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June/July 2014


Etiquette refers to a set of rules or suggestions that govern behaviour on social platforms. These rules differ amongst different communities and nations.

Dining Etiquette therefore refers to the set of rules that pertain to dining be it at home or in a restaurant/hotel. These rules as well vary with different nations for example in Indian and Islamic countries they dine with their hands and in Japan they dine using chopsticks. Our main focus will be on English dining which uses cutlery.

How you conduct yourself over a dining table may be what stands between you and that dream job, eagerly awaited promotion or relationship.

Guide on Proper Dining Etiquette

1. How do I handle the Napkin?

Once seated, pick the table napkin, unfold it and place it on your lap. DO NOT tuck it into your shirt or dress.

  • Gentlemen fold into a triangle and place over your right leg
  • Ladies open it completely and place it across your lap.

If at any point you would like to leave the table, leave the napkin on your seat to signify that you will be returning shortly.

To wipe your mouth, lift it up slightly, fold as close to you as possible and lightly dab on the problem area DO NOT rub vigorously or crumple the whole napkin in your hand to use.

After the meal, fold it once or twice and neatly place it on the table to the left of your plate.


2. Time to ‘wet’ the appetite with Bread & Butter

  • Take the bread or bun and place on your bread.
  • Cut the bread or bun into bite size pieces and place it on your plate, scoop the butter from the butter plate and place it on your saucer after which you can apply it on the bread at will.

3. Let us talk glasses

Large glasses are for Red wine and small ones are for white wine.

Wine is a great accompaniment for meals and is actually considered a great health benefit with studies that show it lowers risk of Heart disease, stroke, colon cancer and type II diabetes.

  • Hold the glass up a short distance from you and look into it. Bring it down to your nose and take a whiff, give it a swirl and finally take a sip.

Depending on the hotel, juice glasses will come in these two sizes. Others will have the larger one for water and the smaller one for juice.

  • Do not gulp it down; take small, steady sips especially if you are a lady. It shows grace and elegance which is important in a fine dining scenario.

4. Place Setting and Cutlery:

A place setting depending again on the host will include; two sets of spoons, three forks and three knives. The table is always set for right handed people, to avoid confusion always remember to start from the outside in for each course.

In some instances, the cutlery is brought to the table with each course.

DO NOT put your elbows or forearms on the table whilst using cutlery or make loud noise while eating such as; banging cutlery on the plate or chewing food loudly and slurping drinks. Cutlery must go to your mouth and not the other way around.

  • For soup; use the spoon on your extreme right and butter your bread using the knife on the napkin.
  • For Appetizers; knife and fork that follows from the outside in.
  • For the main course; Knife and fork on the inside closest to your plate.
  • For dessert; cutlery is located to the front of the plate and the fork is always smaller than all the others.

When you finish eating, place your knife and fork together in the centre of the plate vertically. The tines of the fork should point up and the blade of the knife should point towards the fork.
When you finish eating, place your knife and fork together in the centre of the plate vertically. The tines of the fork should point up and the blade of the knife should point towards the fork.

BRITAM Training; session on proper feet positioning whilst standing or giving a handshake

Angela Mogere Oti facilitating training session on good grooming, the appropriate nails for the office environment.

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In this month's newsletter we give you tips on how to put your best dining foot forward so to speak.

We hope that you become better fine diners from this issue.

We would like you to also share your thoughts.


Public Image has a unique approach to building individual and corporate achievement. Business etiquette, creating a positive image though posture and dress, soft skills, communication proficiency, personal branding and networking expertise are key elements in the Public Image approach to developing professional skills. Projecting a positive image for business will give you an edge in today's competitive market.

Your communication questions answered

Q: What do I do if my knife or fork drops?

A:Leave it there; do not attempt to pick it up, let the server replace it for you. If they did not notice you drop it, politely get their attention and request a replacement.


  • DO NOT hold your cutlery whilst talking or use them to point at something or someone.
  • If attending a function or black tie event, inquire on the dress code in advance. If still unclear lean more on formal which is easier to dress down than casual is to dress up.
  • In an interview set-up let the interviewer ask you to take a seat or wait until he/she has sat then take your seat.
  • DON’T pull out your phone during a formal dinner. If expecting a very important phone call put it on silent or vibrate; excuse yourself from the table to answer and keep your absence very short.
  • In an interview set up it is always best not to drink alcohol; juice, water or iced tea are better beverage choices
  • Gentlemen; when a lady rises from the table or as she approaches the table, rise with her and take your seat after she has taken hers.
  • Once done eating, push all the uneaten food to one side before placing your cutlery squarely on the plate.
  • DO NOT pick your teeth at the table, if something is stuck in them, excuse yourself from the table and go and comfortably remove it in the bathroom.
  • Scoop your soup from the middle of the bowl going out away from you and then bring it to your mouth and take a small sip from the edge of the spoon. DO NOT put the whole spoon in your mouth.
  • DO NOT blow your nose at the table. If you have a flu or cold and must do so, excuse yourself from the table and go to the bathroom.

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"There is a difference between dining and eating. Dining is an art. When you eat to get most out of your meal, to please the palate, just as well as to satiate the appetite, that; my friend, is dining."
Yuan Mei

"We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly."
Anna Thomas