By Colleen Harding
There was a time when people slowed down to share a meal with friends or family. It was a time to relax and socialize. There was no rushing or reaching or harsh words used at this table. Everything was done slowly, gracefully, and with purpose. A dining experience was pleasant and civilized.
Today we are moving much quicker. Most of us do not have time to dine. Drive-thru windows have replaced dining rooms. We spend more time eating on the run than dining. It is a sign of the times, however, that one should still be able to participate in both environments. The problem comes when a person spends so much time with fast food that they forget how to dine or perhaps they were never properly taught about the difference between the two.
When we eat, we are fulfilling a need. There is a desire to get food into our mouths as quickly as possible because we are hungry or in a hurry or both. We give little thought to what we look like because we have a lot, maybe too much, going on.
When we dine, things are done with purpose. We dress properly, we converse with friends and/or business associates, and we slow down. We are in control. Things are passed properly, silverware is held correctly, we sit up straight and bring food to our mouths. We do what we can to make our guest or associate feel comfortable.
The problem comes when we eat and we should be using our dining skills. We pay little attention to our guest or guests and how they may be dining. We use poor posture and shovel food into our mouths with little regard to how we may appear. There is little control, and it can make our company very uncomfortable.
If your dining skills are not what they should be, slow down and use some control. Take the time to observe the situation and others around you. A person who dines inappropriately may give the illusion that they are reckless and they don’t care.
If a person makes the time to share a meal with you, make sure you are using the right skills and use this time to your advantage as an opportunity to be your best and excel.
Colleen Harding is a protocol coach and the founder of the Cleveland School of Etiquette and Corporate Protocol. She can be reached at (216)-970-5889, firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.clevelandschoolofetiquette.com.