These are spectacles to avoid doing specifically at a formal dining event. At any other type of dinner, these might be passable. Yet, I still firmly believe these habits should be practiced starting at home, so your elegance translates naturally across any situation you are in for future use.
Getting up at all
OMG No! Don’t do it. It is so bad I abbreviated OMG. It is said to be so shameful that in France you are not supposed to say anything when excusing yourself at all, because you are not supposed to leave the table. This is particular to a formal setting (at least four courses), but should be practiced in smaller situations nonetheless. Getting into the habit of focusing on your meal, and enjoying your company are top priority.
If you really need to use the water closet or check if you have something in your teeth, wait until the very end or do it before the meal. At a formal dinner, you might want to do the comfort room visit beforehand, because it might be a lengthy affair.
Announcing you need to go to the bathroom
Nobody needs to know your private business, or have a picture of what it is you might be doing in there. You do not know who has a weak stomach.
When I was 13, my girlfriends and I were walking in the park after we stopped for some milkshakes. One of my friends started to touch on something medical she had gone through recently. Our other girlfriend warned her saying to please stop talking, because she has a weak stomach, and became sick instantly.
Some people cannot handle such things, and we do not want to give anyone a single chance to be put off from their dinner. Considering others at the table is number one. Testing the tolerance of others should not be up to us.
Making any noise that is not supposed occur when dining
I have been out on several occasions where this has happened. Thank golly I can only count on one hand how many times this has happened, but the fact that this happened with GROWN ADULTS, rather than parents helping their little ones do it speaks volumes. These were at finer places too.
DO NOT BLOW YOUR NOSE AT THE TABLE OR IN THE DINING ROOM. If your nose suddenly starts running, excuse yourself and leave the table. If you are sick, it is important to not show up at all to consider the health of others. I have noticed a large case of aversions to this notion, because some people say they feel better, and start showing up to work without realizing they are still carrying what they have and can pass it on to others.
In my personal opinion, there is nothing more inconsiderate than to affect someone’s health. You never know if someone has an autoimmune disease they want to keep private and have to stay even more careful than the average healthy person. This is even before all of the panorama banana worldwide problems going on. I thought it was common sense, but apparently it is not. If you are sick, stay home. If you think you are feeling better, but are not 100%, stay home. You still have the capability to pass what you have to someone else.
Back to the dining table. The sound of blowing one’s nose is not pleasant even when someone is healthy and there is simply dust in the air. Nobody wants to hear that when eating whether you are at a fine dining establishment or at home. It is only polite to take it to a private place when you can take care of yourself there.
Scraping your plate
I grew up in a very middle class household where my parents were military level strict with us. My parents put the fear of God into us kids when it came to scraping our plates haha. Till this day, I will hear people across the room in a restaurant scraping their plate loudly for the whole street to listen.
Okay, we get it. You were taught not to waste growing up. That is truly a thoughtful way to live. But you are not living in the middle of the forest who hunts for the whole winter, with the chance of not being able to see food for a whole season. Trust me. I am pretty sure you are going to see some food again.
If you simply want more, serve yourself more, or order another serving. It is one thing to be almost licking your plate with your flatware, but bringing attention to yourself with the volume of a school bell going off. It will bother others immensely. I know, because I am one of those people who was raised by more of those people, who were also raised by more of those people.
Some individuals do it without realizing, so it is important to get passed the habit clanging one’s cutlery onto the stoneware as if they are trying to start a dance party.
Holding your cutlery throughout the whole dinner
In formal dining, you are not supposed to hold your cutlery throughout the whole affair. Between each bite, your utensils should be placed in resting position to chew your food and enjoy the company around you.
People also wonder why they are feeling bloated, when the truth is they are not practicing mastication properly. They do not mindfully chew their food and swallow whole gulps of pieces like a snake would have the shape of its prey in its neck. Try chewing your food at least 20 times to make sure it is broken down and also savour the flavours, texture, and moment of what you are eating.
I personally am a slow eater, and can never understand why people demolish their dish in all of what feels like two seconds. Especially at a finer occasion when there is plenty of fantastic food to go around. It is imperative to take the time to enjoy any meal, treat it as the affair it is rather than treating it like a coffee to-go on your morning rush commute. Take breaks in between and listen to the conversations people are having.
This is what I love about manners. They are a true state of mindfulness and living in the moment. You life is richer when you have this mindset. It definitely works and is there for a reason.
I hope you get to practice these with yourself at home, loved ones to hold you accountable, and one day at a business dinner to impress your client. Even if it is a social situation, lead by example, and always encourage others to be their best!
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