Are you Passing the Bread in the Right Direction?

Earlier this month, I spoke with etiquette expert Jules Hirst, an authority on business and social etiquette.  She is the author of Power of Civility, and CEO of Etiquette Consulting, Inc. Ms. Hirst spoke to me about what constitutes proper table manners, and why they are still important in this day and age.

Over the years, I’ve seen a decline in etiquette and manners and basic “social niceness”. I grew up addressing grown-ups as “Mr.” or “Ms.”, a practice that seems to be declining. Jules confirmed my belief that it’s still important to make a good first impression with a firm handshake and strong eye contact. She also clarified for me a few distinctions between the etiquette in a social situation versus a business situation: for instance, introductions differ. In business, one is introduced according to rank, while in a social setting, it’s by age and gender. However, the most important rule is that you do make an introduction.

As to meal etiquette–I’m constantly shocked by the lack of table manners. Some useful tips Jules offered: napkins on laps; silverware works its way from the outside in; and my favorite–BMW: bread (left), meal (middle), water glass (right). Trying to describe the order of glasses, plates, and silverware on the radio was almost impossible without a diagram–however, Ms. Hirsts’ website offers that diagram as well as a free eBook on proper dinner etiquette dos and don’ts.

My biggest peeve is people who are constantly checking their phone while at a social gathering. Please put away the phone and give the person in front of you 100% of your attention. If you must take a call or text, excuse yourself first.

As to which direction to pass that bread basket? It goes to the right.  The podcast is available for download and was broadcast on July 16th.

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