your host or hostess whether you are or are not able to join them.

* Dress appropriately. If you aren't sure what to wear, ask your host what the dress will be. And whenever in doubt as to what to wear, dressing up is better than dressing down.

* Arrive on time.

* Check your coat if the weather requires one. Don't sling it on the back of the dining chair.

* Silence your phone and keep it out of sight. If you have to take a call, excuse yourself and leave the table.

* Order something in the mid-price range. Don't order the most expensive thing on the menu unless your host insists.

* Be courteous to the wait staff.

* Be prepared to make conversation with those seated around you. If you don't know everyone at the table, be sure to introduce yourself.

* Don't dominate the conversation or bring up indiscreet or hot-button topics.

* If alcohol is served, pace yourself. Drinking too much can be damaging to your reputation and possibly your job.

* Brush up on your table manners. Your table manners say a lot about you. If you are unsure about certain things, pick up a general etiquette book or look online for some guidelines.

* Don't order food that's difficult to eat. You don't want to worry about how to manage spaghetti with red sauce unless you are very proficient at eating it.

* Do say thank you. If it's a more formal situation, a handwritten note is in order. If it's a casual lunch, an email thank you will work, but do be sure to say thank you in person, too.

Karen Hickman is a local certified etiquette/protocol consultant and owner of Professional Courtesy. Email questions to features@news-sentinel.com.



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