The Hunger Games… and other perils of dining

February 8, 2016

My mother taught etiquette at the local Catholic girls’ boarding school...

Photo: Jonny Lindner

I was hosting a function recently and in between formalities I was enjoying a lovely meal until the man sitting next to me nearly took my eye out with his fork. His table manners were non-existent. It was actually quite gross – talking with his mouth full, waving his utensils around as he spoke. I was quite taken aback.

My mother taught etiquette at the local Catholic girls’ boarding school. You can imagine how much my friend’s at the boarding school loved that! Trips to the local takeaway on Tuesday after school were a must so they didn’t starve whilst my mother taught them the correct usage of a snail fork (yes that’s a real thing). It was something she was always fanatical about.

I once brought home a dreadful boyfriend when I was at Uni and the only positive thing my mother had to say about him was he had good table manners which turned out to be his only redeeming quality.

She would often say “People may not always notice good table manners but they always notice bad ones.” I think she was right.

You wouldn’t wear board shorts and thongs to work (unless you’re a surf live saver) as it would send a certain message to your colleagues, right? It’s the same with table manners.

With so much business still being done over the corporate lunch, it’s important to have some semblance of what’s appropriate when you’re dining, whether work or leisure.

I’m not saying you need to eat every meal as if you’re dining with HR II, but next time you’re out at a restaurant, just cast your eye around the room, you’ll be surprised at what you see.

A few things to consider when it comes to corporate dining:

  • Don’t order something really tricky to consume – spaghetti springs to mind, especially with a runny sauce, that’s asking for trouble.
  • Same goes for fiddly food, anything that can’t comfortably be eaten with utensils; ribs and chicken wings also not the best idea. If you can’t use chopsticks, ask for a knife and fork.
  • And don’t tuck your napkin in to your collar – wrong, wrong, wrong.

I don’t think manners ever go out of style, and I’m not just talking about table manners, it goes beyond that. Being courteous to your co-workers shouldn’t be chore, whether its good table manners at a corporate function, not eating your fish curry at your desk in the open office plan or even just letting that much harried colleague use the printer before you.

Good manners never go out of fashion.

Have you had a bad corporate dining experience?

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Alexandria Bernard
With a successful 20+ year career in media and communications, Alex’s media portfolio includes contracts as a radio and television presenter (612 ABC, 4BC, Channel 9 and Network Ten) and as a feature writer for bmag and Brisbane Times.

Alex's voice and face may be familiar to you from her voiceover and television commercial work. She has been featured in national radio and TV advertising campaigns, corporate videos and has been a regular MC for major events.