Bad table manners are like any lapse in etiquette – when the problem is coming from someone else, it’s immediately apparent, but if you’re the offender, you probably don’t even realize it’s an issue. If you are an unseemly eater, you could be damaging your career and not even know it.
Most of us know not to start eating before everyone is served, to chew with our mouths closed and not speak while chewing, don’t double dip, don’t reach across the table and to place our napkins in our laps, not in our shirt collars, like a lobster bib.
The vast majority of people are completely unaware of phone etiquette at the table, so this means you!
Do not take a phone call at the table. The proper protocol if one’s phone rings at the table is to simply excuse yourself and step out of the restaurant or dining area. Having a phone conversation while sitting in the dining area is rude to not only the people sharing your table, but the rest of the guests as well.
Now, when you are alone in a coffee shop, it’s ok to text or do email on your phone, but in any setting where you are seated with other people put down the phone!
Do not leave your phone on the table, because it will lead you to check your messages. It all comes down to basic manners and giving the other person you’re with their due respect. Texting or checking your Instagram feed are in the same category as taking a phone call at the table. Unacceptable.
Regardless of the formality of a restaurant, never put anything on the table that is not a part of the meal. The rule applies to sunglasses, wallets, handbags, and iPads/tablets too.
A true table manners story:
A young business man went for a lunch interview in New York City. He hit it off with the interviewer immediately because they had graduated from the same Ivy League School. The young man articulated his business strategy and why he believed that he would be perfect for the company. The interview went terrific and the young man thought he was a shoe-in, but at the end of the lunch the interviewer said:
“I’m sorry I don’t think you’re the right fit for our company.”
The shocked young man responded:
“But we have so much in common and we agree on the business strategy for your company, can I ask why?”
The interviewer looked him in the eye:
“When your food came, you generously put salt and pepper on it – without even tasting it… That is an example of poor judgement.”