A couple of weeks ago I packed my bags and headed North for a mini college speaking tour.
We often hear how etiquette is a dying art and how unmannerly the young adults of today can be. However, it’s been my experience, that if any generation is going to bring civility and gracious living back… it’s today’s college student. Yes, many have been raised in a world where sitting down to dinner as a family isn’t common practice and where face-to-face communication has been replaced by the pressing of the buttons. None the less, my experience has been that these students are curious about etiquette and desire to do the gracious thing. If we play our cards right, the future of gracious living is looking very bright!
My first stop was the University of Portland’s Student Alumni Association Etiquette Dinner. One of my favorite aspects of my job is working with students and using gracious spirit of etiquette to debunk some of their ideas of what etiquette is. Although etiquette is important, when using it we mustn’t take ourselves too serious. Take it from Ms. Cheesy on the right…
We started the evening with dining basics: how to set the table. By starting at ground zero we ensure that everyone enters the dinner on the same manner. Manners are inclusive and although many know how to set the table, many do not.
Next we covered the correct way to hold utensils and the value of using a little tool called a knife. Although the side is used for cutting, the fork was not created as a multipurpose tool much like the Taco Bell spork… it’s not a fork knife combo. The fork is for eating and the knife for cutting.
I always take questions throughout the courses: soup, salad, entree and dessert. Here two of my favorites
Question: What do you do when you have something in your teeth?
Answer: It’s always best to take teeth-picking to the restroom. Even though we would like to think our sly tongue or finger effort goes unnoticed, most likely anyone within an eye shot will know our dental predicament. If you don’t believe me, try it remove a pretend piece of spinach in front of a mirror…
Question: Is it okay to order something that is a bit exotic at a business lunch
Answer: I always suggest ordering something that you know, and eat well. If that’s exotic then by all means, enjoy. However, when we take chances and use exotic to impress, we run the risk of biting off more than we can chew… literally. When trying to impress a business colleague, fall back on: your savvy conversation skills, smooth use of utensils, and posture. Also, be mindful of “exotic’s” cost, especially when the tab is being picked up by someone other than you!
Don’t go far… there are more tales from the road to come!