I once had a seasoned Rotarian; therefore a person who had attended many luncheon and dinner events, ask which water glass was his. “Liquids are always on the right for any setting,” I explained. This is just a “makes sense” rule. It would be awkward to constantly reach across your body and your place setting with your right hand (since most people are right-handed). Some rules were “make sense” rules at one time. Some not.
No elbows on the table, is a rule that began in “olde” England when elegant dinners were served on tables with merely boards laid across trestles. Since the boards were not fastened down, elbows on the table could have launched food, cups and knives flying. Personally, I normally am writing notes at organized dinners, and therefore will often rest my elbows on the table. On formal occasions I too keep my elbows off the table . . . mostly.
People change, but sometimes the rules don’t. For example, North Americans have eaten with their fork in their right hand for many generations, and yet the fork is still placed on the left side due to European habit, and the infrequently used knife on the right, so we sometimes change utensils constantly to complete a meal.
“The world was my oyster but I used the wrong fork.”
– Oscar Wilde
What is the difference between etiquette and manners?
“Etiquette is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group. The French word étiquette, literally signifying a tag or label, was used in a modern sense in English around 1750.” – Wikipedia
Manners are ways of behaving towards people, which are socially correct and show respect between individual for their comfort and feelings.
“Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”
– Emily Post
I saw a movie once about an old time preacher and his son. They visited a member of the congregation and had dinner with them. The preacher was served a bowl of gruel with a dead frog in it from the well. The son saw the frog and the father stopped the son from saying anything and ate the frog as it was. He explained to his son later that the woman would have been sorely embarrassed otherwise and he couldn’t allow that.
We were having a little dinner party and needed extra wine glasses from the top shelf in the cupboard. More people were drinking than I had expected. The glasses weren’t as shiny as those on the lower shelves because they had been sitting there for some time, but otherwise were clean. A friend said they were dirty and had me wash each one in front of the other guests. I complied . . . and smiled, but I was sorely embarrassed. Can you guess how many times he was invited back to a dinner party? He should have eaten the frog.
“Friends and good manners will carry you where money won’t go.”
– Margaret Walker
I like the business training video First Impressions: Etiquette and Work Habits for New Employees. The video combines efforts to illustrate both etiquette and manners – “A bad first impression is hard to shake – something Jason, Marita, and Chris are about to find out on their first day at work. This video saves new-hires from common workplace blunders by showing them how to present a polished appearance, use positive body language, and demonstrate a can-do work ethic.” – ideasandtraining.com/Business-Training-Programs.html
Here in Pierce County, we are lucky enough to have Judith Guthrie as a local expert. She has done a number of presentations concerning etiquette for both businesses and organizations. I’ve seen her presentation to the Rotary Club of Tacoma #8, but missed her last presentation at the Rotary Club of Tacoma Sunset. You can contact her by email – or by phone: 253-370-7009.
“Whoever one is, and wherever one is, one is always in the wrong if one is rude.”
– Maurice Baring